2019 Illinois Tree Climbing Championship & Arbor Fair

Illinois Tree Climbing Championship &
1st Annual Arbor Fair

Saturday, September 28, 2019
Shiloh Park
1619 27th Street, Zion, IL

Climber Registration Form

ARBOR FAIR!  This year we’re hosting our 1st Arbor Fair at the competition.  If you’re interested in having a table or tent to display, sell and promote your company, CLICK HERE for the flyer and more information!  The cost is $100 per space.  Non-profits, free.

If you’d be interested in sponsoring our 2019 Competition, please CLICK HERE for more information.

Thank you to our Competition Sponsors!

Click Here for the 2019 Rule Book

2018 ITCC Winners
Mens Division:

1st Place Men’s Division – Beau Nagan
2nd Place Men’s Division – Jeremy Dunivan
3rd Place Men’s Division – Brandon Dobnick
Womens Division:
1st Place Women’s Division – Felicia Speranske

Illinois Tree Climbing Competition Event Descriptions

Tree climbing competitions simulate working conditions of arborists in the field. Male and female competitors perform five different events during preliminary rounds to qualify for the championship. Each event tests a competitor’s ability to professionally and safely maneuver in a tree while performing work-related tree-care tasks in a timely manner.

Work Climb Event

The Work Climb tests the contestant’s ability to move about the tree using a tree-climbing line and saddle/harness. The event setup is the same for both men and women contestants. Each contestant starts from a staging area in the tree and is required to visit five work stations throughout the tree, performing a specified task at each station. Each station in the tree is equipped with a bell (or horn); the contestant must ring the bell (or sound the horn) before continuing to the next station.

Contestants earn objective points for successfully completing the task at each station and ringing the bell (or sounding the horn) with either a handsaw, pole pruner, or hand, as indicated. At certain stations, a contestant can earn points for completing additional tasks. Contestants can also lose points for failing to properly complete certain tasks.

Contestants earn or lose subjective points based on safety, control, style, poise, and creativity at the discretion of the judges. Finally, a contestant can be penalized for unsafe or uncontrolled acts at the discretion of the head judge. A second unsafe or uncontrolled act could result in disqualification.

Contestants are allowed a predetermined time limit (men are provided 5 minutes, and women are provided 7 minutes) to complete the climb.

Throw Line Event

The Throw Lone is a timed event that tests the contestant’s ability to accurately place a throw line and/or climbing line in a tree at heights between approximately 10 and 20 meters 32.8 and 65.5 feet). Contestants attempt to toss a throw line or climbing line through two of eight targets. Targets can be located in a single tree, four on each side; or in multiple trees as long as there are two distinct sets of four targets. The targets are worth 10. 7. 5. and 3 points, respectively, depending on the difficulty of the throw. Each contestant is allowed unlimited throws within 6 minutes, but a contestant can score in only one target on each side of the tree.

The lines may be manipulated in the tree. This includes attaching more than one throw line or climbing line together to perform manipulation techniques. A throw is considered legal and scores only when the line (throwline or climbing line) is isolated within the target area and both ends of the line are touching the ground, with no other limbs in between the two parts of the line. (‘Touching the found’ includes both ends of the line touching the contestant who is standing on the ground.) Additional points may be earned for installing a climbing line through one target on each side of the tree. The climbing line must be pulled throughout the target with both ends of the rope touching the ground in order to score additional points. The value of these additional points depends on the difficulty of the throw. Installing a line in a 10-point throw is worth 5 additional points. Installing a line in a 7-point throw is worth 4 additional points, a 5 point throw – 3 points and a 3 point throw – 2 points.

Secured Footlock Event

The Secured Footlock Event measures the contestant’s ability to vertically ascend into a tree. Bootlicking is a commonly used technique to ascend into the tree. Many climbers will use the footlock to enter into the tree because it is much faster and less tiring than some other methods.

Belayed Speed Climb Event

The Speed Climb tests the contestant’s ability to climb a predetermined route from the ground to about 60 feet (18 meters) up a tree with a belayed climbing system for safety. The event is timed, and the contestant who reaches and rings the final bell of the course in the least amount of time wins. There could be more than one bell placed in the tree to determine the route; in such an event, the climber must ring all the bells in order to complete the event.

Aerial Rescue Event

The Aerial Rescue event is a timed event that tests the contestant’s ability to climb to and safely lower a climber who is unable to descend without assistance. This event setup is the same for men and women contestants.

Contestants must perform a risk assessment, a pre-climb assessment, and an onsite causality assessment, and should use all relevant techniques to ensure that the rescue process does not exacerbate the situation. The injured climber (dummy) should be lowered as safely, carefully, and efficiently as possible.

The contestant, as first responder, will assume control of the site, take control of all relevant safety issues, and will contact local emergency serves.

Master’s Challenge

The Master’s Challenge is the championship round of the competition. The top men and top women finishers from the preliminary round advance to the Masters’ Challenge to compete for the title. The Masters’ Challenge is designed to judge the contestants’ overall productivity and skill with a rope and saddle/harness in the tree. Contestants are judged and scored on their knowledge and their ability to demonstrate mastery of different climbing techniques, use of equipment, poise in the tree, and safe working practices.

At the event the head judge’s signal, “Go,” a contestant enters the designated work area. The contestant must perform a visual tree assessment, install any necessary climbing and/or belay equipment, and then enter the tree. The contestant proceeds to three or four work stations in the tree. In some situations, a fourth station may be added to increase the difficulty of the climb and provide additional opportunity for the judges to assess a contestant’s ability.

At each of the four stations, the contestant must ring a bell with a handsaw before continuing to the next station. One of the stations is equipped with a plumb bob suspended from the limb. If a contestant puts too much weight on the limb, causing the plumb bob to drop and activate a buzzer, no points are earned for completing the activity. A maximum time to complete the event is specified in advance. the climb is timed to assess overall productivity, but the Masters’ Challenge is not a speed event.


About Insurance Coverage: The Illinois Arborist Association provides insurance coverage through the ISA Climbers Event Policy. In the event of an accident, the ISA insurance policy provides $50,000 in excess medical benefit coverage. This is not intended to be used as a primary medical insurance policy for those participating in the competition. Any deductibles or co-pays you may incur from any other policies will not be covered under this policy. Coverage will only apply if the individual filing the claim has signed the required release form. As the coverage limit of the Climbers Event Policy may not be adequate if a major injury were to be sustained, ISA strongly recommends that you have personal medical or health insurance, or long/short term disability insurance through your employer, or a self-insured policy to cover your medical expenses in the event of an accident.
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