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Tree climbing gets competitive

Published: 06 May 2016

Image of Christine Rampling by Penny Bradfield. Image supplied.

Canberra is preparing to host its first ever tree climbing championships - a competitive industry event for professional tree surgeons (arborists). The event will be free to the community to watch. We caught up with local arborist and CIT teacher Christine Rampling to find out about this unique profession, and why this is an event not to be missed.

How did you come to be a professional tree climber?

I knew I wanted to be working outdoors when I left school. Encouraged by my year 12 geography teacher, I started looking at apprenticeships and began applying for horticulture apprentice jobs, scoring a fantastic position at Parliament House in the Landscape Services section. I completed my Certificate III in Horticulture at CIT, where I won the Award of Excellence in Horticulture.

One day I saw arborists working in a tree. I had no idea that was even a job! I started looking at moving from horticulture to arboriculture and got a job for a local tree surgery company. I completed a certificate III then diploma level qualification at CIT, started my own business, and now I am back at CIT teaching the course. I was also chuffed to be asked to be on the committee of the Australian Capital Tree Community (ACTC), which is organising the Australian Capital Tree Community Climbing Championships.

What’s so important about next month’s Australian Capital Tree Community Climbing Championships?

The ACTC Climbing Championships is the ACT’s inaugural event. We are usually lumped in with NSW so holding our own championships is a defining moment in the ACT arboriculture industry. This is an event not to be missed!

Tree climbing in arboriculture is a physically demanding, high-risk job. A tree climber needs to be fit, alert and confident. For arborists, tree climbing competitions are fun and thrilling. For spectators, it will be exciting!

What will be the best events to watch?

There will be two speed events, the ‘footlock’ and the ‘speed climb’. These require speed and a high level of fitness. My favourite event is the ‘aerial rescue’ – it’s dramatic! It’s fast paced, adrenalin pumping entertainment where a climber simulates rescuing a colleague.

Who do you think will be the competitors to watch?

There will be some great competitors to watch at this event. The current national tree climbing champion, Barton Allen-Hall is a born and bred Canberran, and has also just placed second at the world championships in Texas. Up and coming local arborist Maja Blasch will compete for the women, and Jamie Montgomery from Brisbane is one smooth operator and unreal to watch!

The Australian Capital Tree Community Climbing Championships will be held in Telopea Park, Kingston, from 6 May to 8 May. Click here to view the event details.