On May 11, the CT Tree Protective Association held its 15th annual Connecticut Tree Climbing Competition. This year, the CTCC was held in College Woods, a section of East Rock Park in New Haven. 29 climbers – 26 men and 3 women – competed in the five preliminary events, from which the 6 Master Challengers – 3 men and 3 women – were selected. The male and female winner of the Master Challenge were then declared as Connecticut’s Tree Climbing Champions.
College Woods was an excellent venue for this competition, with the trees for each of the events tightly clustered so that one could essentially stand in one spot and keep track of each of the 5 preliminary events. Being that close to so many spirited climbers, who fed off of the applause of the audience and the cheers and advice of their fellow competition, generated a sense of enthusiasm that remained throughout the day.
The CTCC preliminary events are:
- Aerial Rescue
- Work Climb
- Speed Climb
- Ascent Event
That last event, the Ascent Event, has replaced the Footlock Event in both regional and international tree climbing competitions.
Rather than being a simple speed climb up a rope by footlocking, in the Ascent Event climbers may choose which type of mechanical ascender they might wish to use to assist them in the climb. They begin the competition with no gear attached to the climbing line and are timed, first on attaching themselves to the climbing line, then in
ascending to the top of the line and ringing a bell, and then in removing their gear from the climbing line so that they are ready to descend. It took a few competitors to work all of the bugs out, but before long both the competitors and the judges were racing through this event like a well-oiled machine, with the skill and athleticism of the climbers on full display.
The CTCC is always as much about safety and respect for trees and tree care as it is about the competition, with this year’s competition no different on this score. Because of its proximity to a residential neighborhood in New Haven, the competition drew in many spectators who just happened to be passing by and who were pleased and excited to learn about this event.
Although there are several people who participate in the preliminary rounds, the Master’s Challenge is limited to Connecticut residents, with the goal of recognizing and encouraging Connecticut climbers, both men and women. The three male Challengers selected based on their scores in the preliminary event were:
- Tim Reynolds
- Kyle Donaldson
- Russell Plumb
The three female Challengers were:
- Cassandra Bryant
- Kate Odell
- Hailey Bond
The Challengers each had 20 minutes to assess, enter and perform a series of tasks in a previously unseen tree, and then exit the tree and remove all equipment. This event requires tree climbing skills along with the ability to make good decisions and the ability to work both safely and quickly. Points can be deducted or a climber disqualified for unsafe techniques or damage done to the tree.
After a dramatic Master’s Challenge, Tim Reynolds was declared the Connecticut Men’s Champion, by 2 points over Kyle Donalson and less than 5 points over Russell Plumb. Hailey Bond was declared the Connecticut Women’s Champion, with Kate Odell in second place and Cassandra Bryant in third.
Congratulations to all who participated and thank yous to all who volunteered to help out, to all who donated equipment, to the City of New Haven and to all who made the competition possible.
Master’s Challenge Final Standings
- Tim Reynolds (249.00 points)
- Kyle Donaldson (247.00)
- Russell Plumb (244.33)
- Hailey Bond (79.67 points)
- Kate Odell (00.00 points)
- Cassandra Bryant (DQ)