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HOW TO: How to Climb a Tree

May 19, 2010

It’s been a while for some, and a first time for others. Be sure weather is appropriate for tree-climbing.

No thunderstorms

No after rain slipperiness

No snow storms (icy branches)

No tornadoes or strong winds

1)      Find a tree.

Parks are usually the best place to climb. The starter branch is one indicator if a tree is climbable. The starter branch (the first branch one touches while climbing) should be reachable, either at an arm’s length or at an effortless jumping distance. Also be sure there is space to climb. Do the higher branches grant freedom to move around in the tree?

2)      Grab onto the starter branch and pull yourself onto that branch or nearby branches.

Example of a perfect starter branch

Typically done with two hands, the starter branch should be thick and safe. Once this is secure, there are two options to getting into the tree:

i)                    Use the arms to pull oneself up, not-unlike a chin-up and bring the legs up towards the branch. Then wrap the legs around so all limbs are hanging onto the starter branch. Using strength from arms and legs, swing body around so it is positioned on top of the starter branch.

ii)                   If there is difficulty pulling legs towards starter branch on upper-body strength alone, use the trunk of the tree to walk legs closer to the starter branch. Once arms and legs are hanging on the branch, continue to swing around it until the body is positioned on top of the starter branch.

3)      Stand erect on top of the starter branch and while using smaller branches as arm support, proceed climbing up the tree.

As previously mentioned, the starter branch must be sturdy as one’s entire body weight is supported by its strength. It is important to note both hands and feet should be touching some part of the tree. If the left foot is hanging in mid-air it will increase the chances of falling out of the tree. Balance and security is crucial in deciding the climber’s next step.

4)      Find a groove that is comfortable to rest in.

Once the climber has reached the desired height it is key to establish a ‘groove’ where both feet can rest without chance of slipping. Trees have many grooves although most often the closest groove to the centre of the tree is most secure. That being said, the climber typically seeks a groove that has a branch close by to lean the back against. This is exceptionally important if the climber chooses to spend time resting in the tree. Without the back support, the groove is unbalanced and increases the climber’s chances of falling.

5)      Relax and admire the scenery. Write a poem if so desire.

6)      Climb down the tree when ready. Try to return to the starter branch.

Emphasis on the word ready. It truly helps to visualize oneself climbing downwards step-by-step and then shadowing those movements instead of descending haphazardly down the tree. Remember the branches used climbing up the tree. Most likely they are the same friends that will help the climber scale down the tree safely.

It is also important to stress that climbing up a tree can be rapid and exhilarating but descending should be slow and careful. Again, ensure that all legs and arms are in constant contact with the tree to re-establish balance after each step downwards.

7)      At the starter branch, gently lower the body with the arms, or for more experienced climbers, jump down.

The starter branch (now the ending branch) is the step before reconnecting with the ground. To get down, the climber can reverse the actions used to get into the tree by wrapping both arms and legs around the branch and slowly swinging the body downwards while keeping a firm grip onto the starter branch. Slowly release the legs from the branch so the body hovers over the ground and then release the hands.

Another option is to jump to the ground from the starter branch. Please note that some starter branches are relatively close to the ground depending on the tree (in some cases simply hanging from the arms ensures that the feet will be touching the ground) and therefore jumping is not a dangerous task. However if the starter branch is a reasonable distance from the ground, perhaps the first option is best.

8)      Write down tree-climbing experiences and post a comment on this blog.

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