Manahawkin's Rory MacInnis an Extreme Tree Climbing Champ

Jun 28, 2012

Professional arborist Rory MacInnis, a licensed tree expert and owner of the Manahawkin-based Pine Barrens Tree care company, earned the title of 2012 ISA New Jersey State Tree Climbing Champion earlier this month, at the competition held at Rutgers University.

“The competition was, as always, a great time and great opportunity to catch up with other tree guys in the state,” MacInnis said.

He competed with 31 other climbers in five events: work climb, throw line, speed climb, footlock and aerial rescue. The top climbers from the preliminary round (MacInnis placed second) participate in the Master’s Challenge, which puts them in a massive tree and calls upon them to use the combined skills in the aforementioned events. The winner goes on to compete in the international competition, to be held in Portland, Ore., Aug. 9 to 15, which matches up the best climbers in the world.

“I’m extremely excited and looking forward to watching these amazing climbers,” he said.

One of the highlights was having the chance to compete in the Master’s Challenge, a feature added to the New Jersey event only in the last two years, with his former boss and tree climbing mentor Mark Chisholm, a 19-year consecutive state champion and three-time world champion.

MacInnis outlined the five different events that make up the first round. The 50-foot footlock rope climb uses feet on the rope to climb as quickly as possible. The work climb simulates everyday tree work and targets specific areas to reach throughout the tree. The 50-foot speed climb uses hands and feet on the tree to scramble up as fast as possible. The aerial rescue simulates the rescue of an injured climber from a tree. And the throw line involves tossing a line into a specific part of the tree in order to set the climbing rope.

For MacInnis, the experience of the competition was equal parts exhilaration and camaraderie.

“When climbing the rope into a big tree, I start to get real excited thinking about the challenge of climbing around in it and getting out on the ends of the limbs,” he said. “Once I get up high and tied into the tree, I feel very focused. Being up high brings together years of experience to make the climb smooth and energy efficient.

“My favorite aspect of competing is not even competing; it’s seeing all the other hardworking arborists from all over the state.”  —V.L.

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