Tuesday, 29 July 2008

ITCC results!

Here are the results for the ITCC from this past weekend. Just click on the attachments & it'll take you right there.


As you can see from the preliminary ranking both Jon & Philippa finished just a single place off of a place in the masters so this has been an ace year for UK climbers at international meetings.

Well done to you all.

Monday, 28 July 2008

International Tree Climbing Championships, St.Louis, Missouri

This past weekend in St. Louis ,Missouri the ISA have held their annual world tree climbing competition. Although it may be a little premature as I've not received 100% confirmation, the grape vine is saying that Jo Hedger of Arborventure Training near Southampton has taken the Womens World title from Chrissy Spence of New Zealand. Congratulations on your achievement Jo.

In the mens arena Beddes Strasser from Germany has added another belt to his collection, which I believe make him 8 times World champ. He was followed closely into 2nd spot by Scott Forrest representing the UK & I chapter. Well done to you also Scotty.

This is a fantastic achievement for both of the UK representatives who I'm sure are buzzing from the experience. I guess both climbers will pitch up at the final event of the UK calender with the Welsh Open TCC held on the last weekend of August in Newport, South Wales.

Best wishes folks

Monday, 7 July 2008

Congratulations to Jon Turnbull & Pilippa Allen on winning the European championships. They will be joined at ITCC by Jo Hedger & Scott Forrest who have survived the onslaught of the UK & I Chapter finals at Myerscough this past weekend. Good luck in St. Louis, Missouri at the end of the month.

Best wishes

A jolly weekend was had by all, by all accounts! A very well done to all.


Wow – what a weekend!

Four days in Turin, Italy, playing with a bunch of the premier tree climbers in Europe. The venue was the Valantino Park on the West bank of the Po River and organised by the Italian Society of Arboriculture (SIA). A fantastic park within 15 minutes walk of the city centre, containing hundreds of specimen trees including Pterocarya, Platanus, Magnolia, Ginkgo, Cedrus and many, many more.

Proceedings kicked off on Thursday morning with workshops presented by Mark Chisholm, who’d flown in from the USA for the occasion, Hubert Kowalewski from ART company in Germany. The afternoon was filled by Mark Bridge, Knut Foppe and Ben Healy of Tree Climbing Europe, followed by Malcolm Chaffer with an interesting presentation on ergonomics within tree climbing. During these workshops members of the SIA and European Organising Committee (EOC) were busy putting the final touches to the set up of the challenges that would face the climbers when competition preliminary rounds started on Saturday. A host of trade exhibiters were also present along with entertaining stalls from the Turin City Council explaining tree management within the city.

Friday offered time for climbers to organise their equipment, get it inspected and take a walk around the trees. All aspects of the disciplines were explained by EOC staff and queries settled where needed. A number of comments were passed regarding suitability of certain trees bearing in mind, everyday worksite realism/tasks should be the focus that drives set up of such an event, particularly the throwline and speed climb disciplines. The dust settled and the evening ambled on with an on-site bar, a coffee shop and with the city centre only minutes away fine Italian cuisine was the order of the day. Many guests and climbers chose to stay in hotels but for those who stayed at the nearby campsite, the sounds of urban nightlife filled the air. Intensely loud techno beats coming from both sides of the river shook the ground and a good nights sleep was a rare commodity.

Things were underway early on Saturday morning, cobwebs were soon brushed away and the frenetic toings and froings of climbers and spectators created a vibrant atmosphere truly fitting of the occasion. The usual smiles and frowns abounded as times were clocked, points were collated and locals looked on in awe at the skill of those within the trees. Children visiting the site had their own area, where under supervision they could explore the aerial world of tree climbing with grins of trepidation and excitement that mixed seamlessly with the anxious frowns of on-looking parents.

Sebastian Hoffman from German set a new European record of 13.69 seconds in the footlock event, (this is in fact a new world record but cannot be registered because only three timekeepers were present rather than the five that are needed for verification at world level.) Proceedings were stopped at one point when unexpectedly a full brass band arrived to entertain the crowds but verbal communication became impossible at the aerial rescue station. The final non-arboreal demo came from the local Shaolin Kung Fu school where approximately fifty students showed their martial skills, including open hand, sword and staff techniques.

Climbers gathered at the hospitality tent, after all the scores were tallied with great efficiency by hard working Sybil Johnson. Of the seven masters finalists the UK visitors were pleased to hear that three of them were of home grown talent. Who would be crowned European champs?

Rip Tomkins and Didge John were on site before 7am on Sunday to set an awesomely difficult task to be completed within the 25 minute deadline. The women started and both had difficulty positioning throwlines, but both accessed securely followed by a short pitch climb to set a viable anchor point. Sandra Albrecht of France managed one station, and Philippa Allen achieved two before timing out whilst still in the tree.

The men’s climb, although in the same tree, was four completely different targets. Even to an experienced eye, one could be forgiven for presuming that none of the five climbers would finish within 25 minutes. Without doubt this was the toughest masters climb I have seen in 8 years of ETCC visits. With temperatures in excess of 30 degrees it was going to be a great test on many levels. The first two climbers, Stuart Witt and Sebastian Hoffman, had differing problems within the canopy and didn’t manage to complete the climb. Roger Tanner from Switzerland followed by completing a near perfect climb, showing great poise and calm to flow his way to a possible win. Johan Gustavsson of Gothenberg, Sweden followed with a crisp climb fitting of such a pleasant, cheerful individual. All four targets achieved, out of the tree and gear retrieved within time. In the running or not?

With just one climber to go, my thoughts on positions were, RT, JG, and SH/SW split. Roger’s climb was so sweet that it was going to be necessary for John Turnbull to pull the rabbit from the hat to have any chance of first place. Many people know that he has the qualities but would he be able to pull it all together in this one climb? 25 minutes of sheer entertainment followed, quite comfortably the best ETCC masters climb I have witnessed. This was seconded by many people I spoke to, and possibly only bettered by Beddes Strasser’s ITCC win in Minneapolis in 2006. A truly inspiring climb. Although one can never count the chickens before they hatch, the sense of a UK double was really quite strong but not guaranteed.

Great thanks go out to all involved in the organisation of this event, having been involved myself I know that the amount of work required to set up and carry off such an event is tremendous. I, for one, am already making plans for a visit to Malmo, Sweden for the 2009 ETCC event.

Congratulations to John Turnbull and Philippa Allen on their achievement and good luck for your visit to ITCC in St Louis, Missouri.