Opportunities for education / experience / fun

#1
As a guy with a desk-bound day job, but an enjoyment of trees and an appreciation of new challenges, are there opportunities to casually learn more experienced people?

I discovered that technical tree climbing is a thing about a year ago, and since then I've accumulated a fair bit of gear and done some rec climbing on family property. I've also doe a bit of work for friends -- which leads me to this question.

A couple weeks ago I started a project to take down a couple trees for one of my wife's friends. House she just bought in the suburbs, complaining that "all these trees block the light from my house", talked her down to just removing two and maybe trimming one instead of removing four. All the trees were probably planted when the subdivision went in in the 80s. First was a sweetgum, right next to a deck behind the house, probably 18" or so. That one was easy and fun -- Climbed it like a ladder, cut off all the branches with my handsaw, rigged and lowered some of the higher branches that were overhanging the deck, and dropped the trunk into the back yard. Done in an afternoon. Second was a thornless honeylocust in the front of the house, similar size, but more spreading compared to the sweetgum. Here's where things got complicated -- I had also managed to drag in my dad (who's always down for chainsawing things), and my mom and her boyfriend (who could borrow a dump truck from work to haul away the wood). Second day, we get started in the afternoon and this tree is going slower than the first. There are branches overhanging the house, and a neighbor's shrubs, and it's a more spreading structure. I'm working my way out to where I can make smaller cuts and take out the overhanging stuff without damaging anything below, taking my time to figure out how everything is going to happen. My dad's on the ground being ground crew and another set of eyes, and my mom and her bf are cleaning up the back yard. Everything's going slowly but smoothly, but it's getting dark (damn you shorter days!) so we call it a night and plan to reconvene in the morning.

Next morning, my mother calls me literally sobbing and begging me, to not finish the job, because this 30-year-old tree is "so huge and dangerous". I acquiesce, but have been left very frustrated by what was supposed to be fun. I'm left with several thoughts:

0: I enjoy climbing and working with trees, and I want to continue improving my abilities. However, I'm not prepared to pursue it full-time instead of my day job.

1: I need to get more efficient. If I had been able to finish the honeylocust in one afternoon, as I'm sure any pro could have, it would've been done and a non-issue. Improvements in efficiency will come with experience and learning.

2: I currently have limited opportunities for gaining experience. I live in an apartment, and my dad's property is an hour away. Helping local friends would have been a good side gig and source of experience, but:

3: I'm not good / equipped enough to take on side jobs alone. Unless someone wants a pile of branches left on their yard, I have no way to haul away wood without dragging in family. This job was for a good friend, and I did it for a couple free dinners, but I'm not comfortable taking on paid jobs from less-close friends without getting more formalized, insured, etc.

I know most working professionals are 100% focused on their profession, and I'm sure I'll get a little bit of disdain for just wanting to dabble. I know nobody needs a "helper" who works for free, but only on cool fall weekends, but I'm wondering if there's other opportunities to get in some trees and learn from more experienced people. Perhaps research groups that need people to climb trees to collect data or install instruments? Volunteer groups that do tree work? Half-retired people who want a bit of help on the casual jobs they still take?

"huge scary honey locust" for reference :rolleyes: Screenshot 2018-10-16 11.24.57.png
 
#2
I'm in a similar situation. At this point I'm YouTube taught, though used to do some climbing in caves decades ago. I'm also very cautious. I'm now 67, so I'm not looking for a new career. I live on 4 acres with about half of it wooded. Most of the trees are Green Ash that have been devastated by the EAB. I have identified about 100 trees that, if they fall on their own, could damage things of value--my house, driveway gate, fence, new plantings, other valuable trees, block my driveway, take down power lines, etc. Some of these are small and easily felled as is. About 30 or so need to come down from the top. Several are 60-70 feet tall. Most have died this past summer or are barely hanging in there with just a small part of the canopy with leaves.

I would love to observe professionals doing their thing to learn from them. I can't imagine any company wanting to take me on as a "fair weather" weekend part-timer. I'd love to get some in-person training, but don't know how to get it. I've joined the Wisconsin Arborists Association and will attend a meeting on Thursday hoping to make some connections. I think at this point I'm a decent amateur climber. I'm pretty comfortable climbing SRT, and OK climbing with spurs. I much prefer a handsaw to a chainsaw when aloft, but I'm getting more comfortable with my top handle Tanaka while in the trees. I really love climbing trees and working at height. I love the rush I get when I top a tree and get that nice sway back and forth. Since the trees I climb have been healthy within the last 12 months, I still think they're pretty solid.

I know I said a lot, but it boils down to really wanting to learn more (and soon before these trees have been dead too long to be safe to climb) and not knowing how to get the training. Ideas?
 

Levi.CO

Well-Known Member
#3
How much do you want to spend? You could go to the TCIA expo, they do demos there. Visit an Arbormaster or nATS session? I've met some folks with all of the badges from there with limited abilities but probably better then nothing.

In my opinion nothing beats on the job training, and it takes awhile to become a rock and roll superstar, many never do and get jobs in phc instead, lol. I heard the dead ash are pretty sketch. Good luck don't push it.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
#4
I know I said a lot, but it boils down to really wanting to learn more (and soon before these trees have been dead too long to be safe to climb) and not knowing how to get the training. Ideas?
You won't want to know if its dead too long the hard way. May already be there.
Ash destablize quickly, from all I've read. Some companies/ municipalities have No Climbing rules due to this.

A 60' 4x4 genie lift MAY make 60-70' trees manageable.
 
#5
You won't want to know if its dead too long the hard way. May already be there.
Ash destablize quickly, from all I've read. Some companies/ municipalities have No Climbing rules due to this.

A 60' 4x4 genie lift MAY make 60-70' trees manageable.
Yes for some of the trees, but only a minority of them. Most are in locations where to get a lift to the tree would damage things of value. The power company should trim back/top the trees near the power lines, but that's the only help I'd get.
 
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