History and Background
The first tree climbing competitions were held in California as a way to train for the classic skills that would prepare a climber equipped with nothing more than a rope to have the ability to save a life in an aerial rescue. The competitions grew as more and more tree care companies encouraged their workers to participate.
The Western Chapter of the ISA then began to incorporate the competitions as an official chapter event. Due to its popularity and influence, Western Chapter members solicited the Board of the ISA to hold tree climbing competitions as part of its annual conference. The first official "ISA Jamboree" was held in 1976 in St. Louis, MO. Over the years, new events and techniques were introduced and a formal set of rules was developed.
The event expanded internationally in 1994 when the first European climber entered the competition. The European expansion brought even more innovative techniques and spurred a revitalization in the competition events which was introduced at the 1996 competition. This included the addition of a championship round known as the Masters' Challenge and the name change to the International Tree Climbing Championship.
The ITCC continued growing as women began to compete in the event. The first women's champion, Christina Engel of Germany, was named in 2001. Today nearly a third of the competitors at the world championship are women.
Now in addition to the ITCC World Championship, the ISA holds three annual regional events in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific. The winners of these events, as well as winners of competitions held by ISA chapters and associate organizations around the globe, are invited to the World Championship.
The ITCC has reinvented the tree climbing equipment and tree care industries by bringing the end users and manufacturers together. The result has been an explosion of inventions and products specifically designed for tree care applications.
Industry safety standards in nearly every participating country have benefited from these innovations. The events also instill a respect for the role of the tree climber and a strong focus for the individuals of the climber community to improve safety in the work environment for all tree care workers.