For most people, tree climbing is seen as a fun childhood activity. Something trivial and easy, I mean, it’s a tree, not rocket science! How difficult can it possibly be right? Wrong. Climbing a tree is a lot harder than it looks like. You can get injured, lose your foothold, break a few bones and worst comes to worst, even die.
Now before you freak out and start making excuses to avoid the whole ordeal, just take a moment and read on. We present to you a step-by-step guide that would help you climb a tree like a ninja:
Why Should I Know How To Climb A Tree?
Imagine a scenario where you are lost in the woods and have nowhere to go. It is the knowledge of your surroundings and optimal utilization of the many natural resources around you that can save your life. In such a case, the ability to climb a tree is not just a recreational activity but a survival hack for adventurers and travelers camping out in the forests.
You can use the tree as a hide-out, as shelter, and also for hunting. Always carry some rope, a tree hammock, some linen and other tools in your bag when packing for a trek.
Wear Well-Fitting Clothes
Your clothes can be either be a hindrance or an aid when ascent up a tree. We recommend that you wear loose, comfortable clothes that allow free, unrestricted movement of your limbs. You don’t want to end up in an uncomfortable position, awkwardly twisting your legs and hands now do you?
So yeah, skinny jeans, skirts or any fancy attire is a strict no-no. However, if your clothes are very baggy they can get stuck in the branches and cause more harm than good. The best way out of this predicament would be to wear well-fitting but comfy clothes, flexible shoes (better if you are barefoot) and avoiding any accessory.
Choosing the Right Tree
Trees come in all shapes and sizes. You cannot possibly climb all of them in your first attempt. Therefore, it is important that you gauge the sturdiness of the tree before you hoist your weight up its branches. Find a tree that has a wide trunk (at least 6 inches in diameter), large strong branches, and minimum thorny edges. Avoid climbing trees that are not upright or have deep cracks, a forked top or peeling bark.
Check the Ground
Simply looking at the tree doesn’t guarantee a successful ascent. Inspecting the surrounding ground and the roots are equally important. Most often you can spot the subtle signs of decay and damage in the area around the roots. Avoid the tree if you spot mushrooms or fungal growth on or around the tree. Also, look out for dead branches, holes, severed roots and cracked soil- they are all signs of a dying tree that is not safe to climb.
Climbing the Tree
To start your ascent, first, find a sturdy foothold on the gnarl or grip the sides of the trunk with your thighs. Then try to grab the nearest branch and hoist yourself up. Hold on to the branch from underneath and then without loosening your grip on the trunk, try to support your weight as you climb up the tree. You can pull yourself up using your arms or if you have strong legs, you can swing them on either side of the branch and straddle it.
Once you are perched on the top of a solid branch, look around for a secure route to the next one. Try holding the branches that are closest to the trunk. Also, ensure that the branch you’re holding on to is thick and sturdy enough to support your weight. Avoid broken branches and dead tree stubs. Now, you can use a harness, throw line, static ropes, and cords to pull yourself up, but don’t worry if you don’t have any.
Just stay close to the trunk and keep your posture upright at all times. Hug the tree close for more stability, and test the strength of the branches by tugging at them before you shift your body weight onto it. If you are climbing without ropes, it is imperative that you gauge the maximum possible height that you can climb. Stop the ascent if you notice that the tree trunk has narrowed up to 4 inches or less.
Descending the Tree
Climbing up the tree is easy; descending it is a whole different story. You have to be extra careful during the descent as the gravity also plays a big part in pulling you down. It would be prudent if you are extra cautious and stick to the same path you used when climbing up. Avoid dead branches, dry twigs, narrow branches and weak junctures. It is best that you test the footholds by carefully balancing your weight around it before completely lowering yourself down on the branch.
Some Other Tips
Climbing a tree- up or down requires immense physical and mental strength. Here are some additional tips and precautionary measures that can help you avoid any untoward accident:
• Never climb a tree during thunderstorms or when a strong wind is blowing
• Ensure that the tree trunk is dry, wet trunk is slippery and cause you to lose your footing
• Never climb a tree if you spot a power line within 10 feet of its branches
• Always check the branches for beehives, ants, snakes, wasp colonies and other insects
• Climbing the tree barefoot is always a lot easier
The Bottom Line
As children, we were all fascinated by Tarzan and his jungle adventures, as adults we envied him. Oh to live in the tree-house and swing from place to place screaming your lungs out! There is something incredibly satisfying about climbing a tree. To touch its rugged trunk underneath your hands, feel the power of nature pulsating underneath your fingers. High up on the tree, surrounded by leaves and twigs, you are cut off from civilization and all its chaos.