Professional Tree Climbing

Rockford arborist an international champion

October 15, 2009 // 0 Comments

by M. SOLLE Rockford has turned out its fair share of elite athletes over the years, and now we have one more to add to the list. He may have even been at your home before, but you didn’t even know it. Lucas Drews is an elite, internationally ranked professional tree climber. Not a sport, you say? It’s definitely not a “traditional” sport like football, track or baseball, but if you’ve ever seen a professional tree climber in their daily work, you would be convinced that not many could do an activity like that. It’s rough, it’s physical, it’s technically challenging, and it’s demanding. Being a tree climber takes precision and skill and is definitely not for the faint of heart. As a certified arborist for over 10 years and a competitive tree climber for over six years, Drews knows trees. He knows how to quickly get up one and quickly get down. In any given tree-climbing competition there are five different events: the throw-line, the secured foot lock, the work climb, the belayed speed climb, and the aerial rescue. Competitors are scored based on speed, accuracy, and safety/awareness. Judges are placed around the tree and up in the tree being used. At the end of all five stations, points are tallied and a winner is determined. In 2008, Drews competed in the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Southern Regional Tree Climbing Championship in Knoxville, Tenn. He completed the belayed speed climb (60 feet) in 28.877 seconds. He also finished the secured foot lock (49 feet 2.5 inches) in 19.657 seconds. Overall, he finished first and was ranked 12th in the world. What sets this sport apart from so many others is the way it integrates into a competition what tree climbers do on a daily basis. The events are actual methods and processes the participants use in their daily work, only done much more quickly and for bragging rights. There is rarely trash-talking or bad-mouthing, and more often than not there is a spirit of camaraderie, where fellow tree climbers root each other on and give advice. Bill Drews, Lucas Drews’ father, said it best, “These men are a brotherhood of elite athletes. They are all athletes in their own right. What we do […]