TCI has an impeccable safety record. No climber has ever been injured during one of our classes or events. Why? Because we "practice what we preach." Our rules come from years of experience, and we insist that our instructors and students follow them.
We want everyone to enjoy safe tree climbing, and we want the trees being climbed to be protected as well. Trees and the creatures which live in them are fragile living things. Please treat them with admiration and respect, not as obstacles to be overcome! If you observe these simple rules of tree climbing, neither you nor the tree will get hurt.
Always stay on rope. This is the most important rule for tree climbers. Unforeseen circumstances, such as sudden high winds or an attack from a protective wildlife parent, make it imperative that you always be connected to your rope. Don't be the climber whose thinking, "It won't happen to me" is proven wrong.
Never climb near power lines. If you or your rope touches a live power line, you can get electrocuted! Do an area-wide survey to make sure there are no power lines near your climbing tree.
Inspect the tree before you climb. Do a good inspection of any tree you want to climb. Our article, "A Climber's Guide to Tree Inspection," is an excellent resource for how to accomplish a thorough evaluation. Obviously, if the tree has obvious danger signs, don't climb it. Also, do not climb a tree that shows any signs of wear or weakness. Do that tree a favor. Get some help so you can restore it to health. Ask a certified arborist for suggestions and/or assistance.
Get training from a qualified instructor. Climbing by trial and error is risky business. One mistake can radically change or end a life. Take a tree climbing course from a qualified instructor. Then use TCI's online Forums and "Climber Finder" to hook up with experienced climbers who can answer your questions and help you along. It's best for beginning climbers to go out with a buddy who has solid training and experience.
Always wear a helmet to protect yourself from falling branches and other objects. Helmets must be worn by everyone on, under, or near the tree regardless of their climbing experience.
Never use leg spikes. Never use leg spikes or gaffs like those used by pole climbers. The punctures they leave can open up a tree to attack by fungus, bacteria, viruses, and insects that often carry harmful diseases. In some cases these punctures can lead to a tree's death. Puncture wounds also create unsightly scars that take away from a tree's natural beauty. Leg spikes should be used only on dead trees, which you, the recreational climber, should not be climbing!
Protect the trees you climb -- use a cambium saver. Particularly on thin barked trees such as beech, eucalyptus, sycamore, or plane trees, the moving rope will cut into the tender inner bark layers, create damage and then kill the branch. The best way to protect trees during climbing is to use cambium savers.
Be careful when climbing old growth trees. If you are climbing wilderness old growth trees that host moss mats or other plant communities growing on branches, be careful! A thoughtless boot swipe could dislodge a plant community that took hundreds of years to develop.
Be careful when trimming dead branches. Trimming dead branches is acceptable only if you can distinguish which branches are really dead! Make sure other climbers and people on the ground are out of the way as dead branches are thrown from the tree. Don't let the large pieces you cut bounce against green branches, which can be broken or damaged by the impact. Keep trimming of green branches to a minimum. Make proper cuts on all pruning. Be careful with hand saws, which are always dangerous no matter the experience of the cutter..
Avoid trampling ground cover as you prepare to climb. You could be damaging fragile, if not rare, ground plants. Create a distinct path for approach to regularly climbed trees. You can use mulch or crushed rock around high trafficked trees to avoid soil compaction and root damage.
Stay away from nests and nesting animals. You can get attacked if you get too close. Remember, you are a visitor to their world! Never take wild animals as pets. Invariably they will either die or be miserable in your care.