Local arborist heading to International Tree Climbing Championship
Leilak Anderson is the North American champ and heads to Washington, D.C. from July 28 to 30
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Leilak Anderson says he was born into the tree business and much of what he knows, he learned from his father, Jeb.
“My dad was a lumberjack specializing in dangerous trees,” he said.
Anderson, a certified arborist from Wakefield, Que., cares for trees across the Ottawa and Gatineau region. He is also the reigning North American Tree-Climbing Champion, and later this month, he will be competing at the International Tree Climbing Championship in Washington, D.C., against people from 13 countries.
“It’s a demonstration of the skills and techniques that we use daily,” he said. “My training is when I’m going out working, to be honest.”
The competitions emphasize safety, Anderson said, and all of the events are based on skills they need for the job: aerial rescue; pruning work; throwing weighted balls at targets 100-feet in the air, a technique arborists use to place ropes to access the tree; and fast scrambles up the trees
Anderson has been competing for 10 years and says the judges are looking for innovation and demonstration of safe techniques to get bonus points.
“The competitions give me much better skills to use at work,” he said, explaining they also include trade shows and conferences. “Every time we travel and meet and do these competitions… you tend to find out how they’re doing it on the other side of the world and if there’s any advantage.”
Anderson said he’s planning to go into the competition with the goal of just having fun.
“I’ll do my best standings in a calm state of mind,” he said. “But being North American champ, they’re going to be looking out for me.”