Home | CanopyChatter | Articles | Guidelines | Resources | Who's Who | PDF Files | Contact Us
Today is:March 16, 2017
General Guidelines

Guidelines Specific to Tree Climbing USA

Tree Climbing USA subscribes to the document titled
“ Recommended Guidelines for Programmed Recreational Tree Climbs” with the following changes, additions, and/or deletions. The following guidelines are specific to Tree Climbing USA and apply to those climbs conducted by Tree Climbing USA that qualify as “program” climbs.

The Grove

· The grove is herein defined when climbing with others as a tree or stand of trees and surrounding area that has been inspected and cleared of all known hazards prior to climbing with guests, clients, or students. These precautions include deadwooding, removal of hanging branches or invasive plants such as poison ivy, and eliminating insects or nesting areas; thus creating a tame tree that can accommodate the tree climbing program that has been requested.

· The above inspection should be conducted by the grove staff prior to each climb with related work scheduled and completed when problems are indentified.

· An arborist should conduct a hazard survey of the grove prior to its coming online and every three years and/or after any storm where the trees/s may have sustained structural damage.

· Periodic work days are scheduled apart from facilitation or training to deal with the general maintenance of the grove. Tasks on those days might include remulching the area, use of herbicides on invasive plants, and basic trimming and pruning.

· A log of these practices is to be kept in the Grove Master’s Procedure, protocol, and Standards notebook and reflect work identified and work performed./ The notebook should be available to all staff and updated accordingly.


· Staff/Personnel are the individuals that have been assigned to a sanctioned climb and/or class. They will be identified as either a facilitator or an instructor qualified to lead the program being presented. They will have received adequate training in tree climbing techniques, rescue, rigging, and facilitation from an approved grove/school that teaches the facilitation course.

· Staff to climber ratios will be determined by facilitator standing; provisional status at 1 to 3, fully fledged at 1 to 6. An instructor per our insurance carrier indicates at a 1 to 10 ratio; however. we hold to the 1 to 6 ratios for open, event, or festival style climbs. For guided climbs as well as our Basic, Beyond the Basics, Adaptive, or Facilitator courses no greater than 1 to 3. If additional students are to be taught, additional instructors will be called upon to teach, keeping the ratio at no greater than 1 to 3.

· Facilitators/instructors are responsible for the setting up of the climb, collecting and being familiar with all paperwork for the climb, rigging the tree prior to climbers' arrival, checking the surrounding area for problems and correcting any found.

· Facilitators and/or instructors are to be knowledgeable about the equipment to be used during the climb (the what, when where and how) for the participants/clients, for personal use and for rescue.

·In addition to the climbing stations for the participants, there will be a centrally located rope in place in the event of an emergency. A facilitator or instructor needs to either be rigged and ready to climb or have equipment readily available should a situation present itself where an aerial rescue is required.

·Facilitators or instructors will be aware of the grove's protocol for rescue. They will have received instruction and follow-up practical/experiential training during their initial training and follow-up exercises/classes.

·Facilitators are trained initially to facilitate at a 1 to 3 ratio. As they complete their apprenticeship they can move to a 1 to 6 ratio. They may climb on their own as they wish. When facilitating other, this is done at an established grove in tame trees. A facilitator does not train others so they can leave and climb on their own. A facilitator is responsible only for himself and/or the other climbers/clients signed up for a group climb at a pre-approved tree.

·The facilitator and/or instructor is knowledgeable in, understands, and can communicate to the climbers/clients proper shout calls and other safety related communications.

·The facilitator must be at least 18 years of age, while an instructor must be 21 or older. They need to be of high moral character and be able to pass a police background check.

·Ground support or tree monitors can assist in a group climb but only under the direction and supervision of a facilitator or an instructor.

·Additional facilitator and/or instructor responsibilities:

-Obtain training from a qualified instructor prior to being placed or placing oneself in the position of being responsible for others who are or who are going to be tree climbing.

-Fulfill the requirements of the apprenticeship and/or internship they have agreed to. This is the next step after training.

