Tree climbers aim for new heights

Arborists Christine Rampling and Maja Blasch… “Teamwork and co-operation are essential. It’s a team job, it’s not a good job to do solo,” says Maja. Photo by Danielle Nohra

ARBORISTS Christine Rampling and Maja Blasch wonder why they weren’t told in school that tree climbing, as a job, is a thing.

Turns out it is.

And to add to that excitement, in conjunction with Tree Week in May, eligible climbers will compete on May 6 and 7 at Telopea Park, Kingston, for the ACT’s top tree-climbing title.

Maja won the women’s competition last year and Christine, as a committee member of Australian Capital Tree Community (ACTC), will be helping at the event.

Members Christine and Maja have a love for climbing trees, with their tallest being a 60-metre spotted gum.

The Telopea Park competitions are designed to simulate working conditions of arborists with five different events that test a competitor’s ability to professionally and safely manoeuvre around a tree while performing work-related, tree-care tasks.

“It does get complex if you’re running with a lot of ropes,” Maja says.

“But if you’re not aware of hazards, then you shouldn’t be doing the job.”

Maja says accidents happen even to experienced climbers, which is why it’s important to be qualified.

“Teamwork and co-operation are essential. It’s a team job, it’s not a good job to do solo,” she says.

When Christine was learning to use spikes, which are used for trees that need to be removed, she had an accident.

“I was only a couple of metres off the ground when I face planted into the tree and then slid down,” she says.

Maja has had a few incidents, too, saying: “I was up the tree doing some rigging and when I cut a branch, it swung back and crushed my finger and broke it.

“But I was climbing with two people on the ground and was able to get myself down.”

Aside from safety, Christine and Maja want the community to know that unqualified arborists can be ripping customers off.

“We want to promote to the general public, the use of professional arborists,” Christine says.

Maja says some arborists throw around empty threats such as saying trees are rotten to make money.

“It’s best to ask for their qualifications and ask if they’re insured,” she says.

ACT Tree Climbing Championships. Telopea Park, Kingston. May 6-7.

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