What can a tree climber expect in a climb?
Tree climbers use difficulty ratings. I got the idea of tree climbing difficulty ratings years ago from the rock climbers. It's a kind of barometer reading for tree climbers to get an idea of what kind of tree climbing they're getting into on a given climb.
Who gives the tree a difficulty rating number? It's usually based on the experience of the tree climber who makes the first ascent. The number might also be arrived at jointly from the tree climbing team. Is it exact? Certainly not. It's really an estimate. If the lead climber is having a bad tree climbing day, the numbers might be higher. If the tree is wet and slippery, the numbers will certainly go up. But it's just a ballpark idea of how hard it is to climb a specific tree. You can bet that the tree getting a difficulty rating also has a tree name.
Tree climbing ratings can be useful. Where I have seen it used to good effect is in describing how hard it is going to be to climb a certain tree. So if I tell you that we are going to climb a 5.9 tree today, you’ll probably need a 200-foot rope and a bit of stamina. If I told you we were going to go climb a 4.5 tree, you might want to invite your significant other along for a little tree climbing party/social. Get the picture?
I really wish people would use the difficulty rating more often. I think it would save some folks some grief and frustration from getting into a climb that could be exhausting and over their heads as far as skillsets. It’s really much more fun if the tree climbing team is together on the same page and up for the adventure.
What difficulty rating would you rate your favorite climbing tree?