-Attend and participate in yearly gatherings, conferences, outing related to tree climbing.

-Also obtain knowledge and new data by participating in a follow-up training on or near the anniversary of the facilitator's original training.

-Follow the protocols, procedures, and standards of the grove, not just in tree climbing, but also in accordance with the grove's business practices.


· All equipment used in “life-support” applications shall be equipment manufactured for the purpose of vertical rope-assisted climbing by reputable, well-known manufacturers and shall be used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

·All "life support" equipment used during a sanctioned group facilitated climb or an instructional class shall be property of TCUSA or pre-approved for use by TCUSA.

· The harness to be used shall be of the type manufactured by New Tribe, or when necessary, that type manufactured for use by commercial/professional arborists.

· Carabiners shall be of the locking variety, either aluminum or steel.

· Helmets manufactured for the purpose of climbing shall be utilized. Personal helmets can be used when pre-approved and when meeting CE or UIAA standards for climbing.

·Only ropes manufactured for the purpose of tree climbing, i.e. arborist rope, using DRT (Double Rope Technique) are to be used and must be inspected prior to and after every group climb or individual instruction.

·Chest harnesses and/or other climbing assisted equipment such as pulleys, split tails, cambium savers, and carabiners shall be used in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations and tree climbing practices.

·All climbing equipment used in the facilitation or instruction of TCUSA sanctioned climbs is to be periodically inspected for wear, serviceability and manufacturer's recommendations for retirement or replacement.

Conducting the climb

·Facilitating a climb or instructing a class shall be conducted in trees that are known to the facilitators or instructors. The tree or trees will be known to be tame and not wild. The former meaning cleaned, deadwooded, etc. and ready for sanctioned climbs. A wild tree is one that has not been readied for climbing and stands as is.

·All paperwork required for any climb will be filled out by climber or climber's parent/guardian and be collected and reviewed by facilitator or instructor prior to climb.

·Any and all health concerns need to be discussed prior to climber or student proceeding with climb.

·Sanctioned climbs with groups will be preceded by a class/orientation that will cover safety, communication, equipment, facilitator or instructor identification, spectator' or parents' or other non-climbers' responsibilities during climb, climber ascent and descent procedures.

·Climbers will be suited up by a facilitator or an instructor and checked again prior to climber's first or subsequent climbs.

· All knots will be tied by one facilitator or instructor for group climbs. Each sequence of knots will undergo being tied, dressed, seated, and bounce tested prior to climb.

·All branches used as anchors or rope placement will have been pre-checked and known to hold the weight of the facilitator or instructor prior to being climbed on by a client.

·Students taking a class will be responsible for tying their own knots and anchor selection while under the watchful eye and supervision of the instructor.

·Students who are enrolled in a class will load test each new transfer or switchover prior to coming off first setting to their second to assure the anchor strength and the functioning of the knot system.

· All group climbs will have at least one setting for the facilitator or instructor for rescue. This facilitator or instructor shall have equipment on or at the ready should a climber require aerial assistance.

·Parents/guardians, counselors, teachers, or other group leaders shall remain in the vicinity of the climb to aid in the climb when requested and under supervision.

·All sanctioned tree climbs will occur on rope. There will be no free climbing or off rope climbing at any time.

·All climbers/clients under the supervision of TCUSA staff will be connected to their climbing rope ONLY by a facilitator or instructor. This also applies at the conclusion of climb when climber is on the ground. Only then is the carabiner disconnected from the climbing rope and the climber's saddle.

·All climbers will be outfitted with harnesses/saddles and helmets that are of the appropriate size for the climber.

·All loose items are to be tethered to a climber prior to leaving the ground.

·Everyone within the drip line or the immediate climbing area will wear head protection, i.e. a helmet.

·Once a climber is "on rope" and off the ground, the ascent and descent procedures are restated, . and the climber is questioned by the facilitator or instructor to make sure procedures are understood prior to proceeding.

·Students in classes will be versed in the shout calls used during a tree climb and will practice them at appropriate times.

