Climbers in a race to the top of the Bangalow tree

SAFETY FIRST: Integral Tree care employee Mark Gistitin participates in the QAA State of Origin tree climbing competition held at the Bangalow Showgrounds.
SAFETY FIRST: Integral Tree care employee Mark Gistitin participates in the QAA State of Origin tree climbing competition held at the Bangalow Showgrounds. Marc Stapelberg

TINTENBAR tree climber Mark Gistitin will be one of 43 competitors racing to reach the top, literally, in this weekend's Queensland Tree Climbing Championships at Bangalow.

The competitors have gathered from both sides of the border bringing a State of Origin style rivalry with them.

It's the first State of Origin tree climbing competition and the second to be held in Bangalow.

Despite the friendly rivalry, Mr Gistitin said the competition was primarily about getting together with other people in the industry and sharing new techniques and gear.

"It's about having a bit of fun and catching up because tree climbers generally just work in small teams and they can often work in those teams all year without seeing another crew," he said.

"So it kind of brings everyone together and we can bounce ideas off each other and check out what each other are doing because it's often changing, new gear and tools are coming into the industry and new techniques.

"The basis of the competition is basically safety, we're trying to improve the safety mechanisms in the industry."

Stephen Jackson from the Queensland Arboricultural Association said the entrants would be competing in five preliminary events on Saturday before the top three from each state go on to compete in the masters on Sunday.

The preliminary events include two timed climbs, one aerial rescue based on the judges' discretion, a work climb using a weighted station and a limb toss event into a ring on the ground.

Mr Jackson said the six finalists would have 25 minutes to complete the master's tree.

"The master's tree is a large tree and they have to, from the ground upwards, set the line and hit the targets or stations that are pre-determined in the tree, come down and bring all their gear down in the allotted time," he said.

Mr Jackson said the rain had made the climbing more difficult, however safety measures were in place including belays attached to each climber.

The Queensland and NSW winners will represent the state at the 2015 World Tree Climbing Championships in Florida next year.

Topics:  tree climbing

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