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Women's Tree Climbing Workshop

With more than 50 years of combined tree climbing experience, twin sisters Melissa LeVangie Ingersoll and Bear LeVangie are committed to empowering women through climbing trees.

May 17 2022

Tree care

Fewer than 5 percent of tree climbers are women. This statistic is shocking, but almost irrelevant after attending the Women’s Tree Climbers Workshop, WTCW, in Wimberley, TX. The life-changing impact that founders, Bear and Melissa have on each of the attendees — more than 1,000 in two years — can’t be flattened to a percentage. If you identify as a woman, and you’re interested in arboriculture, start with this workshop. Period. 

                                                                  Co-founder, Bear LeVangie, using the AIRLINE cord to set an anchor. 

WTCW was founded by twin sisters, Melissa LeVangie Ingersoll and Bear LeVangie. Additional support throughout the workshop was provided by lead instructor Rebecca Seibel and local arborists and former WTCW students. The two and a half day workshop covered foundational skills, but with the opportunity and flexibility to learn advanced skills for those with prior experience. More than twenty kits were available to try on, including a range of harnesses, hitch climber pulleys, eye to eye hitch cords, carabiners and helmets. 

                                                                                                           Kits for attendees 

As a non-tree climber before the workshop, I was expecting to feel like a fish out of water. But, to my surprise, I didn’t. One woman attended from the Austin Fire Department, another person from the city of Austin as an armchair arborist, and another woman in her sixties who owned a tree care company. All of whom had never climbed. Climbing was primarily focused on rope-on-rope methods like the Blake’s, Knut and Michoacan hitches. Dozens of different rope types were available to understand rope stretch and marrying. It was incredible to witness new climbers make and set their own system and hip thrust up the big, beautiful live oaks; and then sigh relief as they transitioned to the helpful knee and foot ascenders.

I can’t stress enough the importance of what WTCW represents and provides. Not only is the root system of female climbers expanding across the country, but individuals are empowered to act with confidence, power and diligence. At the conclusion of our “summer camp oasis” there were hugs, tears and a palpable revitalization of self amongst the group. Women teaching women a traditionally male trade is empowering and a breath of fresh air, figuratively and literally. Do yourself a favor and sign up for their next course.

                                                                                                           Balancing act

All photos by Jon Vickers