One hundred of the world’s best climbers and arborists – tree specialists – went head-to-head in a huge Red Bull-sponsored contest to decide a world champion recently. Not many know it, but the event was held in Australia. And guess what? It was won by an Aussie.
Red Bull Branched Out, in partnership with Arboriculture Australia, has just completed its second running. On a scale only a company like Red Bull can manage, the venue at Wellington, near Dubbo in NSW, was a high-adrenaline destination for three full days.
The idea is to be the fastest down from a 40-metre tree, planning your own route, but ringing bells in set positions on the way. The quickest time wins.
Dangling from a rope, 40m above the ground, trying to get to the deck as fast as possible… what could go wrong?
An international field, male and female, including Aussies, Kiwis, French, Irish and Italians all rocked up, roped up, and rappelled their way to international tree-climbing stardom. But the fastest man over the three days was Ryan ‘Tarzan’ Roberts, 30, from the NSW central coast.
Ryan’s an arborist by trade, and he was pumped to take the win.
“It was a massive shock,” he barked. “There I was in the grand final with all the best climbers in the world, and I was thinking, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ I never thought I’d go so well.” The way the draw was structured meant.
Ryan had to go first in the grand final. That meant all the other competitors could watch his form and see which part of his route worked well. As it turned out, being first on the rope worked in Ryan’s favour… sort of.
“I had a really good run,” grinned Roberts. “Everything went pretty smooth until I burnt my hands and leg on the last metre of rope before I hit the ground.”
When he said ‘burnt’, he meant it. Ryan sustained third-degree burns on both hands. But what’s that matter when you’ve just grabbed a share of a $20,000 cash prize pool and a slice of $50,000 in equipment?
And You’re The Champ?
Not only the The Champ, but the defending champ. That’s right. Branched Out is set to run again in 2019, bigger and better, at a venue yet to be announced.
Will Ryan Be There?
“Hundred per cent!” said the champ. “I’m definitely in training for next year!”