Most people start out climbing trees as children, using the branches like rungs of a ladder to help them ascend as high as they wish. Of course this opens us up to great risk of falling and also limits us to climbing smaller trees.
The Recreational Tree Climbing experience we offer is quite different from that! We use rope and harness to help us ascend into tall trees, suspend us at height, and allow us a controlled descent back to the ground.
Recreational Tree Climbing is also referred to as Technical or Professional Tree Climbing. This type of tree climbing utilizes specialized equipment and techniques to ascend into trees, providing the climber with the safety of rope and harness in order to reduce the risks associated with climbing trees as well as minimizing our impact to the trees being climbed.
Technical Tree Climbing is used by:
Arborists who perform tree work like pruning and removals.
Scientists who research a wide variety topics related to ecosystems, forests and the environment.
Educators who run experiential and adventure education programs.
Therapists for the calming benefits, connection to nature, and personal insights it provides to their clients.
Conservationists and Naturalists climb to study and raise awareness for trees, forests, wildlife, and the environment.
Recreational Tree Climbers climb for some of the same reasons as well as for exploration, exhilaration, exercise, fun, and a deeper connection with trees, forests and themselves.
Why do we climb trees? (1:08)
As children, our sense of adventure took us into the woods and up trees in search of adventure, discovery, and often times to simply escape to a quiet place.
Our facilitated tree climbing experiences enable inexperienced climbers to enjoy this unique and rewarding outdoor activity. Our trained and skilled climbing adventure guides provide all of the equipment, instruction, and support you need to enjoy your time above the ground.
Once you are in your harness and clipped on rope, you are free to ascend at your own pace and as high as you'd like.
IS IT LIKE ROCK CLIMBING?
Not exactly. With rock climbing, the goal is to climb a wall or rock face to the top without falling. Should you fall, the safety harness and rope are there to catch you. With tree climbing, you are suspended by the rope and harness at all times once you leave the ground. You ascend and descend using the rope, which gives you the security of being at the heights you are comfortable with. The rope & climbing system gives you control and allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view! When you decide it is time to go down, a facilitator will assist as you lower yourself in a controlled fashion to the ground.
WHAT IF I HAVE A FEAR OF HEIGHTS?
The fear of heights is a common fear people have, and many us have a fear of falling. Each climber faces their own challenges. You can approach your fears at a pace you are comfortable with. Often times we find that people are able to successfully challenge their fear of heights given the sense of security provided by the climbing system. The climbing experience is not just about climbing high since adventure begins the moment your feet leave the ground. Our climbing guides do not force you to do anything you are not comfortable with. We are there to provide encouragement, answer questions, and help support you through your challenges.
WHAT KIND OF CLIMBING EXPERIENCE DO I NEED? WILL I BE ABLE TO DO IT?
Climbers do not need special skills or previous experience when climbing at our facilitated tree climbing events. Climbers are given easy to follow instructions and individual attention. Your climbing ability will develop and improve rather quickly. A basic level of fitness is required, but perseverance and determination can overcome most obstacles as technique is more important than brute strength. Most everyone can do it!
IS THERE A WEIGHT LIMIT? HEIGHT RESTRICTION?
While our climbing systems and equipment can accommodate climbers weighing up to 500 pounds, the primary restriction is based on waist size. Climbers must be able to fit into our harnesses and helmets. Our harnesses fit waist sizes roughly between 19" to 45" (measured around the belly button). Participant height is not a factor. All climbers must fit into our climbing equipment and allow it to be fastened properly in order to climb.
IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT?
Yes, our climbing experience is appropriate for ages 7 years and older. The ability of a climber to understand the technical climbing system and safety processes is most influenced by their stage of cognitive development rather than size, age, or physical ability. Note that some climb events and offerings may be further limited to an older minimum age & some events have an upper age limit.
IS IT SAFE?
There are risks associated with climbing trees, which is why we use professional equipment approved for use in technical tree climbing AND follow the guidelines set forth by the Global Organization of Tree Climbing (GOTC). These guidelines and the climbing systems we use are designed to minimize the associated risks of injury to both climbers and trees. Professional companies and climbers around the world follow these guidelines; in doing so, no serious injuries have been reported in the nearly 40 years that RTC has been an organized activity.
CAN ADULTS CLIMB TOO?
Absolutely! Adults love tree climbing as much as kids! Since we tend to become more cautious as we get older, you will find that climbing with rope and saddle instills the sense of security that may have been lacking when you climbed as a child! Taking up tree climbing as a hobby opens a whole new world! Not only do we offer Adult Climbs, you can also join us at Open & Open-Advanced Climbs (and many of our Rec Climbs). If you end up loving it as much as we do, then be sure to check out our Beginning Tree Climbing class.
DO I NEED TO RENT OR BRING MY OWN GEAR?
We provide ALL the climbing gear you need (helmet, harness, gloves, safety glasses). As a climber, you will want to bring a bottle of water and wear closed-toe, sturdy-soled shoes.
WHERE DO WE CLIMB?
We climb in parks and nature areas by permit. Most of our public climb offerings take place in southeast Wisconsin (in and around Waukesha & Milwaukee Counties), Dane County, and the Fox Cities areas. We can also climb on your property if you have a special tree you'd like to connect with!
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Weather-appropriate clothing that you'd be comfortable hiking in. Dress in layers as body temperature rises during climbing. We generally recommend sturdy-soled shoes like hiking boots, long pants to protect skin from scrapes against bark, raincoat or jacket if weather warrants. Hats can be worn under the helmet if they are thin enough and not attached to your shirt/jacket.
DOES IT HURT THE TREE?
We take a number of precautions in order to keep our impact to a minimum. For instance, we utilize protective sleeves to keep the rope from causing undue injury to the tree. Any pruning necessary to prepare the tree for a climb is overseen by a Certified Arborist to ensure the health of the tree is not compromised. Typically, the primary injury a tree sustains will come from participants who try to grab branches and twigs, which is why we ask climbers to refrain from such activities.
WILL I LEARN HOW TO CLIMB MY OWN TREES?
NO. The intent behind our Facilitated Climbs is to provide a controlled environment where participants can experience recreational tree climbing. Climbing under facilitation allows participants to climb without the need to understand all of the intricacies involved with technical tree climbing, tree health, and climber safety. These climbs do not present nor cover any of the information, knowledge, or skills necessary to climb trees on your own. Climbing on your own is dangerous and involves greater risk, therefore specialized training is necessary. People interested in learning how to climb trees on their own as a recreational hobby or for their career can enroll in one of our Tree Climbing Courses.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS? (and other weather related issues)
Light rain and snow by themselves are not necessarily a safety issue or cause for cancellation. Our staff will make a judgement call, taking into consideration intensity of expected precipitation, air temperature, and the ground conditions beneath the tree. Severe weather presents safety concerns for climbers and staff; therefore, Treetop Explorer, LLC reserves the right to cancel a climb due to weather forecasts or current weather conditions. Read more details about our weather cancellation policy.
see for yourself:
Climbers pick up the easy-to-follow instructions quickly!
The technique utilizes leg power rather than upper body strength!
Safety knots are fun to tie and give climbers peace of mind.
Climbers return to the ground when they are ready. Even descending is fun!