Basic Tree Climbing

Basic Tree Climbing
Climbing trees is a great way to unwind. It gives you a new perspective on your surroundings and helps bring you closer to nature. Besides their aesthetic value, trees release pure oxygen in the daytime and trace amounts of nitrous oxide (or laughing gas) that contribute to our feeling of peace and well-being.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Good shoes
  • Good shoes
Step 1
Use a hands-only method. There are many ways to climb trees. Some involve ropes and gadgets, such as an ascender or a pulley. However, the best tree climbing is done simply by hand. Start with trees that are easy to climb before moving up to more challenging, taller trees.
Step 2
Eye a route up the tree before you begin. Try to determine what each stage of the climb will require. Each tree is different. Some require gripping the bark, others jumping for limbs, and still others climbing up a hanging branch similar to climbing up a rope. There are some basic climbing strategies applicable to all trees, but it's up to you to put them into practice.
Step 3
Know that you need strong arms and legs. A good climber uses his legs to rest most of his weight on, reaching with the arms to replace the feet at the next foothold. Make sure you have good, solid footing at each stage of the climb. Sometimes you need to move through a series of holds to reach a strong foothold. When you get one, don't be afraid to rest for a while.
Step 4
Use the leg-over. Sometimes you may need to get on top of a limb from a position underneath it. Often you'll be hanging from a limb in your climb up to the canopy. Pivot backwards, using your shoulders and your latissimus dorsi muscles to mobilize your trunk, and kick up your leg. Fit one leg through your arms until the calf is hooked over the branch in question. You should be close to upside down at this point. Use your other leg as a counterweight to help swing you around, up on to the branch. This is a very useful technique. It requires strong stomach muscles, among other things.
Step 5
Rope up branches. For mature trees with tall trunks and high branches, roping up hanging branches can be a great way to get up into the canopy. This takes some skill and strength, and can be dangerous as the branch you will be ascending will be fairly thin at the point closest the ground. This technique is particularly good on trees like weeping willows with long, slender branches. Jump up and grasp a limb. Pull it down with your body weight, testing it for strength. You should feel some bounce to it. Then, hand over hand, begin climbing. Using the insole of one foot and the top of the other, climb up the branch like you were climbing a rope. Pull on your arms, bringing your knees up to near your chest. Then, gripping the branch between your feet, extend upwards, reaching for your next hold. Repeating this motion will bring you up into the canopy, where the branches level out. You can now, slowly and carefully, approach the trunk and find a comfortable place to sit.
Step 6
Grip the bark. Some trees, like giant redwoods, have soft bark. You can actually grip into this bark with a bit of perseverance. The bark typically grows in thick chunks you can grip your fingers round. Be careful using this method, as the bark sometimes comes loose, and you can fall. This is good only for the first few holds up to the branches, where more typical climbing comes into play.
Step 7
Move along the branches. Don't try to walk along branches unless they are very wide. The best way to move along nearly level branches is by hooking one foot over the limb behind you and letting your other leg dangle vertically. This will give you a counter weight and add to your stability. You want to reach forward with your hands and pull your body along afterward. You can use your hooked foot to help propel you forward. It's useful to use it and your hands to lift yourself off the branch as you move forward. Then, scoot your foot up behind you and repeat this. Even if you slip, you shouldn't fall out of the tree while moving in this manner.
Step 8
Use knots and sawn-off limbs for great holds. Even on hard bark trees, the right knot can offer a good enough hold to climb through to the next, more solid hold. Always keep an eye out for handholds while climbing.

Tips & Warnings

 
Climbing trees can be dangerous. If you fall, you can break limbs or even die. Always use caution when climbing, and never attempt climbing anything that is too challenging. It's always best to start small and slow. Climbing even a little tree is great fun. When you get more competent, you may want to start using ropes and belays, climbing with friends. Remember, it's easier to climb up than down. This is due to the anterior symmetry of a human, with the head at one end. Reaching up, in plain view, is always easier than feeling your way down. So, be prepared to climb down whatever it is you're climbing up. Although some damage is unavoidable (such as breaking twigs and dislodging leaves), always strive to minimize your impact on the tree. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep three points of contact between yourself and the tree at all times. There are moments when this is impossible, such as when hanging from a branch, but it's a good safety tip to keep in mind.
 
Climbing trees can be dangerous. If you fall, you can break limbs or even die. Always use caution when climbing, and never attempt climbing anything that is too challenging. It's always best to start small and slow. Climbing even a little tree is great fun. When you get more competent, you may want to start using ropes and belays, climbing with friends.
 
Remember, it's easier to climb up than down. This is due to the anterior symmetry of a human, with the head at one end. Reaching up, in plain view, is always easier than feeling your way down. So, be prepared to climb down whatever it is you're climbing up.
 
Although some damage is unavoidable (such as breaking twigs and dislodging leaves), always strive to minimize your impact on the tree.
 
A good rule of thumb is to try to keep three points of contact between yourself and the tree at all times. There are moments when this is impossible, such as when hanging from a branch, but it's a good safety tip to keep in mind.

Article Written By Benjamin Williams

Ben Williams is an award-winning reporter and freelance writer based out of Colorado. He has written for conglomerates of newspapers and magazines, supplying news, features, editorial and opinion. While running an Energy Services and consulting firm, he also writes for multiple websites.

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