Dutch tree climbing champion: ‘experience is key’

Dutch champion tree climbing Harrie Verbeek from Waalre
Photo credit: Studio040

Climbing and scrambling and, above all, not looking down. For Harrie Verbeek from Waalre it is almost daily fare. As an arborist, he is the Dutch champion tree climber and is now going for the European title.

Verbeek not only had to – literally – climb a tree for it, but also show all kinds of skills, such as pruning branches and rescuing someone. So during the NK (Dutch championships), organised by the Kring Praktiserende Boomverzorgers (circle of practicing tree wardens) – Nederlandse afdeling van de International Society of Arboriculture (Dutch branch of the International Society of Arboriculture, ISA) – the participants were judged on various components. And the Waalre citizen showed himself the best of all his colleagues in this.

Giants in Tasmania

At Landgoed (estate) Eikenburg in Eindhoven, where Verbeek is regularly at work, he demonstrates how fast he can climb a tree. “Technique is at least as important as speed. And the higher you throw your line, the better the score. After all, that’s your starting position”. The trees at Eikenburg are just dwarfs by the way, compared to the giants Verbeek has conquered in, say, Tasmania. “One was 95 metres high”.


It’s certainly not a piece of cake, the Waalre arborist acknowledges, because you’re climbing into a living object. “It is experience mostly. If you’re just starting this, you have to get used to it. You’re in a tree, which moves and bends. And you’re at quite a height, so it has to become second nature. We are very conscious about what we do and through that you remove the risks for the most part”.

Verbeek will travel to Slovakia at the end of June, to participate in the European Championships. He would like to become European champion, because the winner gets to go to the World Championships in Atlanta, United States, next year.

Source: Studio040

Translated by: Bob

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