A Climber's Guide to Tree Inspection

Introduction

There trunk bulge--smThis tree looks friendly, but is it?are many risks in trees that can be minimized if you take the time to look and be aware of dangerous possibilities. Some hazards are obvious to the naked eye, such as the lightning strike in the pine tree at right. Some present themselves as clues needing further investigation, and others can be seen only upon close inspection.

Always check a tree for its health and for potential hazards before you climb it. It doesn’t matter if you have climbed the tree many times before. Conditions change! Branches can die or partially break from a storm the night before; a tree can partially uproot after a wind event. Outdoor conditions can change momentarily.

Train yourself to look with a keen eye. Always inspect your regular climbing trees in the springtime when the trees have produced new leaves. Are there any new dead branches? Also, check your trees for broken branches or a lightning strike after a severe storm.

There are four distinct assessment “zones” to look at before you climb a tree. What follows is a discussion of each to determine how and what to look for to detect potential risks in a tree.

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