Event in Belgium

I will be traveling to Menen in Belgium on the 26.04.2014 for the opening of Condor Safety‘s new training centre.

There is a big event planned with the manufacturers they work with present and a program of presentations. I look forwards to being able to support Patsy and Wouter Verplancke and their team, as they do a cracking job and over the years have been extremely supportive of the Belgian arborist scene.



Workshop Kyoto

Well, I say Kyoto, but it’s actually a fair drive out of Kyoto itself out into the boonies. Beautiful location up in the hills surrounded by Cryptomeria, cherry blossom and forest. Had about eighty people attending, really friendly crowd, again, switched on and interested. There was obviously a fairly wide range in levels of competence, which can make delivering content a little tricky, especially if you are battling not just language, but als cultural barriers. But my feeling tends to be in such cases to allow people sufficient space to interact and discuss between blocks of content. That way you ensure that attendees have the opportunity to ask questions on a one on one basis and also just to discuss what was shown.

Once again, being able to rely on Takashi Osaka’s translating skills was invaluable. I am amazed at how he can spend a whole day translating from English to Japanese – not just English, but me liberally adding in witticisms to boot. But Tashi remains unflappable – even under pressure! Also thanks to Paul Poynter for giving a hand and bailing me out… one more workshop day tomorrow, then I will find out whether British Airways show the same films in both directions on their long-haul flights. I’m afraid I know the answer already.



10 years of treemagineers

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.

Early version of the logo, glad we gave it some more thought...
Early version of the logo, glad we gave it some more thought…

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.

Travel day to Kyoto

Travelled from Saitama to Kyoto with the Shinkanzen, which was rather exciting. Ok, geek moment, sorry. Fantastic view of Mount Fuji. Had a look around Kyoto, which has a good feel to it, large intact parts of the old town with very beautiful sights. Visited two shrines, not exactly alone, but situated in stunning parks.

Early start tomorrow to prep the workshop site…

Workshop in Saitama

First workshop day on this trip to Japan in the beautiful Forest Park in Saitama. Organisation by the KEM Japan team war spot on, crowd was switched on and friendly and apart from a couple of drops of rain mid afternoon the weather played the part, too.

Thanks to Paul and Tash from Kei’s Shop for their support and also Angela from Teufelberger for her presentation of the products. Onwards to Kyoto tomorrow. Taking the Shinkanzen, hopefully Fujiyama will decide to stick its head up out of the haze for us…


Climbers’ Forum

On the 6 and 7 May the Climbers’ Forum will be taking place as part of the German Tree Care days in Augsburg, for more info go to the web site: www.forum-baumpflege.de. This event has has been held annually for the past 15 years and during this time has developed  into a really vibrant, diverse and stimulating event showcasing a wide range of topics surrounding working in trees,  many new ideas were first shown here in public  and novel formats for presentations have been explored.

This year we will be premiering the treemagineers drop tower, which we’re all very excited about (and not in the least bit nervous, never!), also there will be  simultaneous translation from German to English and vice versa.

This event is unique in the tree climbing world and is a fantastic place to network, catch up with friends and stock up on new ideas and inspiration. If you’ve never been, why don’t you come and join us?

Going to Japan

Next week I will be traveling to Japan, after KEM Japan have kindly invited us back after last year’s workshops in Saitama. I will be returning to Saitama to do a one day event there, also we will be in Kyoto for  a two-day workshop. I really enjoyed the trip last year, KEM were very gracious hosts, the organization of the events was flawless and the attendees were very interested and switched on. I was also chuffed to catch the tail end of the cherry blossom, which seems very appropriate when visiting Japan.

Thanks to all involved for making this possible, DMM and Teufelberger for the support and the shipping ahead of the equipment and of course KEM for organizing and hosting the event.

I’ll post some pics as we go along…

KEM Workshops
Treemagineers workshop in Japan


Well, who would ever have thought it?! Compared to the normal rate at which we have progressed in the past in all matters web site related, we’re now almost going supersonic! Not only have we (finally) managed to up date our web site and get in on-line, but also we have integrated a blog into it, which is something we have discussed for a long time. Finally we decided that we liked the idea of having a channel to share thoughts and things that we find interesting with you. So here you are…

One of the reasons that we managed to clear the log jam was thanks to Julie and José at Thebe Mor who were in charge of the re-design. Thanks, Julie and José to both of you for you patience and for holding our collective hands through this process…

We were at their place, a rather lovely spot up in the Highlands, amongst other things to get some shots of us together. All serious? Not really, somehow, when we get together and try to do some serious photography, things always seem to go just a little bit loopy – especially when someone leaves bathtubs kicking around.