Going out on a limb in climbing display

Otago Polytechnic arboriculture student Melody Jansen makes her way to the top of a plane tree in...
Otago Polytechnic arboriculture student Melody Jansen makes her way to the top of a plane tree in the Octagon yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
People swinging about in the Octagon's plane trees is not a common lunchtime sight in Dunedin.

But, yesterday, three tree climbers gave a sneak preview of events to be held at the Otago regional tree climbing championships in Dunedin this weekend.

Otago Polytechnic arboriculture lecturer Sean Hancock, arboriculture student Melody Jansen and climbing contractor Andy Jack made their way up one of the Octagon's trees to give a demonstration of the work climb event, in which climbers use ropes to reach five different points on a tree.

It is one of five different events to be held at the competition on the Otago Museum Reserve on Saturday as part of the Rhododendron Festival.

Otago Polytechnic arboriculture lecturer and New Zealand Arboricultural Association executive member Jerry Lynch said the country's tree climbers were "incredibly competitive".

They frequently placed highly at international events and boasted two women's world champions and the women's world record holder.

"Saturday's competition is a great opportunity to witness the nimble athleticism of these competitors and get a taste for a quirky sport that is gathering popularity all over the world.

"The top five climbers from each event would qualify for the national championships in Auckland next month, he said.

Work climb: Climbers use ropes to climb to five different points on a tree.
Aerial rescue: Climbers rescue a dummy from the top of a tree.
Throw ball: A rope with a small sack of sand is thrown over a specified branch.
Footlock: Climbers race up a tree as fast as they can using rope to tie their feet together.
Speed climb: Climbers race up a tree using ropes and pulleys.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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