Female arborist climbs to world competition

Arborist and competitive tree climber Stephanie Dryfhout in her element. Photos: Chris Grueber.

A Te Puke woman is climbing her way towards international victory after winning the NZ Women’s Arborist Tree Climbing Championship title last weekend in Invercargill.

Stephanie Dryfhout – who is an arborist in her day-job – says the national title win has grasped her a chance to compete at the International Tree Climbing Championship 2024 in the United States.

“It felt awesome to win! I will now be able to compete at the ITCC in Atlanta, Georgia, late next year,” says Stephanie. “This is actually my sixth straight win.”

Apart from the national title, Stephanie also won the women’s category, the work climb and the aerial rescue events in the first round of competition.

“Tree climbing competitions are made up of two rounds,” says Stephanie. “The first round has five individual events that mimic some of the skills that are required to be an arborist, including an aerial rescue, climbing around a large spreading tree, installing ropes and speed events.

“The second round is called the Masters Challenge. This takes the top climbers from the first round and the aim of the event is to display many aspects of tree climbing including efficiency, planning, safety and finesse.”  

Stephanie’s interest in tree climbing came from a background in horticulture. “I saw a video of the world champion at the time. I’d always been pretty keen on sports so that was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, like I had to do this.”

She got into the sport in 2017 and has been competing ever since. “My favourite thing about tree climbing is the community, the people involved are like family. It is an individual sport, yet everyone helps everyone and wants everyone to do their best.

“I’d like to continue to compete or help out for as long as I am able to do so.” Watch this space!

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