Treetops at Michigan State University's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station were filled with more than just leaves and wildlife on Saturday, after nimble competitors got to act like kids again for the annual Michigan Tree Climbing Championship .
The competition, however, was a far cry from the backyard antics commonly associated with tree climbing. Seventeen participants - equipped with pulleys, climbing rope and safety gear - competed in a series of challenges that included moving to various waypoints set in the treetops, a quick vertical ascent and rescuing an "injured" climber represented by a life-size dummy.
All of the competitors were arborists, who spend their days looking after the health of trees, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported.
Michigan locals Jack Richardson, of Ann Arbor, and Charity Barnes, of Dexter, won the competition, according to MLve.com, a leading Michigan news site.
Both Richardson and Barnes will have the opportunity to complete in the International Tree Climbing Championship, which will be held in Milwaukee this August.
Barnes, the only female competitor that the Michigan event, was also a first-time competitor.
"I just gave it a whirl," Barnes told MLive. "It was super fun to be here and see all the excellent climbers and to be a part of it."
Sponsors for the event told The Associated Press that the competition usually has 20-30 participants, but that turnout was lower this year, perhaps because the event, which is usually held in the fall, was rescheduled because of inclement weather at the time.
"You've got to love the outdoors," Arboricultural Society of Michigan board member Bill Drews said of those who climb.
"You've got to have, I guess, a special love for trees," he told the Battle Creek Enquirer. "The camaraderie that you see here is exceptional. Sure, it's a competition, but it's about teaching new techniques to climbing."
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