Craig’s climbing down after 16 years
Pirongia arborist on solid ground
After 16 years of climbing in regional and national arborist competitions, Pirongia’s Craig Wilson is hanging up his harness.
The Wilson Trees and Landscaping owner has had a stellar year of climbing.
In August he represented New Zealand for the second time on the world stage in the International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC).
The challenge, held at Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio, featured five preliminary events which simulated workrelated tasks when pruning and caring for trees.
The five events were the work climb (which included five stations), aerial rescue (using a dummy), throwline (installing climbing lines), footlock (climbing a vertical rope) and speed climbing.
The competitors who scored the highest in the preliminary events competed in the Masters’ Challenge championship for the title of male and female world champion.
Craig came second in the preliminaries and fifth overall in the Masters’ final.
He was up against the the best 50 male and 25 female climbers from over the world.
One of New Zealand’s female climbers, Chrissy Spence, came second overall and James Kilpatrick, another male New Zealand representative, won first place overall.
James, Craig and Chrissy — in that order — were the three fastest climbers in the preliminaries’ work climb
Craig also placed third overall in the aerial rescue.
“The life-sized dummy this year was placed with legs either side of a branch union and was unconscious and unresponsive after an uncontrolled swing,” Craig says.
“I performed a method called a ‘pick and go’ where I used my own body weight to lift the dummy out of the crotch and bring him down.”
Craig says temperatures reached 34 degrees celsius over the competition weekend.
“The heat was an added factor to contend with.”
But that didn’t stop Craig from having a blast with his wife Talia and the other competitors.
“The atmosphere was fun. We had booked a big house which 15 people from New Zealand, Australia and Germany shared. It’s great how even in such a competitive environment the level of camaraderie and friendship is still paramount.”
In September, Craig climbed in a new competition called Red Bull Branched Out, in Wellington, Australia, a small town five hours inland from Sydney.
Around 100 climbers from all over the world competed in the event run by Arboriculture Australia.
“The rules and set-up were very different for this competition,” Craig says.
“It’s basically just a race from the top of a large tree which has bells of varying difficulty to reach.
“The aim is to get from the top of the tree to the landing station on the ground the fastest but hitting all bells on the descent.
“It was a knock-out scenario. Each time the successful group reached the next stage, extra bells were put in the tree.”
“Unlike national and world competitions, the competition is just about speed and determination.”
Craig says the competition was fierce, but he made it through to the finals, coming third overall.
Now, after an epic year of competing, Craig wants to focus his energy on his business and family life.
“It feels like the right decision to make, and it was great to see fellow climber and friend Scott Forrest take out the top spot again.”
Talia Wilson says it’s been a wonderful 16 years of competitions.
“It’s been awesome for our two girls to see and support their dad, too.
“They’re so proud, as are the rest of us who support him.”
Pirongia’s Craig Wilson with his 2017 and 2018 climbing achievements.