Contributed by Info Guru Aurora LaJambre
Tree huggers have many ways of expressing their love.
They recycle, use eco-friendly materials and wear clothing designed to spread urgent environmental messages. But perhaps the most challenging way to share your love of trees is to climb them. Climbing trees makes you feel like a kid again, but it’s not as easy as it looks. Check out these tree climbing tips before you head up to ensure your safety and maximize the fun.
10. Look out below
Not everyone climbing trees does it for fun. Some homeowners find it necessary in order to remove dead branches before they fall and do damage. If this is the case, in addition to learning about rigging, consider where the branch will fall before you begin cutting it. Take precautions to set up cones and let your family know what you’re up to before climbing up with a hand saw. Plan to lower high branches down with a rope, and be sure to overestimate the weight of the branch when selecting rope.
9. Use sturdy footwear
Sturdy footwear will keep you from slipping. Make sure the soles have good traction. Once you tie the laces tight, tuck them into the top of the shoe to prevent them from getting snagged and possibly causing you to lose balance. Some climbers prefer to go barefoot because they feel it gives them a better grip. Experiment with both methods when you’re still at the 5-feet off the ground stage.
8. What goes up …
Remember that for every foot you climb up, you’ll also have to climb back down and that takes just as much coordination. Keep in mind that endurance takes time to build. If you feel tired, begin the climb down. Firemen won’t be very happy to answer the call if your neighbor finds you stuck in a tree.
7. Look around for power lines
Sometimes the best climbing trees are in the front yard. Always take the time to walk around the tree and look for any power lines nearby. Never climb a tree if you see power lines or other utility wires running through or near it. You should always call the power company to remove wires before you trim.
6. Read up on Rigging
If you plan to climb higher than 10 feet off the ground, you must use safety rigging. The National Tree Climbing Guide offers a wealth of information about precautions and safety equipment. Practice using a safety rigging gear including a harness, climbing belt, a tree hopper’s belt and safety ropes. When purchasing safety ropes, always ask about the tensile strength rating to ensure it’ll be strong enough to support your weight or you could fall. If you’re unfamiliar with how the rigging works, ask someone at the store to show you or inquire about tree climbing lessons.
5. Look for signs of rot and bugs
Inspect your climbing tree for potential rot and signs of bugs before wrapping your body around it. Common indications of rot include stunted growth on the highest branches, a hollow sound when you tap it with a mallet and excessive moss or ferns that typically replace healthy bark. Examine the bark up close with a magnifying glass. Look for termites, beetles or patches of bark that look like brown dust. These are all signs of rot or bug infestation.
4. Test branches
Always test branches before you put your full body weight on them. A tree can be healthy and still have dead branches. Know that the green ones are young and most likely to bend, but the dead ones are harder to spot. The best way to test a branch in the air is to kick it about 1.5 feet away from the tree. Kicking it too close can make you think it’s stronger than it is.
3. Bring a loud whistle
We know you don’t plan on getting stuck in a tree, but wear a safety whistle just in case. Unless you’re going to a remote area, which you shouldn’t if you’re a beginner, a loud whistle will get you the help you need should you find yourself in a tricky situation.
2. Start easy
Climbing a tree takes a mix of intuition, good judgment and pure physical strength, and these skills have to work in sync. Start off with the easiest tree possible. Look for one with strong, low-lying branches that you can use to pull yourself up by and stand on.
1. Three limbs for you, one for the climb
Ever see a squirrel run up the side of a tree as if gravity doesn’t exist? Well it doesn’t work like that for people. When you’re not climbing higher than 10 feet, safety rigging isn’t necessary, but you do need to keep three of your four limbs holding on to the tree at all times. This means you find a good grip with one arm before stepping with the foot to keep yourself from falling.