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Chronicle of the UK & Ireland Climbing Competition Set’17

When I saw that the Organization of the UK & Ireland Championship was looking for volunteers, I just wrote them to get involved and enjoy the experience. Social networks have their negative aspects but are a tool that facilitates things that years ago would be unthinkable.

I was in contact with John Trechard and the AA (Arboricultural Association) , my request was very well received and I began to receive information of the event like schedules, rules, accommodation, etc …Great organization by my point of view, and this when you come from a foreign country gives tranquility.

The Trip

The journey was long but full of beautiful scenes.

I started the trip leaving from the T-4 Madrid, very early. I expected several hours of travel combining plane and train.

After getting on the last train in time to Exeter I was able to be relaxed and enjoy the green landscapes, the changing weather with its lights and scenes, Britain!

I started to feel “goosebumps” with the amazings trees in the way to the Uni.

At last I was at the University of Exeter, I just needed to be able to drop the luggage and go to the organization before the meeting of judges and volunteers.

The place was perfect for a Championship.

Judges and volunteers gave everything!

Set up for the limb walking.

I meet John T., head judge, and then I meet the people involved as judges and volunters.

From there, between showers and clearings, we would pause until the equipment check.

After a good shower and food, I was ready to ‘introduce myself in society’. It’s quite an experience to see people that you know about Facebook. I met Jo Hedger, 2nd ITTC ’17. I was able to interview  her last year. As soon as we exchanged a few words I knew it was not the time to entertain a competitor.

It was great to find young competitors and skilled arborists together.

All the climbing stuff is revised accurately.

This man loves treeclimbing for sure!

Vans continued to arrive at the parking and competitors presented their material to the judges who meticulously evaluated each item and asked the competitor any questions about their use.

Visit other countries is good for know the way they climb and what stuff use.

At the end of the check we went to dinner to an authentic English Pub, for me at least. With a good pint and some food you have the ingredients to break the ice and get to know the people better.


An hour before the start of the Championship the organization, judges and volunteers had a meeting.

It was about organizing the work, preparing the tests and finishing details.

Team work was awesome. The Organization and volunteers made a good job.

The competition is almost ready to start!

Well done!

Competitors started coming…!

This edition introduced an important change in ISA Comp. The Footlock test has been replaced by an “Access” test. It tries to assess the safety, speed, efficiency and response of the participant.

The Access Event was very interesting so climbers show their access systems and thecniques.

3 times were taken:
1: Time to install the system and check it. The participant had to open his arms to mark the end.
2: Access time. From the ground up to a height of 19 m. The participant had to ring a bell upon reaching the top.
3: Once above the participant had to prepare his system for the descent. And then, they need to ring the bell to stop the time.

This test also valued the use of added safety measures: a fall arrest in a parallel rope, for example.
It was interesting to see the techniques chosen by the participants and their efficiency.

we were ready to belay the climbers!

My role as a volunteer was to support the development of the evidence. I was in the Access test and in the Fast Climb. I had a great welcome and the companions helped me feel part of the group.

Are you nervous? :D

The participants were distributed in groups that would make the different stations.

Organization mades the event very fluent.

The Throwline test was performed on a Pinus silvestris. The placement of the rope gave an extra score.

It always seems easiest than really is…

The Quick Climb was performed on a great Pinus nigra, I had the chance to climb to dismount the tapes and ropes. It was demanding! Some water please… hahaha. The views were excellent.

The dummy was ready, but a ‘siesta’ is always good.

The Rescue test simulated a case of chainsaw cutting. The victim was lanyard  on a branch, away from the trunk. The participant had to place an access rope and a work rope before the rescue.

A demonstration before the test helps to stay more relaxed…

.. or maybe not.

The Work Climb was in a amazing Cedar, it has multiple branches from the botton. It’s structure allow a beautiful challenge.

The Cedar is amazing!

Just a part of the Cedar. Thanks!

Throughout the day the participants performed the tests, at the end of the day they would give the results and especially the positions for the Master test.


Arriba, arriba! Tree people is always awesome, thanks to all for take care of me!

Rescue event!

Judge’s work is hard, thank you!

