Look up, look way up
Tree climbing competition Saturday in New Glasgow
The steady buzz of chainsaws descended from the treetops of Carmichael Park in New Glasgow Thursday morning as a handful of men bustled about hanging ropes and trimming branches.
The volunteers are in town to prepare for this weekend’s Atlantic Tree Climbing Championship.
“Arbourists from all over Canada get together one a year for an annual meeting and training session followed by our tree climbing championship,” said Matt Wishart, who is serving as head judge for the event, scheduled for Saturday.
The winner, he explained, will have the chance to compete at a similar international event.
The 25 people (23 men and two women) who registered so far for the event will be competing in five different events designed to emulate the tasks arbourists are required to do as part of their job. Events include everything from speed climbing to aerial rescue during which the competitors must safely retrieve a dummy from the tree.
Wishart said it’s all great training and experience for skills they need on the job.
“As arbourists we do have a fairly dangerous job and we spend a lot of time training on emergency scenarios.”
Wishart has personally been involved with the tree climbing championship for eight years and is visiting the area from Moncton.
“We’re all here because we love what we do,” he said.
This is the first time the event has been held in New Glasgow.
“A lot of people don’t understand we need to take care of our trees, especially in an urban setting,” Wishart said. “We picked this place just to get the word out that it’s worth hiring a trained professional that is certified through the ISA or some similar organization.”
Already the hospitality has been wonderful in the community, he said, and he hopes that they’ll see a good crowd come out to watch the events throughout the day. Competitors are expected to start around 8 a.m.
Neil Trebble of Fredericton was also on site and helping set up.
“It’s an excellent way for people throughout the Atlantic provinces to get together and network and come up with some new ideas and techniques,” he said.
Arbourist Danny LeBlanc has competed in the past but said this year he’s going to help with the setup instead.
Arbouriculture he said has been defined by some as the art and science of tree care.
“When you see someone who can move through a tree very efficiently and safely, it’s kind of an art,” LeBlanc said. “Not everyone can do it.”