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We got the wrong tree!

Richard Tregoweth - Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Yes, we also make mistakes - we blogged about the wrong tree yesterday! Matt had advised us of a problem with one of the Open Masters trees. We ASS U MEd (remember what assume spells: make an ASS of U and ME) it was the tree for upcoming Open Masters event on 22 May. Apparently not so, the tree Matt was referring to was the oak used for the last Open Masters! A large limb (at least 600mm in diameter) has broken away from the main stem.

Johno Smith, a well know Auckland contract arborist and competition climber told me some time ago about the tendency for oak branches to break, particularly after a long dry summer. At the time I was surprised to hear that an oak was not as solid as I thought. We are not sure if this phenomenon is documented anywhere, it was more of an observation by Johno - and what a sage he has proved to be!

As you can see from the photo below, this branch was fairly substantial. In the Open Masters climb is was trusted by all the climbers - one of the stations was out at the very tip of the broken branch. All the climbers in the Open Masters are trained arborists and would have looked very closely at this branch, yet it snapped from the stem for no apparent reason over the following few weeks. This is not a reflection on the observation skills of the climbers but rather a reminder to us all of how fragile some of our anchors may be - even when they look as solid as a rock!

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