And, for sure, we receive the visit of the Tv Cameras.

Chris C. in front of the camera.




Due to the possibility of rain, the tests were advanced at 9:30 a.m.
The test was mounted on a spectacular cedar, the most complicated and essential was to place the rope as high as possible, because that, as we know, facilitates a lot of work.

John Trenchard explaning the event.

Speaking to a mate, I said: “The throwline is 50% of the work. He replied: – I would say that it is 80%!. Throwline was challenging in this tree.

There were 5 finalist:

  • Tadhg Leahy



  • Jo Hedger:




  • Graham Bird:




  • Boel Hammarstrand


  • Michael Curwen




Climbers showed great skills: ability, strength, planning, etc. And an amazing high level.

The system most used was SRT with Rope Wrench, although some decided to combine it with DRT.

I was fascinated by the style of Tagh, he remember me the style of a good mate.

I liked how Jo Hedger planed her chance and how she solved it.

I liked it very much the plan of Graham B. He took advantage of the Twin Rope of Art.

From Boel I admired the way she managed the situation. She tried and decide different options until the end, very skilled.

Michael did a great participation, very fluent, technical and talkative. He decided to add friction with a figure 8 in his RW setup! Good detail.

Once the trials were over, everything was in the hands of the judges. Even having the scores obtained was difficult to define the positions because all participants were high level and despite having different styles turned out to be very efficient.

The assistants did not lose any detail.

We also got the visit of the Tv and they toke good videos for sure.


During the day of the Master I was fortunate to be invited to try out the new harnesses of Simarghu from the hands of its creators Craig & Sybil.

– It’s not about invent the wheel, Craig told me. To which I replied: – But if to bring improvements, and you have done that.

Craig and me. I get some good tips from him, gracias!

Read Simarghu post.

The harness “Fire” is light at the same time as robust, the possibility of adjusting it and even being able to choose where to place the bridge in its rings “D” seems to me an improvement that surely many manufacturers will take into account when developing harnesses.
In addition, the female version ” Gemini” is great improvement to the industry because girls often have to be adapted to the harness and not the other way around.

Craig was wearing these lovely T-shirt!

This is the first time in 20 years that the Arboricultural Association, (AA), an Associate Organisation to the International Society of Arboriculture, have organised this event, and they really did well, with everyone well catered for and all events fully staffed with volunteers from within the industry.  Much credit should be given to all those who worked so hard to pull this one off with a very limited time frame to work to! – Simarghu post.

I was also able to talk with Francital. I like their articles and I use them in the day to day. The technology SoFly can make light safety pants. Good clothes thought for the arborist. I want to thank them for their presence.

The awards ceremony was held in a University Hall. There began the preparations “The 51st National Amenity Conference 2017”.


And that is one of the reasons because the championship is organized in Setember. It makes easy the organization and allows to integrate both events.

It also can be great to the Finalist that want to go to the ETTC in order that they can train focusing in the European Champ. and maybe can help to finalist to save some money for traveling to Paris’18 ETTC.

More TV!!!



When I went in and saw the prizes on the table, my mouth was watered. There were prizes from Teufelberger, FTC, arboriculture books like K.Mattheck books, etc… Awesome!!!

I will like to thank the sponsors their effort:  FTC, Francital, Honey Brothers, Husqvarna, Sawpod, Lyon, Arb Association. 


Everyone had their moment of recognition.

It was a party and was very nice to be able to see the participants and their loved ones and friends gathered. Good atmosphere.

Masters winner’s

  1. Michael Curwen.
  2. Graham Bird.
  3. Tadhg Leahy.
  4. Josephine Hedger.
  5. Boel Hammarstrand.

 More info.

Winner’s of the UK & Ireland CC ’17. Josephine Hedger and Michael Curwen.

The feeling I took is similar to a any championship I’ve been in Spain. A championship is the perfect excuse to bring together people from the industry who often can not stay together during the year. A weekend party  that is possible thanks to the effort and dedication of the Organization, Sponsors and above all the participants. And… don’t forget Trees!

I am convinced that I will do my best to attend the next one, surely encourage me to participate and enjoy climbing amazing trees. And you?

Thank you!!!


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