Tree Time

Ten years ago, "Ponderosa" Harv Teitelbaum caught a segment on CBS Sunday Morning that would change his life. The piece highlighted Peter Jenkins, an Atlanta-based arborist, climbing giant redwoods in California, showing off the new sport he had invented: recreational tree climbing.

"I was working for the Colorado Division of Wildlife at the time," Teitelbaum remembers. "And I just thought, 'Wow, this combines everything that I love: the outdoors, climbing, the excitement and adventure of discovering something new.' And it was something I had never seen before. I knew I had to try it."

So he got in touch with Jenkins the next day, then traveled to Atlanta, where he trained in Jenkins's grove — a recreational tree climbing community — and earned his basic certification to teach others the new sport.

"It's not industrial recreation; it's not a thrill sport," explains Teitelbaum before carefully emphasizing the safety of recreational tree climbing and how climbers are always attached to ropes. "We just do it because we love being up in trees. We love the activity of it, the challenge of it, but we're focused on being in the tree, experiencing the forest from the top."

Teitelbaum has been teaching novices how to get their tree on for nearly ten years now, and he's looking forward to showing a whole new crop of tree-gawkers how to do it, beginning today at the sixth annual Recreational Tree Climbing Rendezvous at the Cal-Wood Center in Jamestown, Colorado. A truly international event, the Rendezvous, which runs through the weekend, will gather recreational climbers, arborists, tree lovers and enthusiasts from around the globe to get all up in those ponderosas, aspens and cottonwoods. A mere $320 buys accommodations, meals and all the recreational climbing you can handle. For those with less time to spend, shorter courses are available through or at 303-526-2904.

"It's a great way for people to develop a lifetime skill that you can do anywhere in the world," Teitelbaum concludes. Anywhere, that is, besides the tundra.
Aug. 29-Sept. 3

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Adam Cayton-Holland