Well, longer actually. But digging in my photo archives I came across these pics taken at the TCI Expo in Detroit in 2004 of Chris and me discussing loads on re-direct anchor point at the Demo Tree. Yes, I know there was less grey hair around than today.
Actually it’s hard to pin down when exactly informal discussions during a climb at work ended up being merely that and turned into what evolved into the project that was to become treemagineers. Turn of the millennia was a time when a first big push of innovation had gone before, with innovators such as Fred Matthias, François Dussenne, de Gourét Litchfield, Knut Foppe and Peter Styrnol, to name but a few, making relevant and important contributions towards tree climbing as we know it today. My first climb on NER’s Safety Blue HiVee remains for me a memorable event until this day, likewise being introduced to ring-ring cambium savers, my first climb on a Valdôtain Tresse, the introduction of Comet’s Vert or the Evolution, precursors of the Butterfly. These innovations were all hugely relevant to the industry and shaped the way we work nowadays.
However, there came a point, in the early 2000’s, when, in regards to the evolution of climbing equipment, things had gone very slow. You would go to a tree care show and the buzz would be about an existing climbing line being launched in a new colour combination. Round about this same time, Chris and I were discussing issues regarding the way we configured our gear in our climbing systems and were trying to address issues that we felt uncomfortable about, such as wide loading and nose-loading on karabiners, torsional loads on connectors etc.. Also during this period Beddes was busy in his shed spending hours thinking about what would make a good tree climbing harness and sowing any number of prototypes.
In other words, we had lots of ideas, but no channel to feed them into. Discussing how to move forwards with this, we soon realized that many people have good ideas, but as individuals it’s hard to seem them through, especially if you have no proven track record, as no one takes you seriously – or at least then it wasn’t the case, maybe this has changed somewhat in the mean time. So we decided to launch treemagineers – to have an entity that manufacturers would feel happier dealing with, rather than just three individuals with a couple of (maybe) good ideas and obviously lots of spare time.
Treemagineers to us was always and remains to this day about discussing and evolving ideas and concepts that interested us. Although the focus these last years has revolved heavily around development of PPE, we remain clear in our mind that that route is only one possibility to improve the ways in which we work. There are other areas that are equally interesting and at least as relevant, such as improving our understanding of everything that goes on around the climb, for example the work that Andreas Detter has been involved in over the years, such as the Rigging Research, a joint project with Treevolution, commissioned by the UK Health and Safety Executive and the Forestry Commission. Chris was also heavily involved in this project, I was able to contribute some illustrations.
This is one of the reasons we decided to invest in our mobile drop tower, as this will enable us to go back to basic questions we have wondered about and have discussed without ever having the means or the facility to test things in a reliable fashion. The tower that we will be premiering at the Climbers’ Forum in Augsburg in May will offer this possibility and hopefully new lines of thought can evolve around it.
I am convinced there is much still to be discovered in these diverse areas that revolve around working with trees and am happy that we have been able to make a small contribution towards hopefully helping to create a workplace that is safer, more ergonomic – and ultimately hopefully also more fun.