The European Tree Climbing Championships took place in Thun, Switzerland, during the weekend of September 7-8, 2013. Above and beyond the competition itself, where the Swiss proved dominant, the ETCC provided an opportunity for arborists to meet and exchange views, as well as to for the general public to learn about this rather atypical profession.


An international competition: the Swiss came out in force!

ETCC 2013 © PETZL/ G. Oudot

The European Championships brought together the best tree climbers from the continent. Did the city of Thun inspire Swiss participants in some magical way? Either way, in a beautiful setting with majestic trees along the lakefront the Swiss outperformed everyone in the Masters’, in both the men’s and women’s categories!


Preliminary qualifiers

  • The throw line: testing the ability to throw, with extreme precision, a small sack attached to a thin rope through a forked branch high up in a tree, allowing the arborist to subsequently raise the climbing line.
  • Simulated work climb: moving throughout a tree from one workstation to another. Competitors are free to both choose the technique and the order in which they complete the tasks. Judges evaluate performance based on precision: limb tossing, lowering to the ground to an off-center target...
  • Footlocking: a traditional double rope ascension technique where arborists lock-off the rope using their feet.
  • Partner rescue: a rescue exercise where competitors must clear and evacuate a mannequin stuck in a tree after having fallen from a branch up high.
  • Speed climbing: competitors climb to the top of a tree as fast as possible.

ETCC 2013 - © PETZL/ G. Oudot



The Masters’ (or finals)

ETCC 2013 - PETZL/G. Oudot

ETCC 2013 - PETZL/G. Oudot


The lucky tree chosen for the Masters’ was a magnificent poplar located right on the lakefront. This event was the real deal, where each arborist had 25 minutes maximum to finish the course: first climbing into the tree, then moving from workstation to workstation completing each task, and finally retrieving and removing all the equipment used.

Course setters made sure that moving through the tree would not be easy, and competitors used a wide variety of techniques to resolve the challenges they faced. Each arborist had their own way of analyzing the course, choosing techniques based on setup time as well as their own personal preferences and work habits.

Such a broad range of techniques revealed the extremely high level of competence and technical skill of an increasing number of arborists, as well as their clear focus on putting safety and the tree first. On the ground judges watched closely and penalized anyone who strayed from the safety guidelines.

The winners will represent Europe at the next ISA (International Society of Arborists) World Championships. The next European Tree Climbing Championships are scheduled to take place in Poland in 2014.



Men’s final standings

1. TANNER Roger - Switzerland
2. TURNBULL Jon - United Kingdom
3. VERGOTE Peter - Belgium

 Women’s final standings

1. ERNI Anja - Switzerland
2. SCHEIDEGGER Simone - Switzerland
3. HEDGER Jo - United Kingdom



Encountering an atypical profession

In spite of the questionable weather, the general public came in droves to watch the event. With little understanding of the intricacies in tree work, the event provided the chance for spectators to learn more about such an atypical and little-known profession, and to even try out a few tree climbing techniques. Both kids and adults enjoyed the warm and friendly atmosphere.

ETCC 2013 - PETZL/G. Oudot



Petzl, event partner

ETCC 2013 - PETZL/G. Oudot

For Petzl, these competitions provide the chance to meet and talk with arborists; a great opportunity to learn about everyone’s personal experience with our products as well as to test our latest innovations.



View more about Petzl products for arborists



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