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Showing 'em the ropes

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A regional competition that draws tree climbers from up and down the West Coast was a chance Thursday for locals to learn the latest tips and tools of the trade.

Suspended in a hip harness at the base of a tree, trainer Doug Tripp of Grants Pass practically glided up a rope during an aerial rescue training event at TouVelle State Recreation Site hosted by Crux Climbing, Rigging and Training.

Tripp touted the merits of different aluminum pulleys and ratchets connected to the ropes on which arborists’ lives depend, highlighting as examples a foot-mounted cam that allows the rope to move only in the upward direction, and a Petzl rig, a self-braking descender that holds his place on the way up and prevents steep drops on the way down.

“It’s a very controlled, safe way to respond,” Tripp said.

Tripp was part of a team of trainers with Crux, based in Portland, who were in town ahead of the Southern Oregon Regional Tree Climbing Competition coming to Lithia Park Saturday. The competition, sanctioned through the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Arboriculture, includes “beat-the-clock” tree-rescue competitions, speed climbs and rope ascents, among other arborist challenges.

Tripp performed well in the rescue portion of the ISA competition held last year in Medford, but Tripp, lead instructor Joe Mendez of Portland, and Crux President Jenna Smith all said the trainings held today and Friday at TouVelle were focused on going through the steps thoroughly.

“Safety is paramount, as opposed to speed,” Mendez said.

The idea is to prepare arborists with varied experience levels for a rescue should they ever encounter someone literally out on a limb.

“You want muscle memory to kick in,” Smith said. “You can panic if you don’t go into automatic.”

Mendez described rescues as a looming possibility for those who work in trees, describing heat exhaustion, insect bites or falling tree limbs as possible hazards.

“You practice hoping you’ll never have to do ‘em,” Mendez said.

Smith said the 17 people training Thursday for Construction Contractors and Landscape Contractors Board license continuing education credits was a smaller crowd than usual. She said walk-in openings are available for Friday’s $85 CE class on “Rigging for Removal.” See www.cruxcorporation.com for information.

“Work is kicking in around here,” Smith said.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

If you go

What: Southern Oregon Regional Tree Climbing Competition, sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture

When: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11

Where: Lithia Park, 150 Winburn Way, Ashland

Admission: Free for spectators

More info: pnwisa.org

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneJoe Mendez and Doug Tripp talk about base rigging a tree for climbing at Tou Velle State Park Thursday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune{ } Joe Mendez and Doug Tripp talk about base rigging a tree for climbing at TouVelle State Park Thursday.