Well, June was a busy month. Jonathan was competing at the European Tree Climbing Championships on 23rd and 24th June in Bernreid Germany - about one hour from Munich. As always the ETCC was a fantastic competition and the setting was beautiful. The Site was right next to a stunning lake - the starnbergersee with glimpses of the German Alps in the distance.
The trees weren't huge and the local authorities had strict rules about the amount of pruning and dead wooding that could be carried out prior to the event. This proved a challenge for organisers and climbers alike.
The prelim day went well for team UK & I with Stuart Witt the overall winner of the prelim events.
Jonathan was really pleased with his work climb but Stuart absolutely smoked it. Stuart gained first place and Jonathan Second.
The Throw line was another matter entirely for Jonathan; in fact, I think it's safe to say that it was a bit of a disaster! He was on track for scoring 15 points for the first side of the tree, he got the top shot with the throw line, scored the throw line, went to pull in the access line and then the throw line snapped as he was pulling in the rope! In the end he scored 7 points.
Jonathan's foot-lock went fairly well, he came third with a time of 16.10 seconds.
This year’s speed-climb event was great. The base of the tree had natural holds strapped to it. When the climbers were looking at the tree on Saturday morning they new the times were going to be fast. It was 20 metres to the bell and the fastest times were between 20 and 30 Seconds Jonathan did it in 29.37 seconds.
The Arial Rescue provided a great demonstration of a possible real life situation. The scenario was that there were only two climbers on site, the casualty and the rescuer - a very realistic situation. The casualty had a chainsaw cut to the back of his thigh and the rescuer had to simulate making the emergency call, assess the tree for hazards and rescue the casualty. Reaching the casualty was fairly straight forward but there were small obstacles in the way such as the casualty’s chainsaw and his leg was wedged in a fork. Adding to the reality of the scenario the dummy used to represent the casualty weighed 90 kilos.
Stuart, Jonathan and Jo Hedger went through to the Masters Challenge the next day. It really is a testament to the quality of climbers that we have in the UK & I that 3 members of our team made it through to the Masters in such a competitive field. The ETCC really does showcase some of the best climbers, not just in Europe but also the World.
The Masters Challenge on the Sunday provided and exciting spectacle for all those watching. I have never seen so many spectators at a European or Chapter level tree climbing competition, there must have been about 200 + people watching, it certainly added to the atmosphere of the event. Competing in the Masters Challenge for the men were:
Stuart Witt – UK & I
Giovanni Ugo - Italy
Johan Gustavsson – Sweden
Beddes – Germany
Jonathan – UK & I
And for the women:
Anja Erni – Switzerland
Veronika Ericsson – Sweden
Jo Hedger – UK & I
The Challenge was set in two oak trees it was really well set up and challenged everyone who climbed it. Unfortunately Jonathan was haunted by his blasted throw line and took 5 shots to get his line into the tree. This put him under a lot of time pressure. He felt he was rushing through the tree and as a result set of the limb walk. In the end he did manage to complete all the stations and get all his gear out of the tree in time – just! Sadly Giovanni timed out and Stuart was DQ’d for dropping a karabiner. Beddes had a good climb but the man of the hour was Johan. He had a great climb and was announced the winner of the 2012 ETCC.
It was a tough competition for the women. Annoyingly both Veronika and Jo were DQ’d for breaking a branch, it’s so heart breaking to watch because you know how hard they are working and in a split second it’s over.
All in all I can say that the 2012 ETCC was a superb competition, not only does it showcase some of the best tree climbing in the world, it’s a wonderful chance to meet up with friends that we usually only see once a year. I was really proud, not just of Jonathan but also of the whole of team UK & I and everyone who was there to support them.