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Arborists Climb to New Heights at Lyndhurst

The tree climbing that took place at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown on Saturday isn’t your average kind.

Ropes and harnesses littered the tree branches, making it look like some rock climbers couldn’t find a mountain and decided to tackle a couple of trees. The arborists doing the climbing swung from branch to branch as fast as they could while those watching below shouted words of encouragement.

“If you didn’t do this fairly regularly, then you’d have a hard time doing it,” Joel Greifenberger said. Greifenberger is co-chair of the New York State Arborists ’ Tree Climbing Competition. He’s been organizing this event for 17 years.

Around 30 tree climbers took part in five pretrial competitions designed to simulate the work that arborists do on a daily basis, as well as emergency rescues. The finalists then competed for the big prize: a trip to Australia for the international tree climbing competition.

While everyone had their eye on the prize, Greifenberger said the competition was also “an opportunity for everybody to exchange different techniques, new equipment, and just share information.”

Four trees by the bowling alley at the back of the estate were drafted into the competition. Police tape cordoned off the trees so that no spectators were injured. Climbers tested their speed and agility during the events.

David Ware, the buildings and grounds manager at Lyndhurst, said this was the fourth year the tree climbing competition has been held there.  In addition to hosting the competition, the New York State arborists also donate $10,000 of free tree work to Lyndhurst.

“We have 67 acres and we rotate the spots every year,” Ware said. “Sometimes we’re at the front of the property, now it’s down here at the bowling alley.”

Different competitions require different trees, according to Ware.

“You need trees with branches spread apart so when they do the tree climb they can jump side to side,” he said. “And with the aerial drop, you want a straight tree, with no branches on the bottoms. Every competition needs a different tree, so that’s why with 67 acres, we kind of go around the property.”

Arborist Brian Carpenter, from Southbury, Connecticut, said Saturday’s competition was his first in New York, although he’s done it in other states. He described the events as “tough and physically demanding.”

Carpenter has been doing tree work for 20 years and says any training he does is through his job. He got involved in competitions after one was held in his hometown.

“There was a local competition in Southbury so I said, ‘Well, I have to go try it out,’” he said. “I learned a few new things and sort of rejuvenated my passion for climbing.”

Ware has noticed an increase in the number of people who come to watch the climbing competitions. Saturday’s event drew around 100 people who stopped by at different times.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” he said. “Everybody’s finding out about this whole event. It’s really cool.”

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