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Scottish Tree Climbing Competition 2023

Author:  Mark Foster
  06/12/2023
Last Updated:  06/12/2023
Oscar Schad, who came in first place. (David Whyte)

Oscar Schad, who came in first place. (David Whyte)

Mark Foster

On the back of last year’s success in Perth, the Scotland Branch organised this year’s tree climbing competition in Dundee’s well-loved park, Camperdown.

Grant Murdoch (bottom) who came second with Ossian Butler (top), one of the techs, who was the real spirit of the competition. (David Whyte)

Grant Murdoch (bottom) who came second with Ossian Butler (top), one of the techs, who was the real spirit of the competition. (David Whyte)

Many may be familiar with the history of the Camperdown elm (Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’) that was discovered around 1835 by Lord Camperdown’s head forester, David Taylor, who noticed a mutated wych elm branch running along the ground. Apparently, every Camperdown elm is grafted from a cutting taken from the original parent tree. We can also thank Lord Camperdown for the vast array of fine trees spread across the park. There are some absolute beauties here and the park is well worth visiting if you are ever passing. Dundee is Scotland’s only southern-facing city and we were blessed with a reasonably sunny day for everyone to enjoy the competition.

The event is structured around the guidelines set out for the International Society of Arboriculture’s International Tree Climbing Champtionships, although we have not included a Masters event yet as we are still in the early days of generating interest among the Scottish tree climbing community. Although branded as a competition, the event is all about having fun whilst learning more about the competition scene.

We had five trees rigged ready for each discipline – throw-line, rescue, speed, ascent and work climb, with a team of technicians and judges stationed on each. The competitors made their way round each one and gained points based on time taken and organisation of their equipment. The competitors took to the stage confidently, and with an enthusiastic audience they powered through the stations showing great skill and competence. It’s not an easy task doing the things you do day-to-day in front of a large audience, so well done to all the competitors!

The structure of each of the disciplines reflects a typical everyday scenario that tree climbers have to overcome to enable work to commence. They offer a great opportunity to learn new skills, and because they are timed events, they can allow a climber to gain a greater understanding of how they work under pressure, which is especially relevant to the aerial rescue event. It is commonly said by climbers that they should practice aerial rescue yet don’t. This is something that needs to become part of a climber’s professionalism, and climbing events are a great way to start the process. The Scotland Branch is looking to run a climber’s workshop event at least once a year with an aerial rescue day already in the planning.

The Branch’s sub-committee made up of climbers aims to build momentum with the annual competition and other planned events. The main focus is to bring climbers together and expand our knowledge. The feedback has been very positive about what has already been achieved after only two competitions. There is an enthusiasm for what is beginning to shape up as a positive network of tree climbers in Scotland.

To thank everyone that gave up their weekend to come and help with the event would take some time. However, I would like to directly thank Chris Simpson for his support, encouragement and collating all the scores. All the committee members, the technicians and judges, the competitors and all the spectators all get a large thank you. Gratitude to Doug Shearer from Dundee City Council for allowing us to use Camperdown Park, Robertson Tree Surgery for bringing the MEWP and finally a huge appreciation to Honey Brothers and H&W Training and Workwear for sending up a box of goodies to give out as prizes.

Results

1st  Oscar Schad
2nd  Grant Murdoch
3rd  Jacques Findlater


This article was taken from Issue 203 Winter 2023 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.