WC Tree climbing championships

Last weekend I flew to California to help in the setting up and judging of the Western Chapter Tree Climbing Championships.
It was in Fairmont Park. An incredibly beautiful park surrounding a lake. 80+ foot swamp cypress trees lined the waters edge with their big roots flowing into the water. Large palms, sycamores, eucalyptus and olive trees were everywhere, as well as many more that I was not familiar with.
The work climb was in a sycamore, starting position was at 65ft. The speed climb was in a swamp cypress, a branch scramble to 50+ ft. The Masters challenge was in a huge sycamore, with a hand saw station at 70ft.
There were 30 raring to go climbers. Everyone did great and lots of personal bests were had. New faces were popping up and kicking ass. Of all the climbers, Jared Arbojena captured the show. He won the Aerial rescue (I missed seeing that one). His footlock had a time of 11 sec flat! And his speed climb beat the second place time by almost 10 seconds!
In the final four Masters challengers (only the top four go on now), it was Jared Arbojena in first, with a high tech climb that was as smooth as silk. His dad Gary Arbojena (last years winner)coming in second was a passing of the torch. Jesse Bawcum came in third. Jesse also won the throwball, by setting a climbing line in a 68ft target and one in a 64ft target in just over 2 minutes. In fourth place was Randy Hopp. Randy competed a lot in the 80s, even winning the shiny buckle. He then turned cowboy and rode off into the sunset. Last year he came back and this year he came back again, and placed high in all the events. In the masters challenge he ran into some hard luck tring to set a line. On his 5th and last throw, his throwball bounced and fell into a low crotch. I felt sorry for him, thinking how hard it would be to ladder up the tree to a good tie in point at 70ft. I thought he would run out of time, seeing as he had already killed so much messing with throws that were not cooperating. He demonstrated what a great climber he is though. Part rock climber, part lasso thrower, he made short work of getting to the top. Once his line was set high, he flew through the stations and landed with over a minute to spare.

At the end of the day there were many cheers, and the smiles of climbers who challenged themselves and walked away with more than they came with, minus the blood left from blistered fingers.

Tree climbing competition is not like many other sports. It needs other people to set up the trees in order for the athletes to climb. A park with exceptional trees that may be off limits regularly is found and permission granted to climb. The trees are cleaned up and courses are designed and set up. The climbers come and study the routes from the ground. Like a prepositioned chess game, where one has to find checkmate in a certain number of moves, the climbers plan their moves. "If I drop down over that branch, I can get there, then I'll be able to swing to there, then I'll be at a good angle to get out there" etc... Then they get to execute their plan using their athletic skills.

My brother is a soul surfer, sometimes surfing a morning session before work at 7am. He is great, but never competes. Why should he? The waves are the same. He doesn't need to compete in order to ride the waves. TCC climbers need the competitions to get the full effect of climbing a well designed course.
Now that the sport is growing, and a womens competition has been added to the Internationals, I think more small groups of climbers will be getting together to set courses for each other, and work on trick moves. This should help both the industry and the trees because we need more climbers and people who love trees.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Robert Frost, 1916.

dan kraus


New Member
Hey Dan , good to hear from you. This is Greg Liu here. Sorry I missed you at this years WCISA competition. Sounds as though it was a bang up time in Riverside.Dont think I'll make it up to the PNW this year to give a little competition( ha ha ha ) to many things going on.I hope to be at the Internationals though, judging.I'll see you there if I am.



Well-Known Member
Austin, TX
Wow, that contest sounds a lot tougher than ours. My winning footlock time was over 19 seconds, and I won throwline with 14 points. Iguess we're coming along though; Kevin Bassett, perennial contest organizer, said a few years ago they couldn't find any contestants who could get to the bell at all (and this is the first TCC I've been to that didn't have multiple 20's in TL).

Dan brings up a good point about organizers, too. All the competitors have at least a theoretical chance to win prizes, but there are probably twice as many people putting in hours to make it happen who have to be satisfied with the less tangible benefits of the contest. If you're competing in one of these things, don't forget to thank the judges and organizers throughout the day.



Hey Jesse
I can't believe after all this time of no one posting results, we both post at the same time, on the same comp.
I sure liked helping out. I got the excitment of it without the stress. I may go to Vancouver next month to help with theirs.
Greg, I missed you. We needed you to give Jared some competition in the speed climb.
I'm tring to talk Robert Phillips into coming up to the PNW TCC. He wants to try new things in the Aerial Rescue but is afraid of being judged low by judges that don't realise his genius. In the PNW he's a nonresident so he can relax and try new things.
See you in Seattle.

See you in Seattle.


New Member
Antioch, CA
Hey Dan, I just read your April 16 posting about the WC TCC. It was great reading! Thanks so much. I just want to thank you so much for coming down to Riverside to help. It was great having you just being there too. I appreciate your mention of all of the work the volunteers, judges, etc. put in to make it happen. After many years of competition and organizing workshops, I know how much work it is to put on this event, and how it takes many people to make it successful, and I appreciate all they do. So from Jared and I, our Thanks, and Kudos to all who helped make it happen!
I know it was hard for you to just watch and not compete, but I know you had fun setting up that Master Challenge. You made it really challenging for me, the highest station nearly broke my back! ha ha ha. It reminded me of the day you and I climbed in Hawaii with Robert Phillips and Jared - and our tie-ins were flat-out to get out on the limb! I hope your leg is healing well and you'll be ready for the ITCC! See you in Seattle! Our hellos to Justina!

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