After matching attendees with the right climbing gear, the tree climbing instruction begins! The instructing team approaches the curriculum methodically, first focusing on the moving rope system, teaching the closed climbing system, followed by the open system, and building from there. In some cases, it is appropriate to move on to teaching stationary rope climbing (a more advanced technique) and its difference to the moving rope system. In other situations, participants may prefer to spend their time perfecting their skills on the moving rope systems or learning throwline (the technique of setting a line into a tree). Bear, Melissa, and their lead instructor Rebecca Seibel have a remarkable ability to understand what each unique cohort of learners requires and how to adjust the agenda to meet their needs. They are supported by an incredible team of assistant instructors, ensuring the instructing team is large enough to give each participant attention and feedback so that everybody leaves with a strong foundation in tree-climbing and the confidence to apply their new skills.
I was lucky enough to attend WTCW in the infant stages of my climbing career when I was just far enough along to accept that battling my throwline would be a regular morning ritual. Being a part of this workshop was invaluable to me as a climber. I learned proper climbing skills before I had time to create a habit of bad ones. I began to understand different types of ropes and harnesses and when they are appropriate. Most importantly, however, I felt seen. The workshop acknowledges that being a woman in the field of arboriculture can be an isolating experience. WTCW aims to counteract this by empowering women in their skills, building an ever-growing network of women in the field, and providing a strong reminder that we not only belong in this field, we have tremendous value to offer it.
Paradoxically, women, who have been underserved and underrepresented in the field of arboriculture for so long, now have access to one of the best tree climbing workshops available in the United States. Thanks to Bear and Melissa, an increasing number of confident, knowledgeable, and skilled women are entering the field as climbers! If you’re interested in learning to climb trees, check out WTCW and their upcoming workshops!
This year, PlanIT Geo sponsored the Texas Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop in March, where the author participated as an assistant instructor.