Tree Climbing

I think tree climbing will never become a big thing in the west. It will remain something only few people are interested in. If you ask me for a reason, I would say, that we are going down a different path; the path of quantification. What is quantifiable is getting attention, what cannot be put into numbers gets put aside. What is important in western eyes is shaped by numbers. 2 is more than 1. The quantifiability of weight training is also what makes it so popular.

Trees climbing is hard to quantify. Nature does not want to create uniformity but the unique. As every tree is different from the other, it becomes hard to compare climbs. Yes, some climbs are harder than others, but every quantification and comparison of different climbs or techniques feels a bit like holding a soap bubble in our hands.

For me, tree climbing has never been about anything to quantify, never about thinking, but about feeling. Trees are beings that have an enormous power and strength, become immensely old, grow slow, who resist cold, heat and storms. From all the living beings, trees seem to be one of the most constant. If you found a grown tree, it most likely will be there for the rest of your life. The mere fact that these beings are constantly growing taller and taller against gravity and towards the sun should leave us humans in awe. Through climbing trees, we are able to leave the safe ground of the earth for some time, entering the third dimension, coming closer to the clouds. The feeling of tree climbing was always a very calm one for me. Once your feet leave the ground, you reside above the things. You can relax for a moment, detached from the low fog of the everyday that is wafting over the earth. You became a guest of a being that is strongly rooted in the ground, but rising above the bustling about that happens beneath its leaves. The tree becomes refuge from the two dimensional. A place where big things become small again.

From my perspective, the approach to teaching in tree climbing must be a soft one.

Different from the teaching that happens in a room. There are many techniques, or due to the uniqueness of every part of every tree you could say technicalities, but the reason to learn them is to allow for a deeper conversation with the tree. From this perspective the techniques do not matter and from this perspective tree climbing can never become quantifiable. And with this approach, tree climbing will never become big or a trend. For the one that spends his time in rooms, it will always be something weird, useless and unnecessary. For some other people, it is a way to change perspective, to let go of the ground for a moment and to have a conversation with a being that provides us with the air that we breath.

I would like to recommend a book, that has provoked my thoughts recently. It became a bestseller in Germany and recently got translated into English:

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.
(DE: Das geheime Leben der Bäume)

Joseph Bartz