Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tree Climbing Names

Tree climbing names is a tradition that started at Tree Climbers International nearly 30 years ago. Here's the deal. When you have mastered basic tree climbing skills, you are a different person. That means you need to have a tree climbing name. It's a tribal kind of thing. A right of passage.

My first tree climbing student. Tom “Lorax” Coffin-“I speak for the trees”. PhD Urban Forestry, Senior Arborist of Atlanta- now retired (defended countless trees against developers), and TCI instructor.
So who awards the name? Most people name themselves. I usually ask the student to name themselves after they've graduated the TCI basic tree climbing course. Most people come up with that name pretty quickly. However, sometimes people get a little flustered and can't think of anything. Now they are at the mercy of their instructor or fellow tree climbing students. It's really quite funny the names that come up for consideration.

I had this news reporter team that came out to the TCI school years ago around Thanksgiving. They did a live interview directly from school. So we got to talking about tree climbing names. The lady anchorwoman asked me to give her a tree climbing name. Then the anchorman piped up and asked for his tree climbing name too. I told them the rules but they insisted. They must have their tree climbing names. And they hadn't even climbed!

I looked at the woman. A handsome young woman; very athletic looking. “Sweetgum. That's a good name. I think it should be Sweetgum.” A sour expression washed over her face. “Hey! Sweetgums are great climbing trees. You've just got to put up with those spiny balls.”

The anchorman perked up. “Hey what's my name going to be? What's my name going to be?” I looked the man over trying to think of an appropriate name. Here was an aggressive kind a guy that got in your face. I was drawing a blank. Then I thought about the occasion. It was Thanksgiving.

“Flying Turkey. That's what it is. I’ll name you Flying Turkey.” Everybody got real quiet. “Did somebody say quiet on the set?” I looked over the anchorman's shoulder to the cameraman. He was trying to cover his face and conceal his laughter. End of interview. They were packing up and leaving in a hurry. Oh well.

What's your tree climbing name? How did you get it? Tell us all about it.


  1. 2chops...It's a derivitive of chop chop. A name I was given by my co-workers years ago, due to my long time martial arts background. Once it was discovered that I'm also part Native American it became 2chops. My most favorite nick name ever.

  2. oh god, i haven't got any climbing name, it's the first time i've heard of such nicknames...
    i promise to speak to my associates to rectify this situation

  3. Mine, which I've carried for over ten years, though haven't used in quite a while, is "Tear" (pronounced like the thing running down your cheek, not like when you rip your clothes off!). I don't remember how my fourteen year old self chose it, but I liked it then, and thinking about it at this minute, I like it now!


  4. I received my tree climbing name after reflecting on myself while up in Nimrod ( Peter's first climbing tree ) for a tree climb.I could watch all the activity on the ground but not be part of it. It also was chosen to remind me of my first ambush in R.V.N.

  5. Man was I happy to find Dick Flowers teaching a climbing course in Michigan where I live. Many thanks to him and those who helped him with the class. It was in my research online that I discovered all the "big-name" RTCs had nicknames; I knew I wanted one. I came up with one quickly, "Moss". After realizing there was already a much more experienced climber with this name, I had to pick something else. I then came up with "Biophilus" meaning "lover of life/biology". This was a play off of Theophilus, "Lover of God," named in the opening lines of the book of Acts. It rolls off the tongue and combines my love for trees, biology, and God. I think it suits me well though it is not as pithy (pun intended) as a monosyllabic name.

  6. I confess I also have a Tree Trimmer name...
    I call myself Ken "let it lay"Anderson........
    Because I climb-it I cut-it...Then I let it lay on the ground for the next guy...Sorry Guy's it's my Job..........Thx,Ken

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  8. Feeling you in splashing waves as my feet crumble the world each time a little more. I am the extremetree.