A tree with a lean may present particular challenges and benefits to a climber. Trees leaning out over water or hillsides can offer a beautiful view of the surrounding area. However, climbing dangers include the possibility of the tree uprooting or breaking under the added weight of a climber. Check for the following before climbing a leaning tree.
- The trunk base opposite the tree lean. Rake back the leaves around the trunk on the opposite side of the lean. Look for air spaces between the dirt and the trunk, which can signal a tree in the process of uprooting. Fungus or decayed roots opposite the lean increase risk significantly.
- Raised soil. Inspect the ground for raised or cracked soil opposite the lean and/or broken root ends emerging from the soil. These signal a tree in an advanced stage of uprooting.
- Cracked trunk. Leaning trees often show visible cracks produced by the tremendous weight stress. Carefully look around the first ten feet (3 meters) of the trunk. The cracks are usually obvious because of the exposed lighter colored sapwood or raised seam ridges over older cracks.