Tokyo Climbing Up with Tree Climbing Hitting as the Latest Sports Craze
Tree Climbing as a sport arrives in Tokyo
They are everywhere – clambering up, swaying from a branch, or just hanging. Waving at the viewers below. Boys and girls, young or err no so young. Everybody trying their hands, and legs, at tree climbing as this latest craze hits Tokyo.
Gone are the days when one would scan the neighborhood trees for ripe fruits on the way to school. And launch assault on the way back. Cuts and bruises were part of the game. The odd broken limb was when things didn’t work to plan. That was it, simple pleasures of simple times.
But times changed. Sophistication has changed the approach if not the urge. Apparently tree climbing is still fun. Lots of fun. Provided you are part of a registered organization with necessary safety gear and licenses to operate. It’s a recognized sport.
This Tree climbing as a sport evolved first in the Wild West. There is a Wikipedia entry as well. It kinda says tree climbing evolved even before there was internet! Back in the nineteen hundred and eighties!
But it has gained popularity recently. Now there is an international governing body – Tree Climbers Internal Inc. (TCI) With branches in USA Canada UK Australia Malaysia China Japan Indonesia etc. Global Organization of Tree Climbers (GOTC) is mandated with the task of framing standards and certifying local bodies. After all it involves all the nitty gritties of mountain climbing, with climbing-harnesses, carabiners, and an assorted bunch of ropes being tools of the trade. One needs to learn various knots frequently used is mountaineering such as Munter Hitch, Prussic Knots and others such. Helmet, gloves and eye protection glasses are also needed, in case you wondered.
What is it really like
It’s really not that difficult after all. At least that is what one felt having attended one such climbing session recently held in Tokyo. Kids lined up grouped into batches for a two hour session each. In this session they were introduced to the techniques of how to climb up, and belay down, with the assortment of ropes and knots already set up for them by the organizers Tree Climbing Japan.
OK let’s take a close look. The rule book requires one to first find a tree with sturdy branches. Then Get under one branch that does not have leaves obstructing the way up. Aim high and fling a rope long enough to coil around the branch and come hanging down. Pull it tight. Fix one end of the rope with a weight. And attach a carabiner at the other end. Take a smaller rope, fix one end to the same carabiner and another end to the longer rope knotted in such a way that it can move up or down. This is the cord that will help you get up or down. Move the knot up, it pulls you up.
Knots and hitches
Here the trick is in how you tie this knot. It’s called a Prusic knot. When slack it can be moved up or down sliding on the main rope. But if there’s a pull then it tightly clutches the rope. When you fix the carabiner to your harness, and push the Prusic knot up, you are basically hanging down from this knot. If this were not gripping the main rope tightly enough you would slide down. So the better is the knot, the safer you are. To be extra safe climbers tie additional knots on the main rope that can work as a break in case somehow the Prusic knot fails to hold. These breaks are tied at intervals as the climber goes up. And untied with a pull on the way back down.
To push up you use a cord as foot board. It one smaller cord that is tied a little below the Prusic knot. This also is a Prusic knot, a smaller one that can slide up or down the main rope. It is tied together at the two ends so that it forms a loop. This is the foot rest. Climber pushes on the foot rest to go up. Then loosens the main knot and pushes that up. It is the next stop where the climbers weight will hold it tight. Next the climber pulls the foot rest up, pushes it down with his foot. This rope works as a ladder for him. He steps on it to lift himself up. Then again he moves the main knot once more upwards. And follows this motion to climb up all the way to the branch.
If interested to know more about Knots and hitches see these nice sites below.
Where to try
In Tokyo this sport is only just gaining popularity. Mainly organized by Tree Climbing Japan. Loop up their webpage for next event nearby. Be warned, there is a heavy rush so unless you are quick it gets filled up fast.
Notes. All pictures taken during the recent event held in Kameido. These are not officially endorsed, neither Couchflyer has any connection with Tree Climbing Japan. Written as a freelance blogpost on happenings in Tokyo.
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