4 women participated in the field of 20 competitors this year.
Tree climbers from across the province showed off their best limb-swinging and branch-grasping skills Saturday at what was dubbed the Stanley Cup for arborists.
The University of Fraser Valley Chilliwack campus played host to the B.C. Tree Climbing Championships where 20 people from across the province joined the competition.
Competitor Kali Alcorn, who has been an arborist for the last five years, says the job can be dangerous.
“It is [scary],” Alcorn said. “With a lot of other rope access industries, you’re climbing on rated anchors. We’re climbing with trees, they are biological, and there’s nothing known about them … to make it known what the risks are and how to identify those.”
In 2016, 43-year-old arborist Jody Taylor died from injuries sustained while trimming a branch in Connaught Park in Vancouver.
But that risk is part of her attraction to the job, Alcorn said.
“Every tree is different. Every scenario is different. Even if I climb a tree twice, the weather could be different,” she said.
“You never know what to expect. You have to think on the fly. It’s really challenging in a good way.”
Alcorn also represents a demographic shift in the industry. This year, she was one of four women competing.
“There’s not very many females in the industry but it’s getting better and we’re working hard to promote and encourage women to be more involved,” Alcorn said.
Naomi Larsen, 19, worked with arborists this summer and participated for the first time at the competition.
“I’ve always wanted to work outside just because I love the outdoors,” Larsen said. “It just seemed like a really good option and I wanted to get into wildfire fighting.”
Alcorn is happy to see young people coming into the profession.
“I try to educate as many young people as I can,” she said. “[I tell them] you know what I do? I climb trees for a living!”