Tree Climbing Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of our most frequently asked questions to date:


Does recreational tree climbing harm trees?

No. The techniques used for recreational tree climbing have been developed over many years by Peter Jenkins from Tree Climbers International and contributions from other tree climbers. When these techniques are implemented correctly, the tree is protected from abrasion and incidental damage by proper placement of temporary anchors and cambium savers.

Foot spikes (gaffs) are NEVER used to climb trees recreationally. These should only be used to climb trees that will be removed by working tree professionals.


Who can take your courses?

Just about anyone can take our courses!  Unlike rock climbing, our courses allow you to climb at your own pace and take rests when you need them - even while climbing!  The minimum age for courses is 5 years old.  Children under 18 must have their parental or legal guardian sign a release of liability waiver for them.  We can also accommodate physically disabled climbers with advanced notice.  All equipment is provided for our courses.


What equipment do I need to start climbing trees?

All necessary equipment is provided for our training courses.  The absolute minimum equipment we recommend for recreational tree climbing is a climbing harness, static arborist rope, at least 1 locking carabiner, a helmet, plenty of throw line, two throw weights, a cambium saver, and a prusik cord foot loop.


Do I need to use special rope?

Yes. Static arborist rope is required and we provide it for all of our courses. It is very supple, strong, abrasion resistant and ideal for tying knots. For these reasons it is used instead of rock climbing rope.


Dynamic (rock climbing) rope is sometimes used in top-rope or "lead climbing" situations by seasoned climbers. Never climb a tree in this manner without proper climbing instruction.

Never climb a tree without proper climbing instruction and gear, period.


What kind of shoes do I wear? Can I use my rock climbing shoes for climbing trees?

Regular closed-toe shoes or hiking boots work just fine. Slippers or flip-flops are not recommended.


What kind of clothing do I wear?

Generally, you will want to wear long pants that are slightly loose and comfortable. Remember that tree climbers climb in the shade so it's usually a bit cooler under the trees.


What if I'm afraid of heights?

That's ok. We are too. Tree climbing isn't about how high you can climb, it's about having fun and pushing forward when you are comfortable.  We can schedule a personalized climb to help you face your fear head on.


Where can I climb in California?

Cloud Nine Tree Climbing is working to gain access to public lands for recreational tree climbing.

  • US Forest Service land is open to trained recreational tree climbers.
  • Mountain Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) lands are also open to trained recreational tree climbers.
  • National Park land is not open to tree climbers at the moment.


Park rangers may inquire as to what you are doing up in a tree even if you are allowed to climb there. Treat them with respect and help them understand that you are using climbing techniques that are safe for you and the trees. You are responsible for any damage done to trees or trails so please use caution and only climb using standard tree climbing techniques. Always use cambium savers and friction savers to protect the trees. If there are nesting animals or insects in the tree, choose a different one. If you are asked to come out of a tree by a ranger or authorities, comply with their wishes.


Private Land - If you can gain permission, you can freely climb trees on private land. There may be ordinances against climbing "non-dedicated" trees in city and county parks.


What kinds of creatures are in and around trees in California?

Birds, squirrels, bees, and even cats hang out in trees regularly. Stay away from trees with nesting animals. Snakes, ground squirrels, coyotes, bears, and mountain lions are just some of the animals seen in California.

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