May 2006

by Tree Week Graduate Russ Tomlin

In May 2006 I had the pleasure of doing the Tree Week course. I was very lucky to share it with some dang fine folks. There were two other students and the instructor Tim Kovar. The small size made for a great learning environment, which I believe is essential to get the most out of a climbing course. Tim is a very polite (especially for an ex tree worker), generous and easygoing instructor who, as I witnessed, is able to teach people of various skill levels.


I was also privileged to share the course with a very experienced climber and employee of New Tribe, Viola Brumbaugh. Her technical questions regarding finer climbing points and gear made for excellent eavesdropping. Viola was a great source of info on harnesses and has already developed her own (New Tribe’s Vi Special).


Carolyn Temes came from British Columbia, Canada, to do the course and brought a whole lot of spirit with her. Her specialty there is bringing sailing experiences to people with disabilities. She was fairly new to climbing and I gained a lot from watching her learn. Her enthusiasm was infectious.


I came all the way from Australia to do this course, so I think you can guess rec climbing for me is a consuming passion/obsession.



First off the rank was the Basic Tree Climbing course.


Basic tree climbing is an area where I have some experience. Always ready to learn I found lots of info I could assimilate into my climbing. It’s the little tips (such as the distance between my hands on cradle throw) that make the big difference. Watching Carolyn as she blossomed was a joy for me. Viola, a single rope/big tree aficionado, also seemed to gain a lot from the course.



Rigging Course

I had been looking forward to this and the SRT course for a long time. The only rigging I had done was putting a lowering rope on a branch. Tim’s back-to-basics approach relieved us of our gear dependency and cemented the principles behind the rigging. We set up hauling systems, daisy ropes and Treeboats. Treeboats, put simply, are great. I can’t wait for mine to arrive hurry up US MAIL. Time relaxing in the Treeboat greatly enhanced my appreciation for old ‘Ed’ our Black Walnut climbing tree.






Introduction to Single Rope Technique (SRT)

This was a whole new world for me. SRT is not very common in Australia. There was a lot to absorb and I felt a little stretched on the first day. I’m from the old school and learning to trust mechanical ascenders was a big step. Once we got vertical that’s when the fun began. The hike to the climbing hill on the final day of the course revealed some beautiful vegetation, Douglas firs aplenty. A consensus was reached, the tree was chosen and we began to set our lines. Courtesy of Viola’s crossbow and Tim’s Big Shot this was quite a fun process, not easy but fun.


Once the lines were set we began to climb and a majestic view unfolded for us. I reached my anchor and then I noticed the breeze. Cold, cold enough to freeze my Australian bones. Tim had guided us through the ascent and the early stages of our descent too. Smiles all round on the ground as we had just shared a great experience. 




I went back to the RV and had a well-earned zzzz. Throughout the week we (my family and I) stayed in Tim’s RV, which was conveniently located right next to the climbing site. Through Tree Week I had some climbing fun, learnt a lot and made some great friends. As Tim says, tree climbing people are the “cream of the crop.”



            --Russ Tomlin


Tim points out a detail of the Yo-Yo technique to Viola

Russ enjoying the "bat hang"

Carolyn full of sunshine