Adults Take Back the Adventure of Tree Climbing
OLATHE, Kan. — Adults aren’t often presented with a good excuse to go climb a tree. That activity is usually reserved (and enjoyed) by rambunctious 10-year-olds.
The organization, Tree Climbing Kansas City, offers people, ages eight and up, the opportunity to get off the ground and into the trees — using ropes and pulleys for added safety and adventure.
“My philosophy in life is I want everyone to have a better time than I’m having, and I’m having a pretty good time,” said Dan House, branch manager of Tree Climbing Kansas City.
House, along with Becki Petersen and Stan Stalnaker, help teach first-time climbers the ropes — literally. They’re dedicated to making recreational tree climbing an educational adventure.
“You can relax with yourself in a high spot and be completely invisible to the world, or you can come up with your best friend or people you’ve never met before and they’re instantly your best friend,” House said.
First-time climbers need not be intimidated.
“It’s safe,” House said. “We’ve got you tied in so you can’t fall out unless you undo something you’re not supposed to.”
For those who experience the dizzying effects of high places, House said he can help them overcome their fears.
“People with a fear of heights find themselves when they’re secured from a rope and can’t fall, that altitude doesn’t bother them because they can’t go anywhere because they’re tied to the tree,” he said.
First-time climber Mike McDanield proved to be a testament to House’s claims. Suspended nearly 50 feet off the ground, McDanield, an experience cyclist, admitted to being nervous. But after trusting the equipment, McDanield turned feet over head in an upside down bat hang — a favorite move for Tree Climbing Kansas City.
“It takes a lot of effort,” he said. “It’s kind of what I’m out here for — a little bit of exercise, have a little fun.”
While Becki Petersen admits tree climbing uses every muscle in your body, she says it boosts a person’s self-esteem — especially kids.
“It instills confidence in them,” she said. “It gives them the opportunity to unplug from their electronic games and get outside and spend time in the tree.”
Related: Pictures from a Tree Top View
And sometimes there are fun little surprises that scurry along the branches.
“Sometimes the squirrels will jump into the tree and come running up the branch and look at us like, ‘What are you doing up here? I’ve never seen a human up here!’”
It’s the unique perspective of nature that Petersen enjoys. She said she tries to climb quietly so she doesn’t disturb the animals.
“This is their territory,” she said. “We do no harm and leave no trace.”
Call them “tree huggers” and House, Petersen and Stalkaker will laugh. And then they’ll admit that, yes, they do love trees — and teaching others to respect them is part of their mission.
Another love for House are special-needs kids. House enjoys helping children with disabilities experience the joy of climbing a tree — something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do without the innovative measures House has taken. He’s created a hammock swing (and a trampoline swing) that can safely hoist a person into the air and into the branches.
“I really love the look on people’s faces when they’re up in top of the tree in a fork just lounging about,” he said.
If interested in lounging about the fork of a tree or would like more information about locations, costs and classes, visit Tree Climbing Kansas City.