Yes we do. Check out this pdf


A professional arborist named Peter Jenkins wanted to share his love of trees and tree climbing with others. With his knowledge of rock climbing, he modified the equipment used in his work for recreational use and began telling the world about this new experience. In 1983, he founded the first private tree climbing school and, along with several of his climbing friends, started to set out basic best practices.

In 2007, a group of the most experienced Recreational Tree Climbing (RTC) facilitators and instructors assembled in Jamestown, CO, and laid out the framework for the Global Organization of Tree Climbers (GOTC), a US 501c3 nonprofit which has helped promote and publicize the practice of safe RTC worldwide. The GOTC website has best practice guidelines for facilitation and instruction, along with map/databases of facilitators, instructors, and climbers worldwide.


Edward Abbey used the term “industrial recreation” to define those uses of parks and wilderness that were consumptive and destructive to the very environment users claimed to be enjoying.  We could further characterize industrial recreation to be leisure or sport which focuses primarily on the individual maximizing his/her own personal experience.  You can see this in the attitude of many runners, mountain bikers, ATV’ers, and snowmobilers who speed along trails without regard for erosion, vegetation, wildlife effects, or other trail users.  Their activities are out of pace, scale, and phase with the environment that surrounds them. Compare this to the solitary hiker, who generally not only causes less impact, but more fully experiences the surrounding environment to which he or she is closely aligned through pace and attitude.  

The true recreational tree climber’s focus is not on maximizing his or her own thrill-seeking experience. The focus is on experiencing the tree and its environment. By valuing the tree-climber relationship above climber “sport”, recreational tree climbers naturally care about the living partner of their recreation. They shun invasive devices and techniques. They value the natural pace of their activity and how it aligns with the pace of the forest. They naturally become expert in tree care and safety.

In addition, many recreational tree climbers, especially those who facilitate or instruct professionally, have achieved a level of experience, education, training, and recognition that rivals that of many scientists and canopy researchers. Thus, the term “ ecreational” in tree climbing should not be confused to mean “casual” or “amateur,” but a serious recreating, or creating-again, within ourselves, personal renewal and joy.


Are you a nature center, parks & rec district, camp or similar org looking at the possibility of offering Recreational Tree Climbing (RTC) programs? View our YouTube slide show with voiceover presentation made just for you! It is designed to answer most of your initial questions so that you can see if RTC programs are right for you and your community. Check it out, and then contact us for next steps or additional questions. Thanks!


In over 35 years as an organized activity, and with more than 500,000 climbs conducted worldwide, we are not aware of any GOTC safety guidelines-following tree climber being seriously injured.  Prior to climbing, the tree’s setting, root system, bark, trunk, structure, and crown are appraised to assess overall health and appropriateness for climbing activity.  Lines are placed only over live limbs that are overly sufficient to support climbing activity.  Lines are weight-checked and bounce-tested prior to climbing.  Tree Climbing Colorado uses only ANSI-compliant Ness recreational tree climbing saddles and professional arborist rope, along with buckeled, Petzl Elios-class or similar helmets.  (Rock climbing saddles and rope do not meet our safety protocols, and are not used.)  All equipment is inspected before and after each climbing session.  Tree Climbing Colorado follows all GOTC safety standards and protocols for climbing events.  By using proper techniques and equipment, and by following all safety procedures, the risk of being off the ground is minimized.


Unlike some practices and techniques for ascending into trees, technical/recreational tree climbing is non-invasive and does not employ cleats or spurs.  Using the doubled rope technique (DdRT), the climbing rope slides over a limb or branch as the climber ascends and descends.  On all dynamic settings, Tree Climbing Colorado uses cambium-saving devices through which the ropes pass, further protecting the tree by minimizing contact between rope and limb.  As a result of the repeated examinations and continuing attention and maintenance given to the trees we climb, they tend to be healthier than other trees.  Respect for nature and for trees is an essential part of recreational technical/tree climbing.


Individuals do not need special athletic abilities or strength to participate in technical/recreational tree climbing.  What’s more, climbers usually find that their ability improves rapidly simply by becoming comfortable with the climbing process.  Experience and technique are more important than great strength in becoming an accomplished climber.  In addition, there are many assisting devices that reduce the amount of raw muscle power needed to comfortably enjoy tree climbing.

It must be stressed, however, that being in good physical condition is important before beginning any energetic sport such as tree climbing.  Physical exertion is involved, and any health problems or concerns should be addressed by a physician beforehand.


While we can’t predict how an individual will react to tree climbing, we’ve had very positive feedback from those who’ve told us they have a fear of heights.  We attribute this to several possible factors.  First, the climber is always secured to the line and has time to become comfortable with the system before gaining much height.  The climber’s position and movements, whether to go up, down, or stay in place, are always under the climber’s control.  Also, concentrating on the climbing technique focuses attention away from feelings of anxiety.  Last, the pace of motion is slower, more natural, human scaled, compared to the more unnatural pace of some fear-invoking situations.  There has even been talk of employing tree climbing as therapy for dealing with this fear.


No. At our public and private group climbing sessions, we show participants how to ascend and descend only. We do not cover essentials necessary to climb on one’s own, such as knots and knot tying, rope placement, equipment, etc. Instead, our participants tell us they gain a new-found respect and appreciation for trees and a desire to take part in future supervised sessions. Those few who do invest the time, money, and effort into taking the Basic Tree Climbing Course are instructed in wilderness, wildlife, and tree climbing ethics.


Not everyone thinks humans should be up in trees. Some feel our presence harms trees and disturbs wildlife, and that the canopy is one of the last remaining areas safe from human intrusion. 

This “hands-off” -nature attitude is a relatively recent aberration in the history of the primate-tree relationship.  During the Paleocene and Eocene eras, when forests were expanding across what is now North America, there were arboreal primates expanding their range along with them – ancient relatives of lemurs and tarsiers. The tree dwellers benefited by being safe from predators, while the trees received help in dispersing their seeds. Primates could climb to an abundant food supply in the canopy, while the trees were exercised and pruned of dead branches. We now know that trees respond to swaying much in the manner we respond to exercise, that is, by first developing micro-tears in tissue which heal stronger than before. Even the occasional damage to bark or limb can be beneficial. Those small disturbances stimulate the immune system, much as do the small cuts and bruises we receive growing up, helping to maintain future health. Trees have historically benefited from primate action, through the pruning of deadwood, the spreading of seed, the clearing of tree “dust” and “dandruff”, the occasional chunk of bark or small disturbance. 

The ancient forests grew, but the arboreal primates disappeared with a changing environment. Today, with the exception of birds, squirrels and a few other visitors knocking off bits of bark and other material as they scurry along, many of our trees are eerily silent and empty, perhaps even lonely?, compared to canopies in other parts of the world.   

Whether we like it or not, we have greatly affected and continue to affect all of earth’s ecosystems. Just as forests and arboreal primates co-evolved for millenia, areas we now label “natural” or “wilderness” are today dependent on a human presence or management for their sustainability and health, if not their very survival. Confusing neglect or avoidance with “natural” has too often resulted in unhealthy, densely-packed and fire-prone ecosystems. 

The nature-as-museum philosophy only serves to perpetuate the separation of humans from nature. We are neither solely it’s saviors nor it’s destroyers. Depriving ourselves and the natural world of our presence and touch, ever mindful of impacts, hurts us both and is ultimately self-defeating. 

When you climb up into a tree, you feel an almost immediate feeling of peace, of connecting with something timeless, deep-seated and right. More than a commodity, more than a resource, more than a place, trees are home. We belong in nature and in trees.