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Stef's Blog - International Tree Climbing Champs 2017

Stef White's Adventures at the International Tree Climbing Championship 2017

Asplundh climber, Stef White has just started her adventure to competing in this years International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC) in Washington DC this July.  Go Stef!

Read Stef's regular updates here about her experiences in the competition build-up and in America as she takes on the world's best!

Click to follow the links to Stef's updates: 

Preparation & build-up to ITCC Competition:
* Week One
* Week Two
* Week Three
Week Four
Week Five  (one month to go!)
* Week Six - Getting Close!
* Week Seven - 1 Week to Go!
* I'm on a Plane!

Background:  What's the ITCC all about?

The ITCC is run by the ISA -

The ITCC background is explained below, or check out these this links for video explanations:

Where? Washington DC. When: July 27-30

Who? The national or continent competition winner from all around the world. NZ, Australia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Hawaii, USA ( has many as they have many states), Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, just to name a few countries competitors are from.

Why compete? To learn about trees, different species around the world have different characteristics. Are they fragile, do they smell, what climates do they live in.

Learn about ways to climb safety efficiently and using equipment suitable to do this. Personal safety –Harness, glasses, gloves, Clogger spider climbing pants, competition t- shirt, boots.

Hardware - Ropes, static, semi static, dynamic. 10mm, 11mm, 11.5mm,11.7mm,12mm. Double rope system, single rope techniques, Friction hitches – rope prussic, 10mm, 8mm. Mechanical, rope wrench, spider jack. Ascenders-hand, chest, foot. Neck tethers, chest harness. Lanyards – 3m, 4m, 5m, micro grabs. Tree protection, Cambium saver, rope guides, slings, throwline, throw bags, throw cubes.

What’s involved?

5 preliminary events,

Throw line, involving a thin line with a weight on the end, using a pendulum motion is swing into designated areas/ tree crotches marked in the tree, the higher the crotch the more points. Once the line is over, climber attaches a climbing rope and pull this thru to score more points. Max time is 6 mins.

Aerial Rescue, this emulates if one of your work colleagues was injured in the tree, emergency services need to be contacted and then how do you deal with the situation, including climbing up to bring them down. Has the climbing system been compromised and what can be down to get them down safely and quickly.

Belayed Speed Climb, get up that tree, fastest to the top wins. For every second the next fastest climber is they get a certain amount of points and so on until no points. Usually any more than 10seconds slower and you don’t get any points.

Footlock, double rope coming down 15m in height. Using our feet, lock off he rope to propel yourself up and slide your hands up gripping rope at the same time, fastest to the top wins. Points awarded depends on time.

Work Climb, starting at the top of the tree you have 5mins to complete this event. It again emulates working in a tree. This involves climbing out on branches swinging down to other branches. There is 4 stations, set up and they include, handsaw, pole saw, throwing a limb and keeping your weight off a branch, as you would not to damage a glass house or similar. Again 5min and smoothest, safest and fastest climber wins. This is often everyone favourite event and draws a good crowd, as it scores the most points the climbers who do well in this event often make the masters.


The masters, involves the best 3 female and best 5 male climbers who complete the preliminary events with the most points then go on to the masters challenge. The masters is the prestigious event where the climber may use skills from the preliminary events to complete a masters tree. This involves starting from scratch, throwing a line into the tree, installing a suitable safe roping point, or points, to access the tree safely and complete 4 stations, which have points allocated within a set time frame. It is the safest, smoothest and also fastest competitors who are then crowned world champions. Each competitor is seconded away so only those who have climbed may watch those who climb after them. The time frame can be anyway between 20-40 min depending on the tree. It may be mixed, male female, the order is decided from the preliminary events. The winner from the day before chooses when they would like to climb and down the line to the lowest climber having no choice.

If you are the last climber you could be waiting upwards of 4hrs -5 hrs before you climb. These climbers are not to speak with anyone so they do not know who has completed which stations, or who they need to out perform.


Stef ITCC cover image 2
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