GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Professionals in the tree care industry, more commonly known as “tree-trimming,” are sharpening their skills in Gulf Shores. Alabama Urban Forestry Association members wrapped up their annual conference in Baldwin County with a tree climbing competition.
Before you can glide from branch to branch, in the wide canopy of this live oak tree, competitors spend several minutes on the ground getting their safety lines ready. The two I watched each spent about a third of their 25 minutes of competition time on the ground. Once in the air–that’s when the adrenaline gets pumping.
“Feels good. That’s about the only time my brain ever shuts off,” said a sweaty Lane Anderson who just finished his 25-minute tree trial. While they may look alone up there–through the whole process they call out each step to the ground crew below.
“I love the competitive nature, but as well as that, I love the camaraderie unlike know any other sport. It’s an independent sport. But yeah, us climbers come out here as a team and we help each other,” said Anderson. When you work in high, cramped spaces like a tree, they say it’s important to be safe and efficient.
“Very labor-intensive job. It’s we work in all types of weather. Inclement weather, hot. It’s very physically demanding,” said Nathan Taylor with Taylor Tree Service. Each competitor tries to reach four bells tied to different limbs in less than 30 minutes while performing a certain task. It’s a way to sharpen skills.
“It’s a very unregulated industry, the tree industry is. And these training events help up-and-coming people to do things a better way,” said Josh Rutherford with West Alabama Arboriculture. This weekend started with more than a dozen people completing in different tree-care tasks. The top five all went through a 25-minute course on the same tree on Sunday. Justin Cantrall was the winner.