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TOPIC: A question to professional tree climbers.

A question to professional tree climbers. 15 years 3 months ago #122819

  • treeman
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I want to open this discussion with why one makes the decision to become a professional tree climber? With some folks, it is merely a job opportunity. But for people who stay in the profession it is not just another job. The work is hard physically and extremely dangerous in that one is using sharp cutting instruments very close to the body while heavy pieces of wood are falling all around the cutter.

Here’s why I decided to stay with the work, even though it often frightens me speechless. Looking back, I often wondered why I was drawn to dangerous activities. Rock climbing, karate with heavy amounts of sparring, and bicycle racing kept me occupied before I found my true occupation 25 years ago. About 4 years ago I was clinically diagnosed as ADHD- attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Scientists are not really sure what creates this condition (there are many theories) but there are many common results of the condition. For me, the biggest reaction to the condition is that I get bored easily and I need to exercise A LOT or I will not sleep well. Stimulation, both physically and mentally, is required to keep me happy. My mind needs to be in a place where creativity is needed to keep me occupied and focused or I get distracted and loose interest in my surroundings (which can make relationships with others not always easy).

Tree climbing as a profession came as an accident. I was visiting my parents in Dallas in 1978 and along came a major ice storm. Every tree had a broken branch New Years Day. I had never run a chainsaw but I knew how to climb rocks. I knew the practice of protecting ones self and my Mom, being a botanist, knew how to prune trees.

I knew I had found my profession on my first climb. It was slow in the beginning. VERY SLOW!! I didn’t make all that much money either. I had no idea of how long a job took or what to charge. But I was not at all bored, I used my body and mind to survive (in a literal sense), and I got paid for doing something that was adventurous and fun. Every job was different, and still is. I was not on an assembly line job. And my rope handler (my Dad was my first hand) and I bonded in a way I had never bonded with a coworker before (it was immediately evident that a ropeman could make or break (literally) a climber). I would never recommend one start from scratch the way I did it (it is always best to work under a skilled climber for a while to get the general idea of how it is done) but that is how it happened for me.

SO HERE’S THE QUESTION I want to ask other professional climbers. How many other climbers have been diagnosed with ADHD? It can be done easily with a questionnaire. The diagnosis helped me immensely in that it explained why I was drawn to many things and I was able to forgive my self as I got distracted by a million things which often did not help me in my business or relationships with others. I cherish my condition as a plus and can now work around many of its difficulties. Is ADHD something others who climb something they have thought about?
Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins
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Why I climb 15 years 3 months ago #122859

  • ted welch
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Thank you, Treeman, for your candid description of your own introduction to treeclimbing as a profession. As a carpentry contractor who has been drawn to climbing as a form of recreation, I have often wondered what the attraction is. Lord knows, my wife of nearly 40 years can't figure it out. She thinks I'm crazy. I too have many of the behavioral traits asscociated with ADD/HD. These were only recognized in my instance in the last three years. For the first half century of my life I struggled to hold onto jobs, to finish projects I had started, to pay attention to details, and generally to focus when faced with boring tasks. I won't say that tree climbing is the perfect outlet for me because for one thing, I have less energy than I used to have. And, thus far I have not found a local soulmate to climb with. But there are elements about the activity of climbing into trees which make it a welcome respite from the stresses of running a home remodeling business. Learning to deal with immediate and palpable risk is a positve for me. Basically, if I don't continually work on mastering known climbing techniques and practices, I risk serious injury or death with every climb. There are very few careers today (apart perhaps from firefighting) which have the potential to be so life threatening. The necessity to focus on the immediate task, to size up the particular challenges presented by a particular tree, and to solve each problem as it presents itself - these are all things which I find bring a lot of satisfaction when practised regularly. Another attraction for me is perhaps the ego food of being on the cusp of an as yet unfamiliar sport, of being able to share my enthusiasm with others, of being recognized as a pioneer on a new frontier, or maybe just being accepted as someone who cares about the welfare of a part of nature which most of the human race sees as either a source of shade from the sun or firewood to warm the winter night. I sense traces of the exhibitionist in a number of the postings on this message board. Nothing wrong with this, but I do think each of us needs to think also about projecting those other motivations which draw us to this sport/work. In a past era of my life I was a part-time magician. I was captivated by fooling my audiences. The better my technique, the more certain I could be of tricking the spectator. I realized that I got off on essentially telling my audience that I knew something they didn't know, and I was going to use it to fool their senses. They would then ask, "how'd you do that?" As a magician I was bound by the tenets of the craft to say that I could not reveal these secrets. I gradually got less and less satisfaction from plying the trickster.
Well, tree climbing can probably seem magical to many of us at times, but we should be eager to include others in what we are about, and not to convey the impression that tree climbers have any sort of secret knowledge.
For myself, I'd like to see a feature film with a tree climbing segment in it. This might do for our sport what the film Breaking Away did for the sport of cycling generally and cycle racing in particular.
In the meantime, I like the idea of TCI developing literature, decals, more training programs, etc. by which we can properly publicize the sport/art/craft of tree climbing.
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15 years 2 months ago #123092

