Melanie Hamilton participates in a tree climbing training session in March 2019. Hamilton recently took second place in the state climbing competition. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
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Homewood arborist places 2nd in state tree climbing competition, advances to regional

Homewood arborist Melanie Hamilton placed second in the Illinois Arborist Association Tree Climbing Competition on May 18 and 19 at St. James Farm in Warrenville. 

Homewood arborist Melanie Hamilton, right, listens to instructions from champion tree climber Beau Nabev during a training session in Homewood in 2019. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Homewood arborist Melanie Hamilton, right, listens to instructions
from champion tree climber Beau Nagan during a training session
in Homewood in 2019. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Hamilton, along with her Homewood colleague, arborist Katie Becker, competed against seven other women in the state-wide competition. 

Homewood was one of two municipal government agencies in the competition. Tree climbing competitions are designed to simulate working conditions of arborists. Homewood arborists frequently climb trees to perform work-related tasks. 

“With it being our first time competing in the competition, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Landscape and Maintenance Supervisor Bryon Doerr. “Mel ended up competing better than we thought and Homewood is excited to compete each year moving forward.”  

Hamilton and Becker competed in five events: aerial rescue, speed climb, ascent, throw line and work climb. The five events test a competitor’s ability to quickly, professionally and safely maneuver in a tree while performing work-related tree care tasks. Points are awarded based on several scoring factors to determine a ranking. 

Nine women registered for the competition, but only seven competed. This year set the record for number of women registered to compete. Additionally,  men and women competitors share the exact same requirements for each event. 

During the ascent event, the goal is to climb a tree as fast as possible. Hamilton climbed a 52-foot tree in just over one minute. 

Hamilton’s second place finish qualifies her to compete in the regional North American Tree Climbing Competition that will be held in March 2025 in Texas. Becker was just shy of advancing to the final round on Sunday, May 19. 

If Hamilton wins the North American competition, she will earn a spot in the International Tree Climbing Competition to compete against climbing arborists from around the world. 

When asked what the secret was to a successful tree climb, Hamilton said, “lots of cardiovascular endurance.” 

Hamilton and Becker did not prepare or know what kind of endurance would be needed for the climbing events, but agree they will be more prepared for next year. 

Homewood has a team of four certified arborists on staff, and three are trained tree climbers. Safety and training are priorities of the Landscape and Maintenance Department and staff members regularly attend training to keep skills sharp. 

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