Tree-climbing arborists to compete at Purdue for state title

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Professional tree climbers will compete Sept. 24 in the Indiana Arborist Association’s Tree Climbing Championship at Purdue University for the right to represent the state in an international contest.

The competition at Squirrel Park at the corner of Airport Road and state Route 26 will begin at 8 a.m. EST. It will feature 15-20 climbers, mostly from Indiana but including others from surrounding states who will use the occasion to practice for their state competitions. Only members of the Indiana group can compete for the Indiana title. 

Purdue arborist Jeff Clark uses the secured foot lock technique as he practices for the Indiana Arborist Association’s Tree Climbing Championship that will be Sept. 24 on the Purdue campus. Above him and watching his climb is Lindsey Purcell, the association’s executive director and an urban forestry specialist in Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Keith Robinson)

The winner will represent the state in the 2012 International Tree Climbing Competition in Portland, Ore., in August 2012. 

“Professional tree competitions help arborists learn about the latest techniques in climbing and innovations in equipment, showcasing professional skills and safety for those working in the tree care and arboriculture industry,” said Lindsey Purcell, executive director of the Indiana Arborist Association and an urban forestry specialist in Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

“Competitive tree climbing also introduces the public to the skills professional tree climbing arborists must develop,” he added.

The competitions simulate working conditions of arborists, testing a competitor’s ability to safely maneuver in a tree while performing work-related tree-care tasks in a timely manner. Men and women competitors perform five events during preliminary rounds. The events are:

* Work climb: Climbing to five stations in a tree and performing a different task at each station.

* Aerial rescue: Reaching and safely lowering a 175-pound, life-sized mannequin that represents an injured climber.

* Throwline: Accurately placing climbing lines up to 50 feet up a tree.

* Belayed speed climb: Ascending a predetermined route from the ground to about 50 feet up the tree.

* Secured footlock: Performing a 40-foot vertical ascent using double-climbing line technique.

There will be a winner in each event but only one overall winner.

Admission to the competition is free.

There are about 50 chapters of the International Society of Arboriculture, with headquarters in Champaign, Ill. Each will hold competitions to send a representative to the international event.

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722,

Source: Lindsey Purcell, 765-494-3625,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; 
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

Note to online editors:  A link to a video clip of Purdue forestry students practicing tree climbing is at the bottom of this news release. The video can be embedded in your website


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