Aborists vie for glory in the climb

UP THERE: Brett Hamlin competes in the QAA State of Origin tree climbing titles held at the Bangalow Showgrounds.
UP THERE: Brett Hamlin competes in the QAA State of Origin tree climbing titles held at the Bangalow Showgrounds. Marc Stapelberg

STEADY rain at Bangalow Showgrounds didn't deter more than 40 determined arborists from scaling slippery trees while vying for the Queensland Tree Climbing Championship over the weekend.

"Arborists can't have a day off because it's raining ... they still have to climb trees," organiser Lee Gooch, of Stihl power tools, said.

"It was touch-and-go this morning, but the judges made some changes to the trees to make it safer."

Mr Gooch said 43 competitors, including 15 rookies (first time competitors), took the challenge of scaling the wet Camphor Laurel trees surrounding Bangalow Showground, while battling it out for the 2014 State of Origin Queensland Tree Climbing Championship.

After coming 11th in the recent women's World Tree Climbing Championships and taking out the Pan Pacific title, Mr Gooch said Queensland woman, Rebecca Barnes, provided stiff competition for the men.

"She gave a lot of the guys a run for their money," he said.

Last year's winner, Jamie Montgomery, said the rain slowed the aborists down, but everyone was in good spirits.

Mr Montgomery said battling the wet conditions cost competitors on average five seconds per challenge.

"Because it's so wet, some of the targets the arborists climb for in some challenges have been moved closer to the tree trunk, to reduce the risk, and increase safety," he said.

A determined crowd braved the sodden conditions to watch the experts complete five challenges in the quickest time possible.

From the aerial rescue, which required arborists to scale a tree and rescue a dummy within five minutes, to the foot lock, where climbers ascend a tree 15 metres vertically using their arms, legs and rope, the competition proved tough.

Mr Gooch said arborists from Victoria, the Northern Territory, and all over NSW and Queensland, travelled to Bangalow to compete.

"These guys use our equipment day in, day out, so we like to give something back to the industry that supports us," he said.

The finals were held yesterday as competitors battled for the State of Origin trophy, and a place at the 2015 World Tree Climbing Championships in Florida, USA.


Masters Winner

Mark Gistitin.

NSW Winner

Ben Abeleden.

Topics:  tree climbing

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