CLEVELAND, Ohio – The tall trees at Lake View Cemetery have seen a lot over the years, but they’ve probably never been climbed in such style. On Saturday, they hosted arborists and arborists from across the state at the 2022 Ohio Tree Climbing Championship.
Among the hundreds of spectators were many young children who stared in amazement at the adults who made their careers in the treetops.
Hosted by the Ohio Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, the event served to showcase some of the unique skills used by tree workers.
Competitor Jenny Rexroad won the first tree climbing competition she entered in 2021. She returns this year among nearly 30 competitors from Ohio.
“I’ve always been athletic and climbed a lot of trees when I was little,” she said. “I started horticulture school and learned tree climbing as a career. I just decided that was what I was going to do because it looked very fun.
Mac McGuire, an arborist from Westerville, Ohio, spends every working day in the trees. His favorite part of the competition is aerial rescue. Climbers have 3 minutes to safely lower a suspended dummy to the ground acting as an injured climber.
“It’s really important if there is an injured climber that you are able to rescue them. We train frequently at my work, Russell Tree Experts, throughout the year.
Reggie Copes, an arborist from Indianapolis, is one of the volunteer judges. He remembers finding direction after his troubled teenage years by embarking on a career in arboriculture.
“As a child, I used to climb my grandmother’s tree all the time and found out later in life that you could get paid for it.”
Independent Tree founder Alan Kraus volunteered to chair this year’s event with his wife, Lisa Carrelli-Kraus.
“Originally, the tree climbing championship was organized in the 1930s so that tree climbers could show, test and teach their skills with each other,” explains Alan. “It serves the same purpose for our industry today.”
At the end of the day, two finalists were chosen to represent Ohio at the International Tree Climbing Competition. Chardon’s Nick Markley and Cincinnati’s Lily Soderlund will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark in September.