A tree surgeon from Abbeystead will be scaling heights in Ohio when he competes for the title of world champion at the International Tree Climbing Championships.
Michael Curwen, 28, a climbing arborist, trims trees for a living, but three years ago started competing on the tree clmbing circuit. He has won the title of UK champion once but is now hoping he has a shot at becoming world champion.
Michael, who studied at Myerscough College, said: “I thought I would give tree climbing competitively as a bit of fun. I’ve worked all over in places such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada. They climb to a really high standard over there.
“There are five preliminary events before you make it further. There is the work climb,. aerial rescue, speedclimb, ascent and throwline. It can be make or break and targets are set in the tree. “The more you do the more you relax and once you start the pressure is not too bad. “There is a time limit set on events from five and a half minutes to six minutes. The speed climb is the fastest one to the top. You do get used to it. “I don’t get scared usually, the highest tree I’ve climbed is 72 metres in New Zealand. I don’t think the UK has trees that big.”
Michael will be competing against more than 70 male and female arborists and tree climbers from 20 countries at the ITCC in Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio. He will be travelling out to the USA ready to compete on August 3. The competitors who score the highest in the preliminary events compete in the Masters’ Challenge championship round on Sunday, August 5 for the title of world champion. Michael, who has been climbing for 12 years, said:
“This will be my first time competing internationally but it should be a really good competition.” This will be the 42nd world championships.