October 15, 2009
Gage Park was home to some of Ontario’s top tree climbers at the 21st Annual Ontario Tree Climbing Championship, hosted this year by the City of Hamilton on Sat., Sept. 12th.

Both first place winners are from longstanding LO companies.

The tree climbing event is held in a different part of the province each year. It provides the arborists and tree workers of Ontario an opportunity to demonstrate their skills in a competitive environment.

Arborists, who are the frontline workers in the urban tree care industry, keep trees healthy and safe. They use special rope and saddle climbing techniques to safely ascend and work in a tree. An arborist employs a skill set that is physically and mentally challenging, and his role has never been more important as society recognizes the value of urban trees in the battle against climate change.

The competition featured 30 climbers from across the province. Twenty-five men and five women competed in the following preliminary events: work climb, where a climber must move through the tree and complete specific work stations; speed climb, where the climber is timed ascending the tree using a special harness and climbing rope; secured footlock, which is a timed event where the climber must ascend the tree using the challenging “footlock” style of rope climbing; throwline, which measures the climber’s ability to install a climbing line into the tree canopy using a throw weight and throwline, and aerial rescue, where the climber must ascend the tree and rescue an injured climber (a special mannequin is used).

The top four men and top two women from the preliminary events advance to the Master’s Challenge, where the competitor must ascend the tree from the ground, complete designated tasks and then descend, all within a specified time limit. All events are judged with safety being the top priority. The top finishers are crowned Ontario men’s and women’s tree climbing champions. They will vie against competitors from around the world for the 2010 ISA International Tree Climbing Championship in Chicago, Ill., on July 23 and 24.

Congratulations to the Ontario winners this year: women, Krista Strating from Arborwood Tree Service of Caistor Centre, and in second place Patricia Leier from the City of Hamilton. The men’s champion is Benjamin Sauve of Davey Tree Service of Burlington, second, John Ransom of Arboriculture Canada, St. Catharines, third, Brian Zylstra of the City of London and fourth, Sean Hoodort, City of Guelph.