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Ruth Maendel will compete at the International Tree Climbing Championship in Ohio this weekend

Ruth Maendel will put her tree climbing skills to the test this week at the International Tree Climbing Championships in Ohio. (Janice Moeller/CBC )

If you’ve seen a woman climbing the tallest branches of Winnipeg’s elms lately, it may have been Ruth Maendel, training for her first international tree climbing competition.

That training has included scaling the large tree in her own front yard.

“I usually get an audience when I do that,” said Maendel, who is an arborist by day for the City of Winnipeg.

By night, she also climbs trees for fun.

Maendel out practising for the competition. (Janice Moeller/CBC )

A few years ago, she got involved with the Prairie chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture — a non-profit organization that works to promote awareness of the benefits of trees — and started competing in the tree climbing competitions the society manages.

This year, she came out on top in her chapter, and is competing in the society’s International Tree Climbing Championship in Ohio this weekend.

The competition involves a variety of tasks, including a mock rescue and a work climb, in which competitors have to demonstrate they can navigate a tree in a safe, controlled manner, she said.

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The trees Maendel climbs when she competes are usually between 15 to 24 metres high.

Though it can be scary to be that high off the ground, it’s also very freeing, she said.

“It’s really fun to be up there. You see squirrels, you see what they’ve left in little spots on the tree,” she said.

“You find little berries every once and a while and you can tell they left them there.”

Maendel climbing a tree while on the job as an arborist for the City of Winnipeg. (Submitted by Ruth Maendel)

It’s also a mental challenge to figure out how to approach the climb, she said.

“Every tree is different, so that makes it fresh and exciting every time.”

American elms are Maendel’s favourite to climb.

“They’re so beautiful and open and they’re really strong. You can trust them to hold you,” she said.

The International Tree Climbing Championship takes place from Aug. 3 to 5 in Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio.

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