Welcome to the first Climbers’ Corner!
I’m happy to have the opportunity to contribute to UrbanForestDweller.com in a different kind of way, sharing with you all what it’s like to live a life off the ground! The goal of this first Climbers’ Corner piece is to offer some insight into this life we tree climbers so passionately love and lean into each and every day. Make no mistake, we climbers are inherently unapologetic about how weird and nerdy we are on this topic. From the subtle way we set up our harness to the reasons for our favorite trees to climb, each climbing arborist brings something unique to the table.
One of the beautiful things about climbing trees is that it offers some beautiful metaphors that we can apply to our day-to-day life. We often hear from others, “Be like a tree…stand tall and proud,” but more of what I’m referring to are the aspects of our work that we apply to life outside of tree climbing. No two trees are the same, thus no two climbs are the same. In life, no two days are the same. The mental fortitude gained from our work inspires a level of confidence that’s unique, in my opinion. I know, in my life, I’ve been in some hairy situations in trees where the consequences were high if things didn’t go right, possibly leading to major damage and/or injury. When I became a father, I leaned into that confidence and experience. Knowing that there’s always a way to make something happen. It may not be glamorous, and you’ll be exhausted by the end of it, but there is always a way.
We experience brand new terrain each and every day, which is part of what makes it all so interesting. It’s why I refer to this as a lifestyle over a career. It consumes us. We are the people in a group of people who are looking up when out in public. We’re looking for tie-in points, redirects, where we should make cuts (also analyzing cuts made by others), where we can set up a cool swing through the crown, and all the while wondering what the view from the top of the tree looks like. Rest assured, the view from the treetops is the best you’ll get, no matter where you are in the world, but especially here in RVA. The perspective you gain from interacting with such giant organisms and seeing what they get to see every day is humbling and gratifying all at the same time.
To be captivated in this way is something rare. Many people search their whole lives to find their passion. Even fewer get to apply said passion to their day-to-day work. Arboriculture, and specifically climbing trees, is unique in this way. We like to say that you don’t find tree work, it finds you. In my career, this theme has played out time and time again. Some hear about climbing trees and think they’ll check it out, seemingly in a very random way. Others maybe saw someone dancing around in the top of a tree at their neighbor’s house, or noticed something moving in the tree while working in their cubicle. They were looking out the window, longing to be outside, and, low and behold, there was someone in the tree doing some work. In that moment, they knew they wanted that freedom instead of being trapped in their office. Others might have a rock climbing background and discovered tree climbing from a desire to live a life aloft. However we come to the business of climbing trees, it’s not a feeling you easily shake. Trees become the canvas on which we paint our artistry for the world. You may have different trails in life that lead us to this profession, but once you discover it, it gets in your blood and you can’t shake it. You’re fully committed and bound for a life of sawdust in your hair and a constant itch to keep your feet off the ground.
We say it’s a calling, it’s a lifestyle, it’s who we are. We are tree climbers. We get dirty and sweaty, A LOT! We get to have an intimate relationship with Mother Nature and the seasons she cycles through. We get wet, either from weather, sweat, blood, or tears, but smiling through most of it because we know we have the greatest job in the world. We’re proud of the calluses and the muscles that the trees demand in order to access their playground. Through storms and sunny days. When the gentle breeze blows on our faces in the treetops. When we’re in a cloud of humidity, trapped in a holler, while climbing the monster trees down by the James. You’ll see us laughing, smiling, swinging, dancing, and living life to the fullest. We know we have the greatest life in the world because we climb trees. It’s who we are, and we’re darn proud of it.
Our hope through Climbers’ Corner, is that you gain some inspiration from a climber’s humble contribution to this space. We’re excited to share with the world a bit of what we get into, and we look forward to the articles ahead. Bear with us as we try to put into words what we experience aloft. It can be kind of difficult at times. The passion, though, is what we are trying to convey to the world, and that never fails to shine through. Take care, stay safe, please wave hello to us when you see us dancing aloft, and give us a call…we’d be absolutely stoked to come climb your trees and show you why we love this life so much.