And you thought climbing trees was just for kids…
Think again. Owner of Wasatch Arborists and ISA Certified Arborist Ryan Torcicollo proves that scaling trees is more than just child’s play. This tree climbing champion is competitive on the world stage and thanks his day job for keeping him in top climbing shape.
For more on Ryan’s passion for trees and climbing, see the Park Record article below.
All Ryan Torcicollo has ever wanted to do is climb trees. The 28-year-old man from Samak said he started out rock climbing, but quickly discovered he had leafier aspirations.
Torcicollo became a certified arborist more than 10 years ago and began contract climbing with tree service companies in the area and across the county. He eventually took over ownership of the Great Western Timber Company, in Park City. He recently changed the name to Wasatch Arborists, Inc.
Several years ago while working with a tree service company in Colorado, Torcicollo was introduced to the world of competitive tree climbing and became hooked.
“It basically mirrors what you do on a day-to-day basis,” Torcicollo said.
This weekend, Torcicollo will join more than 60 of the world’s best tree climbers for the International Society of Arboriculture’s International Tree Climbing Championships in San Antonio, Texas. Torcicollo qualified for the event after winning the 22nd Annual Utah Tree Climbing Championships, in Ogden, in June.
Torcicollo said it wasn’t always a goal to compete on an international level. But he admits that it is something he “had envisioned all along.”
The competition begins on Saturday with participants competing in five different events in the hopes of qualifying for the Master’s Challenge on Sunday. Competitors are judged on their ability to perform work-related tasks while safely maneuvering in a tree. The five events are: Aerial Rescue, Work Climb, secured Footlock, Belayed Speed Climb and Throwline. The Master’s Challenge consists of one event where competitors are scored on technique and skill.
Torcicollo said competitors will climb a variety of trees during competitions, adding that some may be taller than 100 feet.
“It really depends on what park we are at,” Torcicollo said. “I had a buddy who went to Australia and he climbed trees that were more than 200 feet high.”
On Wednesday, as Torcicollo was preparing to leave for the competition the next day, he said he was “excited, but also a little nervous.”
“It’s a bummer living in Utah for practicing over the winter because some of these guys are coming from Australia,” he said. “It is summer there and I have been pushing snow all winter here. But, I just really want to have fun. It’s definitely a big event and will be a little nerve-wracking.
“I was just on a big two-week job in American Fork doing huge removals, which is kind of practice, but not exactly the kind of practicing I would want to be doing for this competition,” he said. “But it keeps me in shape.”
Torcicollo said tree climbing is an overall body workout. He said “you may do five events and are only climbing for maybe five minutes, but it’s exhausting.”
“It’s your entire body: your core, arms and legs,” he said.
Torcicollo said at the end of the day, he was “just looking forward to having a blast doing what I love.”
“Everyone is there just having fun, cheering each other on and it’s not super egotistical people who are rude to each other. It has a great atmosphere, everyone is into it and encouraging each other and it’s what I like to do,” Torcicollo said. “I like tree work because it doesn’t always feel like a job. I love what I do and it’s a fulfilling occupation. I can look back at a really hard tree that was stone dead over a house, that I removed, and there is not a mark anywhere. Or a huge tree I pruned. It’s beautiful and it brings a lot of satisfaction.”