Climbing to new heights

April 21, 2013 · 3 minute read

Many people assume that professional tree climbing is a man’s job. Tree work is dirty, physically and mentally demanding, and statistically one of the most dangerous ways to earn a living. Oh yeah, and for all that, the living earned by pruning, caring for, and removing trees tends to be a meager one.

Lohse climbs in Byrd Park

Lohse climbs in Byrd Park

I suppose it’s hard to understand why any man would decide to climb trees for a living, and harder still to understand why any woman would take on this profession.

Why? What kind of person? 

Well, the answer has already been stated.  It is not any man who chooses to climb trees, and it is certainly not any woman. The person who climbs trees for a living is a woman or man who likes to get dirty, who likes to be physically and mentally challenged each day, and who likes the invigorating, life-affirming feeling of pitting themselves against difficult, inherently dangerous tasks.

Most importantly, the professional tree climber is a woman or man who knows that quality and excitement of life are more significant for self-realization than quantity of income. What follows is the story of just such a woman, not just any woman.

Jocelyn Lohse came to Riverside Outfitters and Truetimber Tree Service in the summer of 2010. She was brought onboard to help with the summer activities at Riverside where she helped with tree climbing camps for kids, white-water rafting and other guided river experiences, splitting firewood, and anything else that needed done in our new and growing outfitting company.

We quickly learned that Jocelyn had abundant “anything else” capability.

For a girl with a short, slight build, she attacked her work with big purpose and intent. She could handle rope, wrench, or hammer with uncommon aptitude. But don’t be misled. Jocelyn is no tomboy.  She showed herself to be equally capable with care and counseling of young children, the culinary arts, and even needle and thread.

When the summer ended and there was less to do at Riverside, Truetimber brought this “lightweight” into its fold for the off season.  Jocelyn waited patiently for her opportunities, dragging brush, hauling wood, and laughing-off crewmember’s attempts at chivalry until she began to get opportunities to climb trees with the big boys. She had been practicing in the city parks on her off time and she was ready.

Lohse competes at at the Mid-Atlantic Tree Climbing Championship

Lohse competes at the Mid-Atlantic Tree Climbing Championship

Jocelyn quickly became a wonderful addition to our climbing staff.

How good did she get? Well, after swinging around in trees for only a handful of months, Jocelyn competed in her first Mid-Atlantic Tree Climbing Championship and had one of the highest scores for a female competitor that event has witnessed. At the competition, a grueling six event day testing a wide range of arboricultural skills, one always knew where Jocelyn’s group was and when she was competing because she drew the loudest applause and cheers of encouragement.

Jocelyn has now won this event the last three years, her most recent victory coming a couple of weeks ago when the competition was held in the trees surrounding the Round House in Richmond’s Byrd Park.  As the Mid-Atlantic regional champion she goes on to represent this chapter of the ISA(International Society of Arboriculture) in its international competition. In 2011 she competed in Australia, and last year she finished 10th in the world when the competition was held in Portland, Oregon.

Congratulations Jocelyn!  We are very proud of you, and can’t wait to see how you do in the 2013 international competition in Ontario, Canada.