Climbing Trees

July 15, 2010 // Al Kavadlo

The urge to climb is one of our most primitive instincts and it need not be ignored. Tapping into your inner Tarzan can also be a great workout!

I recently got to go caveman at NYC’s famous Central Park for my first all-tree-climbing workout. It proved to be more challenging than I expected – but it was a lot of fun!

Not all trees are created equal. If you want to get in touch with your inner monkey, I recommend starting with an easy one.

What makes some trees easier to climb than others?

For starters, a tree that slopes on an angle will almost always be an easier climb than one which goes straight up. Look for a tree with lots of bumps, knobs and other places to grip. Thicker trees generally pose more of a challenge as well, so start with a relatively skinny one.

The technique for tree climbing is very similar to the technique used for rock climbing; you’ll want to use your legs as much as possible and keep your body close to the tree. Finding places where you can pause and catch your breath on the way up can be beneficial.

Just like rock climbers, serious tree climbers will utilize harnesses and other tools, but equipment-free climbing can be a challenging, (relatively) safe and effective workout as long as you recognize your limits. While I always encourage everyone to push their boundaries, use common sense and take responsibility for yourself.

When you em-“bark” on your tree climbing adventure, I recommend wearing comfortable clothing (but avoid garments that can easily tear). Trees can be rough and if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with ripped clothing in addition to the little cuts and scrapes that you are likely to get on your forearms and hands.

Have fun climbing, but remember not to go too high too soon. Getting down can sometimes be even trickier than getting up!