  • arborcarejosh
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First, since I am new to this board let me introduce myself. I am Josh Parsons of Arbor Care Tree Service in Chattanooga TN.

I started working with trees in a storm. It was four years before I ever had any professional training, or knew anything about gear and safety. In the early days I just shimmied up and climbed a tree, really lucky that I didn't die, but God has been with me through every tree.

That was 1989, and since then I have worked for four different tree service companies. I have been to college as an Arborist and for Business, and now own my own company. Safety is a big concern now for me, but I am known far and wide for my ability to take down difficult trees. Much of my work comes from other Tree Service Companies calling me to do thier difficult trees.

I like everything about working with trees. I don't like to cut trees down. Actually I prefer to help save trees, but I am an expert at taking down large trees over houses and power line obsticals. I like the money that can be made, the hard work, the heights - everything.

May God continue to bless us all in the coming year.
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Why I do it? 14 years 11 months ago #123300

  • kenton
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I started climbing at about age 18 or 19 and have owned 2 tree services since. After the wind and ice storms in 1990 everybody who had a truck and chainsaw decided to call themselves a tree service. Alot of people got hurt and likely millions of dollars in property was damaged. After awhile it was embarassing to say I owned a tree service. So I went back to school and got an MSCE in computers. A couple years of sitting inside working on computers left me out of shape. So dug out my climbing gear and started climbibg for exercise. 2 years ago I sold the computer business and started climbing for a living again. I have always been very safety minded and have never taken a fall, been hurt or hurt anybody else.
But I enjoy showing off occationaly. We all know what it is like when you are 150 foot up in a tree and knock the top out and look around and see everybody in the neighborhood standing out in the street watching you. I live in western Washington where we have some truelly big trees. Some are in residential areas and present a threat to homes and have to be removed. I own my own business but I do alot of contract climbing for other services also. I am 40 years old and in better physical condition than alot of 25 year old men. I just can see myself doing anything else.TextBlack
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14 years 6 months ago #123904

  • NTS
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Hi im a qualified arborist from Australia, I have been climbing professionaly since I left high school (11yrs). I am now studing forestry at university. I also operate a small tree bussiness (Natures Tree Surgeon) which pays for my uni education. I first got into tree work when I was tafe (Technical and Further Education) studying greenkeeping when I noticed the tree surgery class climbing in a park near the college, the next week I quit greenkeeping and started arboriculture. The beauty about tree work is that everyday is different, every tree has its own personality and way it must be pruned or removed.My friends think im crazy doing such a dangerous job, but with proper training and knowlegde the danger becomes less of a issue. I must say I still always hold a healthy respect for tree work and never get to complacent in regards to the danger invoved. Still after a decade of climbing on the morning of a big big tree take down I must admit I still get those butterflies in the stomach, but once the spikes are on and the chainsaw starts the feeling fades quickly and all hands are on deck, its that excitment that keeps me going along with working with one of natures most precious resources this planet has to offer.To sum things up I love the job and everything that goes with it. Every professional climber knows the feeling of taking down a massive tree (urban)and the look of the onlookers on the ground as you perform arboreal acrobatics it sorts of puts you in a different class that only climbers can know.
Craig
PS please support the fight to stop logging Tasmanias old growth forest (tallest HARDWOODs in the world) Eucaylptus regnans at
www.wilderness.org.au/regions/tas
thanks:D
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Why do we decide to cut down trees 13 years 3 months ago #126016

