Do Earth Day right — Climb a giant Volunteer Park tree

Above the world thanks to Her Majesty (Image: Canopy Climbers)

Above the world thanks to Her Majesty (Image: Canopy Climbers)

Nothing says Earth Day like scaling a 110-foot tall tree to commune with nature. This Sunday, April 21st, Canopy Climbers will be strapping willing eco-adventurers into harnesses and sending them on the slow ascent up a massive red oak in Volunteer Park.

“It’s a very quiet, very peaceful place to be,” said Dave Bayard, founder of Canopy Climbers. “Once you get up there, you’re pretty much in your own little realm. Nobody ever looks up, so if you pull your dangling rope up when you’re in the tree, nobody will ever even see you.”

Screen shot 2013-04-17 at 2.27.44 PMBayard, an aborist with 12 years of experience, started Canopy Climbers with his wife Trina as a way to share the unique experience of recreational tree climbing with the public. “It’s different than being up in a tall building or on a ladder—it’s a different vibe because your interacting with another living being,” Bayard said. “Not to get all metaphysical and weird, but they are alive. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. They are giant jungle gyms.”

[mappress mapid=”39″]Climbers age 6 and up are welcome to the event on Earth Day. Bayard will be facilitating 30-45 minute excursions up a tree, with climbers securely strapped into a rope and saddle system. The journey up is slow and steady—a pace suited for young climbers as well as those in their 60s.

The red oak in Volunteer Park Bayard will be rigging is known as “Her Majesty.” She looms over the fields by the 15th Ave entrance to the park. Bayard works with the Seattle Parks department on a tree by tree basis in order to get permission to climb. The city ensures that the equipment Bayard uses minimizes the amount of friction on the tree in order to preserve its bark and limbs. Special “friction savers” developed by Tree Climbers International are utilized to achieve this.

Here’s how Bayard and crew describes Her Majesty:

Her Majesty stands next to her twin Red Oak (Quercus rubra), watching over the fields at Volunteer Park. A massive, stout and powerful tree, she can handle as many as 6 climbers at once and still look graceful.

With the tips of her upper branches reaching over 110′ off the ground, it’s easy to feel small and exposed in her arms – especially after all her leaves have fallen. Despite her size, she’s an ideal tree for beginners. With multiple climbs available she offers a wide variety of experiences and a great opportunity to climb with friends and family.  Stay low and sit on her stout branches, or climb 60′ up and see the park from her persepctive.

Perfect for small and large groups, as well as personal climbs.

In addition to the safety of the tree, Bayard must demonstrate he can ensure the safety of the climbers. With aerial rescue training under his belt and a track record of zero accidents, climbers can ascend rest assured that they will come out unscathed.

Those interested in getting vertical on Earth Day are encouraged to head to www.canopyclimber.com where you can sign up via email or a phone call. Drop-ins are welcome as well, but only 5 people are allowed up in a tree at a time, so reserved spots are encouraged. It will cost you $20 to climb.

“It’s Earth Day,” Bayard said, “what other excuse do you need to go outside and climb a tree?”

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