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Maybe the trees were shorter where I grew up & when I was a kid, but we never seemed to need carabiners, ropes with Prussik knots, "false sleeves" or any of that other stuff we later discovered useful in MOUNTAIN climbing to climb a tree with a reasonable degree of "safety". OK, there WERE accidents, but, of course, there are NONE with these high-tech, paranoic techniques predicated on a 21st century fixation on safety?
I also lived several years in Papua New Guinea, where the "technique" of climbing coconut trees without any "spurs" except those that naturally occur on your feet was normal. A bit difficult to learn if you grew up climbing maples and oaks, but I never saw or heard of a casualty.
Some experiences in life can be made so "secure" that they are no longer "experiences".
John-Jacques seems to have so reduced tree climbing to such a technicality.
And the French claim thet the Americans have no "soul".
I also climbed many a tree as a kid, just as you did. But did you really climbed on top of trees 20 or 30m high? You sure? And did you spend some two or three hours in the same tree gathering fruits and seeds? Having to use both hands to pick them? I tell you what, here on Reunion we grow many litchi trees and every year some young strong supples nice gentlement climb to pick the ripe litchis and EVERY YEAR my friend in the emergency staff of the hospital sees some of those youngsters brought in with broken spine or crushed skill. This is the kind of "experience" you should try just once, you may change your mind then. Or you may also experiment not using your car's security belt...
And I am not a strong supple young man, I am 50 and have this job to do and I want to do it for a long time.
I guess I read your article from the point of view of an ordinary person, not a professional, repetitive labourer, and it seems I am not the only person to have made that "error".
20 meters is about 63 feet American, and, oh, yeah, I'm SURE I've been up that high, at least once to "rescue" a misguided child and the cat he thought he was trying to save (He wouldn't let me help him down before I got the cat, who kept on climbing as I got near"). Whoops! The only gear I had were my hands and feet.
In my 4 years in PNG (and, not to get into meaningless competition with French Reunion, the coconut palm trees there are as high as your litchis), we treated a lot of stonefish poison from the reef divers, but not a single "broken spine or crushed skill" from limbing and harvesting coconuts. Maybe it was a good 4 years, or maybe the Reunion climbers need to forget the tackle and learn to climb from the PNG climbers!
Thanks for the suggestion of driving without a seatbelt, Since I am 60, and have driven since I was 18, and have never in all that time had a collision accident, the parallel is irrelevant. Like most people, I wear the belt because the law requires it.
Outside of professional "arborism", I still think your precautions and equipment make little sense and, if taken too deeply to heart, would indeed reduce the normal experience of tree climbing to a technicality, additionally enveloping us all in the cocoon of "security" that the modern world embraces.
I don't buy it.
But, I guess that carabiners, Prussik knots, "false sleeves" and other gear designed for climbing ice covered, inaccessible peaks are just part of the price one pays for living in paradise. N'est c'est pas?
I clearly understand your point of view but you just mix two things; climbing for fun or to get something quick and then back to the ground and climbing for working, ie spending several hours up in a tree and needing both hands to work and do it for days on. This is simply 'experience' (nice when you have the time) versus work where you have pressure. I simply cannot see how you can perform the task of walking on a limb which could not mechanicaly take your weight and doing so without the help of your hands but maybe I am too clumsy.
People who get broken spines here do not fall from coconut trees but from lichee trees, the wood is very breakable and as they get paid by the weight they always want to harvest more and faster.
For my part I certainly do not use a seatbelt because of the law but because I do not want to get smashed which to me makes much more sense, just like I used to wea an helmet when riding a motorbike while many people prefer to experience the wind on thier face.
And I also use protective gloves and garments when I use a chainsaw, just like all my colleagues and there still are some accidents, rather gore experiences to say the least and once you've lost a limb you look at 'security coccon' very differently.
I enjoy free climbing certain trees to like 30 or 40 feet. If they are more sturdy than a ladder, and I can maintain 3 points of contact, I consider the tree safer than the ladder.
But gear has it's purpose.
At least in our area, trees can get slippery bark, and sometimes there is slick algae. A wrong climb at the wrong time of year can be a bad experience is a foot slips and there is no safety attachment. Dry season is a different deal.
But the climbing with climbing gear, provides a good option for people if they want to reduce the risk due to inexperience or unseen hazards. Gear helps compensate for pieces of a tree that can smack someone in the head and take them off guard or off balance. Even a branch whipping in the face can be a hazardous distraction at times.
Liked the article jjacques ...
By the way, you might get amusement from a page I just posted online a couple of weeks ago.
I completely agree with your article, studying a living biotope wherever it is and whoever conducts the study will impact it. I spend a lot of time in the wild, either on the ground or up on a limb, harvesting seeds and always try to keep the lowest impact possible but returning to the same places year after year I can spot the scars and broken pieces. Anyway I am afraid that I soon as we enter a place we modify it, I often walk and climb barefoot but even if this avoids bruising bark with shoe soles it stills affects it.
The article just focused on presenting gear and technique used to allow people to work safely and efficiently in trees, I cannot imagine how even the best and most experienced New-Guinean climbers could reach the top of a giant redwood just using feet and hands...
All the best