  • jlehnerd
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I have to say I am really enjoying this web site. I have been reading post all night. way past my bed time now but i just had to put in my couple of pennies worth. I got into the tree business because God saw fit for me to be able to buy a house with 36 40 year old pines on the property. every 10 feet around property line there was a pine tree. I have always liked trees so this was great I thought till I tryed to keep the pool working. well pine straw changes the ph of the pool so it was a real mess. I am a fireman as my full time job and a certified level 3 rope rescue specialist for Virginia so I knew I had enough rope knowledge to deal with the trees just needed to learn how to climb them. well that started my tree removal business. after I had removed the 8th tree from my property all the neighbor hood had been watching me it turns out. Well I have always like climbing trees even as a kid I you could always find me up a tree somewhere. as a teenager the thing was to see how high up a tree we could build a cabin. 64 feet is the highest I have ever had a cabin. and a cabin from our description had to be at least 10 X 10. Anyway I no longer cut down trees as my part time business because my back just doesn't like the work now but I still climb trees with my kids. they don't climb big trees but i want to get them into climbing with rope. it is much safer then the hand over hand method. I still have old customers who will call me and ask if I will take a tree down for them and if they are willing to deal with the mess on the ground afterwards I give them a deal. I have never used Ddrt for tree climbing because I only did tree removal not repair. I am no arborist just a tree killer of sorts. I look forward to doing some camping up in the trees soon. I just need to change out some of my equiptment for the more tree friendly stuff.

My whole life I can't think of anything that gives me more enjoyment than looking out over the landscape from the canopy of a tree. I would like to climb a 300 or more tree someday.

Anyone living out where they grow that size want to invite me out for a climb in your neck of the woods. I will just hop a plane and be right there!! :D
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ADD 13 years 2 days ago #126789

  • mtvigilante
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i am in training to become an isa certified arborist, i suppose i'm an ok climber, no 100 footers yet. i have add, as do all 5 of my siblings in varying degrees, and my mother. it has caused me some problems throughout life, such as Ted has described. i cant finish anything (except a beer), i am a horrible procrastinator, i spend hours doing nothing but excersizing my mind in front of the computer or a technical book. i surf the net with anywhere from 3 to 9 windows at a time, while watching tv. this has caused me some problems deciding on and keeping a job as i lose iterest and patience quickly. this also affects my climbing...i can really psyc myself out on some comparatively easy tasks, just depends on my mood. one day i'm hangin upside down, shaping heavy tips and limbwalking, the next i'm hugging the tree so hard i tire myself out too much to even pull myself up the tree. (my boss says the footlock method is for weaklings and fatties)
my boss has been climbing for 31 years and has had his business for 25 now. he is an excellent teacher, and has NEVER raised his voice at me. he doesn't pressure me to hurry up, although he will let me know when i've made him his money on the job. he videotapes me while he's in the boom, which is extremely helpful in critiqueing your technique and style. another good thing about him is he's always open to suggestion, and we have good conersations about tree biology and identification. i'm learning fast enough that he trusts me enough to send me on some jobs with just a grunt and the chip truck. thank god i found a job where you are given credit for taking initiative and learning new things. and it's all osha approved!
i used to do tree removals with a ladder and a pole saw, some pretty complicated dumps. it's a miracle i am alive to tell the tale...and i never made any money. 125 bucks to take down an 80' elm between 2 houses, with other small obstacles in the way? sure it sounds like a good idea when your family is starving..but what if you don't come home???
anyways, i'm glad to hear there are other patience-challenged people climbing trees. the internet is a wealth or knowledge and a great link to people that have been there before. thanks to everyone that writes down their point of view!!
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Deep respect for anyone who works in the trees. 12 years 11 months ago #126809

  • treeman
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MTV- you've got a good boss. Do your best and never feel like you can not voice your viewpoints while doing tree work. It is always different when you are aloft with the saw. Communicate at all times and you will be much safer. Study hard for the ISA test too. Good for you by advancing yourself.
Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins
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