·As a student progresses over five feet off the ground or at any time conducting a switchover or transfer, the student will place a safety knot in their down rope.

·Climbers in group climbs will have safety knots placed in their down rope by the facilitator or instructor once they are 5 to 6 feet off the ground and again as they climb higher and previous safety knot is touching the ground.

·As climbing progresses it is the facilitator's and/or instructor's responsibility to maintain vigil and be aware of all aspects that can affect the climb. Such issues can include weather, personality issues, outside distractions, others present who wish to coach or tell a climber what to do or not to do without prior approval by facilitator or instructor.

·Group climbs require the climbers be hand belayed by a facilitator or instructor or an identified other only after the other has received proper instruction.

·All climbing gear shall be removed and placed with the other equipment as laid out prior to climb. Facilitators or instructors should check equipment prior to group's departure.

·Onlookers, bystanders, parents/guardians are not to interfere with facilitator's or instructors's efforts to conduct the climb regardless of their intentions.

·When possible, a group debriefing will be conducted at the conclusion of the climb.

·When all of the participants, climbers, clients have departed and the equipment has been checked and stored away and the tree has been given a last look, the staff will conduct a verbal debrief of the climb. An after action report should be filed outlining all pertinent data of the climb.

· All climbing shall be conducted with regard for the policy of Challenge By Choice.

Emergency action plan

·An Emergency Action Plan as practiced by TCUSA shall be available to its staff members to be understood and practiced by them should a situation arise where such a plan needs to be enacted.

A first aid kit will be available at all climbs.

For Tree Climbing USA the Emergency Action Plan shall be:

The lead facilitator shall take immediate charge.

This leader will assign tasks to others in the climbing area as needed..

Someone shall, if necessary, be dispatched immediately to call emergency services.

One facilitator shall be assigned to “crowd control”.

Climbers aloft will be directed as to what to do, stay put or descend with the aid of a belayer..

Dispatch someone to “guide” the emergency service personnel to the area.

If immediately necessary, a rescue shall be performed to bring the “victim” to the ground and first aid applied.

Victim shall be stabilized until emergency personnel arrive.

Follow up with forms, paperwork, and an after-action review.

· All instructors and facilitators will be aware of address and location of the climb in order to pass the information along to EMS personnel.

A cell phone shall be accessible to facilitators or instructors. First option call is to 911 Fayette County Marshals Office 770/461-5679 Fayette County Sheriff's Office 770/461-6353 Fayette County Recreation Department 770nl6-4321

· All instructors and facilitators will be aware of location of nearest EMS facility

· All instructors and facilitators administering a programmed climb shall have First Aid/CPR certification via Red Cross or appropriate agency.

· All instructors and facilitators shall have received instruction in rescue techniques applicable for the type of climb to be administered and be familiar with all rescue gear provided at the climbing site.

· An appropriate-sized first aid kit shall be available at every climb. The first aid kit will be inspected and re-stocked following all climbs.

Post-climb procedures

· De-rigging the tree shall be performed by facilitator personnel

· All gear shall be inspected for damage before being stored.

· An after-action review, or debriefing, shall occur in which all issues concerning the climb shall be discussed.

· Accident report forms and after-action report forms shall be filled out after the climb as needed.

Adaptive climbs

In addition to the recommendations above:

· Facilitators shall have received training in adaptive climbing systems from a recognized trainer or training entity.

· Medical personnel familiar with the climbers' conditions and needs shall be present, when deemed necessary and based upon climber’s physical condition., to oversee the climb and to make recommendations concerning connections between climbers and the support system.

· Adult climbers, willing to accept responsibility for themselves and having signed documents to that effect, shall be permitted to climb without presence of medical personnel, pending approval of lead facilitator.

· The lead facilitator shall have the authority to refuse service to any climber when deemed necessary in situations involving adaptive climbing and adaptive climbing systems.

Back to Guidelines


Thank You for visiting treeclimbercoalition.org
©2017 Tree Climber's Coalition. All Rights Reserved.