»Learning curve(+++*) Go with a guide, the way most people start, and you simply need to be comfortable with heights. For DIY canopy exploration, you’ll need solid rope skills.
*(+) = Low effort, low risk (+++++) = Get a lesson and life insurance
»Suitable trees have trunks that measure at least six inches in diameter.
» Look for candidates with the lowest branches no more than 35 feet off the ground (experts can double that). To lasso a branch, attach the rope to a throw bag and toss it over.
» Use ascenders (single rope) or a series of pre-tied knots (double rope) to climb to the first branch. Repeat.
»Conifers’ branches are more flexible than hardwoods; climb them at the trunk for greater security.
»Use a rope sleeve to protect the bark and branches from rope burns ($25, newtribe.com).
»Check the base; deep cavities weaken the tree and make climbing dangerous.
»Climb slowly to conquer fear. “Go up 10 feet, pause for a while to acclimate, then climb another 10 feet,” says Patty Jenkins, co-owner of Tree Climbers International (TCI), an instructional school and climbers’ club.
»Check restrictions: Tree-climbing is prohibited in national parks, but allowed on USDA Forest Service lands.
»Watch Tree Climbing Basics ($20, treeclimbing.com).
»Georgia Tree Climbers International hosts climbs ($20) and teaches classes ($475, treeclimbing.com) in Atlanta.
»Oregon In Willamette National Forest, the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute (pacifictreeclimbing.com) offers guided climbs of 300-foot-tall Douglas firs and hammock-supported, tree-top overnights (climbs start at $200).