Origin-Peter Treeman Jenkins. This is a term I invented in 1980 to describe and define one of my favorite activities- climbing to the top of a tree during a windy day and riding the winds.
Meaning- Riding the winds in the treetops. I had recently been to California and seen surfers ride the waves and it seemed I was doing the same kind of thing- riding the crest of a wave but much more invisible until it hit the tree. I'm speaking about the wind of course. I could see the wind wave coming towards me from my treetop perch by the effect on the trees nearby. A big wind wave would have the trees bow down deeply and it would only take a few seconds before it loudly swept over my tree. Some trees are more limber, like the pine trees which creates a larger sweep of motion. One day I came down from one of my adventures and a person walked up to me and asked me what I was doing. I was unhooking from my rope and looked at the inquiring person as I tried to regain my land legs and made what seemed as a coherent reply.
\"I've been tree surfing.\" The older man shook his head and I heard him mumble something as he walked away.
I too discovered the thrill of riding the treetops in high winds in the late 1980's. Of course, I didn't know about using ropes back then Like you, I found I could anticipate each gust by watching the wave approaching across the treetops! I'm sure I used the term 'tree-surfing' too, thinking of a windsurfer hanging on for dear life !!!
Dude! I've done some extensive surfing, back in the day. I engaged the stuff of hurricanes and storm surge; encountered rip tides, sharks, porpoise, urchins, jellyfish, and Coast Guard helicopters. My novice treeclimber question is, \"Do we have a 'beaufort scale' of sorts to understand when to descend from the trees, ie. before gusts turn to gales?\" I'd be a more comfortable treeclimber understanding how to judge, from the treetop, if a wind storm was approaching, preserving enough time to secure climbing partners and gear before too much is risked. I'd like to hear how arborists determine when to make such an critical, hastened descent, if indeed that is recommended. Specifically, I'd like to hear about how either the figure-eight descender or munter hitch, either connected with a spare double-locking carabiner, might play a role in a critical descent circumstance when integrated into a traditional dynamic doubled rope system. The wind in the trees is a wondeful experience. Surf's up!
The first thing to assess is what the worst gust could be and whether the tree is strong and healthy (and some trees are more brittle than others...) Also, look out for dead hanging branches that could be dislodged by a heavy gust.
I guess the best way to be prepared for a swift exit is to have a rope suspended by it's mid point from a strong crotch high up in the tree. Make sure the two ends are tied together before you lower them down to the ground (and that the rope reaches the ground) so that you don't run out of rope on one side before you reach the bottom or you will accelerate at the terrible rate of 9.81m/sÂ²!! This way you can rappel down both ropes together to ground level and pull the rope through afterwards to get it back (this is called a retrievable abseil in mountaineering). Being a rock climber too, I use a Sticht plate to abseil with. An Italian hitch can be used in the absence of an abseiling device - I'm sure there are books or rock climbing instructors who could show you this and other techniques.
One more thing I would say to any novice treeclimber - never use dead or sick-looking branches, no matter how thick - I trusted a dead branch about 6 inches thick when I was new to climbing trees - it broke almost immediately leaving me desperately trying to stay in the tree 35ft above a greenhouse It seems the weight of the branch alone was nearly enough to break it so all it needed was a delicate touch from me...
Sounds like you've got some serious surfing stories to tell - I'm not too keen on water myself so I'll stick to climbing (and snow)!
As a beginner i used to be quite frigthened by the idea of tree surfing. Past May i had to go in a Douglas fir with a low force 7 wind (32–34 mph maybe), no choice, the work has to be done. I must admit that i may have been a bit pale...
Up there the douglas was rocking as expected but i was so surprised to feel that it was also twisting on himself and kind of singing really softly, allmost imperceptibly. Clokwise "huuuu" then counterclockwise "huuuu", oh gosh what a feeling... but instead of being more afraid by this discover i was a lot more surprised to be calmed like cradled by the tree. I could deeply feel how much that fir was strong and reliable. I even climbed above the point i had to reach, just to have some more... never thaught i would be able to do that before climbing there and at that point i wasn't thinking at all about what i used to feel. Just doing it.
I stayed like an hour in this dancing tree, then i felt my fear come back, maybe because i was able to think again... i went back on the ground and i felt it moving like after days on a boat. I was stoned i must say, but sober and clear, "get high, climb a tree" they say, hey that's for sure ! Quite an effect i enjoyed and it lasted allmost two hours.
Unfortunatly i didn't have yet the opportunity to climb again with such a wind but now i'm looking for it !
Beaufort scale is indeed a great tool and it is quite interesting because effects on vegetation are one of the most effective way to apreciate wind forces with this scale.
Force 0 (0-0.9 mph) "Calm" : Leaves are stationary
Force 1 (1-3 mph) "Light air" : Leaves are stationary
Force 2 (4-7 mph) "Light breeze" : Leaves rustle
Force 3 (8–12 mph) "Gentle breeze" : Leaves and small twigs constantly moving
Force 4 (13–17 mph) "Moderate breeze" : Small branches begin to move
Force 5 (18–24 mph) "Fresh breeze" : Branches of a moderate size move
Force 6 (25–30 mph) "Strong breeze" : Large branches get in motion
Force 7 (31–38 mph) "High wind" "Moderate gale" "Near gale" : Whole trees are moving
Force 8 (39–46 mph)"Gale" "Fresh gale" : Twigs can brake
Force 9 (47–54 mph) "Strong gale" : Branches can break and some small trees can be blown
Force 10 (55–63 mph) "Storm" "whole gale" : Trees can be broke or uprooted
Force 11 (64–73 mph) "Violent storm" : Widespread vegetation
Force 12 (≥ 74 mph) "Hurricane" : Severe widespread damage to vegetation
If i understand well tree surfing starts with Force 6, and because branches can be broke at 9 8 should be the limit not to cross. I don't know i'm just a new comer but it looks rational to me. Of course it depends of the tree.
Maybe a pocket anemometer could be an effective tool.
Earlier this year I learned about tree surfing although until I read your article I didn’t know what tree surfing was. I’m 68 years old and I’ll be going tree climbing without ropes or harnesses two years ago. I finding by climbing trees in the manner I do I’m building up superior strength. While of my surfing experience what’s on the Douglas fir in Kenwood London I do most of my climbing I am American beech. However waiting until I can experience a high wind again one another fir I occasionally climb.
Please consider learning to climb WITH ropes and a harness. It is ever so much safer!, especially if you're going to be tree surfing in high wind. Trees and winds are unpredictable!