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Tree climbers go high

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | October 2, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — For Aneesa Winn, the easy part of the Pacific Northwest International Society of Arboriculture’s annual Tree Climbing Championship was when she was more than 100 feet off the ground.

“Once you get up there, putting aside the time pressure and the people watching, it just feels like a day at work,” she said Saturday after winning the competition at City Park.

Noel Rodriguez of Auburn, Wash., won the men's division. He said he trained well, felt stronger as he went and the results were there.

“It’s a big tree, a lot of work to do,” he said. “I did what I could.”

Both qualify for next year’s international tree-climbing competition and took home some prize money.

Saturday’s championships, being held in Coeur d'Alene for the first time in a decade, featured about 25 of the region’s top tree climbers. The preliminary events were aerial rescue, belayed speed climb, ascent, work climb and throwline.

The top three men and top two women scored by judges advanced to the masters’ challenge watched by about 100 people.

In the final round, each is scored on their ability to assess the tree for hazards, install a rope into the canopy from the ground, ascend quickly into the tree, move safely and efficiently through it to four stations, descend and remove all their gear within 25 minutes.

It is "designed to mimic a typical workday when climbing an exceptional tree."

Both Rodriguez and Winn were the only ones to reach three stations and make a quick descent.

Getting the rope into the canopy of the American chesnut trees that stood well over 100 feet proved to be the toughest part for several competitors.

“The trees were a bear to climb,” said Logan Collier, the head judge from Portland.

Winn said it was exciting to get off the ground after several attempts at securing a line into the tree.

“Sometimes it can be a pain in the ass,” she said, laughing.

Once in the trees, swinging and maneuvering between branches, it was routine, even relaxing, she said.

“You do what you do at work,” Winn said. "After you get up there, I would say that’s the easier part.”

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Noel Rodriguez checks his rope before climbing in Saturday's Pacific Northwest International Society of Arboriculture’s annual Tree Climbing Championship at City Park.

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Aneesa Winn begins her ascent in the final round of Pacific Northwest International Society of Arboriculture’s annual Tree Climbing Championship on Saturday at City Park.

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Noel Rodriguez works his way through the final round of the Pacific Northwest International Society of Arboriculture’s annual Tree Climbing Championship on Saturday at City Park.

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