Petzl America recently hosted the first Petzl Arborist Climbing Symposium. More than 60 arborists from throughout North America gathered at Petzl America’s LEED Platinum-certified headquarters and its 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art technical training center.
“The goal of this event is to bring together leading safety specialists, thinkers, researchers, climbers, and product experts to share ideas and solutions to tree climbing,” said Rudy Rutemiller, Petzl America’s eastern sales manager and certified arborist. “Part of Petzl’s mission is to build community, and getting this incredibly talented group of arborists together in one space connects the industry and allows new techniques and thoughts to spread across the country.”
Attendees converged together for a celebratory welcome, as well as a keynote address by David L. Anderson, Ph. D., ornithologist, arborist, educator and Research Biologist at The Peregrine Fund and founder of Canopy Watch, an organization dedicated to saving the Earth’s canopies by providing tree climbing training for biologists all over Latin America at no cost to the students.
The following day, guests attended presentations by Ken Palmer, president of ArborMaster; Axel Avila and Tony Tesset, lead instructors for North American Training Solutions; and Tim Walsh, corporate director of Safety for Davey Tree. Topics ranged from redirecting canopy lines and work positioning to canopy anchoring solutions and industry safety statistics and mitigation.
In the afternoon, attendees visited workstations led by tree climbing industry experts. Static and dynamic drop tests were performed on specialized arborist equipment with a variety of configurations and offered immediate load cell readouts. A 2,000-pound log provided the stage for a tree care solutions station, which focused on Petzl’s new stationary rope system solutions. Multiple canopy anchoring solutions were taught on limbs anchored to the training facility structure to simulate real world scenarios.
The final day of the symposium was held at Liberty Park. Maurice Pilotte, an arborist based in Quebec with 30-plus years tree climbing experience, led a workshop on canopy access and rescue solutions. There was also an opportunity for guests to share climbing techniques and solutions. Melissa LeVangie, from Shelter Tree, spoke about the Women’s Tree Climbing Workshops, taught by herself and more than 20 women with a mission “to create a safe, encouraging, and empowering learning environment for women to climb trees, with an emphasis on arboriculture.” Mark Przekurat, owner of Renaissance Acres Tree Care, advised on the importance of being a leader who emphasizes respect, understanding, and care for employees. Guests Kevin Kelley, Nick Bleckert, and Ken Palmer also shared their expertise.
Nathan Williams, Petzl America’s Technical Institute Trainer, wrapped up the symposium with a PPE Inspection Awareness Training, which briefly touched on how to examine work-at-height personal protective equipment.