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Tree Climbers Go Out on a Limb in Green Lane Park
Written by Kelly Kalb Correspondent

Maria Tranguch, of Emmaus, with Bartlett Tree Experts, competes in the simulated aerial rescue competition at the Penn-Del Chapter of the International Society of the Arboriculture tree climbing competition held Saturday at Green Lane Park. Tranguch was one of two female competitors.

        Typically people tend to connect tree climbing to something a child does in their back yard. However, to arborists and experienced climbers, this is far from the only connection.

        Tree climbing experts and enthusiasts gathered at Green Lane Park Saturday, June 4 for the area's first ever climbing competition.

        The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is an organization that promotes the awareness of trees and their benefits through research and education. The group was founded in 1924, and since that time has gone international providing arborists with further education on the benefits of proper tree care.

        The Penn-Del Chapter of the ISA covers Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1960 with over 800 members. Of those members many work as commercial, consulting, municipal, and utility arborists; researchers and educators; horticulturists; and people interested in the care of trees and landscapes.

        According to Glenn Riggs Jr., chairman of the TCC (Tree Climbing Championship) Committee, competitions have been in the works since 1977 in the Philadelphia area, and 1985 in the Western part of the state.

        This year, the two were combined into one larger championship hosted by Green Lane Park.

        "Every year during Earth week our Penn-Del Chapter has an Arbor Day in various locations in Pennsylvania. Groups of companies get together and volunteer tree service to parks and schools. Green Lane Park is one of the locations that we volunteered services to for Arbor Day in April 2016," Riggs explained.

        Next year the competition will be held in the Pittsburgh area, he added.

        The reason for these competitions is not just for friendly comraderies but to educate others on the art of climbing and to share ideas and techniques.

        This particular competition brought 30 competitors from Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey with two being women.

        A panel of volunteer judges ranked each competitor in five preliminary events: work climb, belayed speed time, secured foot lock, throw line event (which had climbers reaching up to 60 feet), and a simulated aerial rescue. After scores are tallied, the four top competitors move into the championship round with the winner representing the Penn-Del Chapter in the International Tree Climbing Competition.

          Preliminary results revealed the first four leading competitors, all from Pennsylvania, as: first place, Daniel Lawton of Ottsville; second place, Christian Lindsay of Harleysville; third place, Derrick Martin of Lebanon; and fourth place, Jake Riggs of Wayne.

        The Master's Challenge at the end of the day pushed Derrick Martin of Lebanon to first place overall, thus moving on to the 2017 International Tree Climbing Championship and ultimately representing the Penn-Del Chapter of the ISA.

        The crowd that gathered to witness the competition was made up primarily of enthusiasts and supporters, whether owning their own tree companies or working for others.

        Mike Smith of Red Hill and owner of Evergreen Complete Tree Care, Green Lane, watched several of his friends compete in the day's events. "It was a well-organized event with a lot of comraderies between the competitors. It really didn't feel like a competition. There was a real sense of support from the judges and other tree companies there," Smith said.

        Smith enjoyed witnessing the work climb portion of the event as, he said, "It's related to what I do every day. Green Lane Park picked a beautiful white oak tree to use for this climb."

        The work climb allowed a competitor five minutes to safely advance through workstations within the tree they are climbing while on a rope and saddle.

        Competitor Christian Lindsay of Harleysville and co-owner of Lindsay Tree Removal took second place in the preliminary round and fourth overall.  He has been involved in competitions for the last 10 to 12 years.

        "The main reason for entering the competitions is not just for education but to try and use your skills to improve and move faster. It's a good motivator to do better and use new gear more efficiently. The comraderies between competitors and other people there is just fun," Lindsay said.

        He added that he'd like to encourage more people, not just "tree business people," to do more than just their job. "Because of these competitions I've become more efficient and more aware of safety. Sure I could just go to work every day and do just my job but competing isn't about winning, there's no million dollar check waiting for you, it's a way to better yourself and be more motivated."

        For more information on the ISA, visit their website at or the Penn-Del Chapter at





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