Anyone who has organized a tree climbing event can understand the apprehension before the big day (or weekend): will anyone actually turn up? Have we got enough food? Will they enjoy themselves? Will we be able to keep them amused? Will they leave saying 'that was the best weekend I've had in ages'?
Treetools is fairly certain those thoughts passed through the minds of NTCA founders Joe Cooper and Troy Alderton when they started planning the second annual tree climbers gathering in Otaua, Northland this weekend.
But Joe and Troy, and their supportive families, need not have worried - everything was all good!
NTCA Otaua 2012 proved to be everything you would expect from these guys! Family, fun, lots of learning, tree climbing discussion and debate - and all over a few beers, in typical Northland fashion.
International tree climbers (California, Mexico, Hong Kong and Sweden) flew in to join the locals from the UK, Coromandel, Germany, Auckland, Czechoslovakia, Australia, the Waikato and Northland. And they all managed to find their way to Otaua for this fantastic weekend.
As per last year, the Climb Every Thing crew, led by Johno Smith, kept the kids occupied with a speed line, lolly climb and slack line while the 'adults' played in trees.
One of the highlights of the weekend involved an impromptu ascent speed challenge pitching the hybrid DbRT rope walker configuration, designed by Californian Sal Hernandez, against Climb Every Thing Matty Smith on a Unicender SRT.
The height of the bell on the challenge ascent lines where not exactly equal so, graciously as host member, Matty took the longer route to the top.
By all appearances the odds where stacked in Sal's favor.
The Californian/Mexican weighed in at 80 odd kg and climbed with a two-to-one mechanical advantage. And, his test ascents looked fast and efficient.
By contrast, Matty packs over 100 kg in weight and has a fairly uninspiring 3 minute foot lock record (in the 2012 Auckland Regional comp) to his name.
On top of all that, Matty had to climb at least two meters higher than Sal with no mechanical advantage - his effort was going to be one-to-one power all the way to the top.
The starting gong chimed with high expectation but it was to no avail: the SRT ascent/DbRT challenge was all over in less than two seconds.
Matty hit the top bell before Sal was barely two meters off the ground - there was no point in the visitor continuing any further, Sal was well and truly beaten by Matty on the Unicender! (and Matty had barely broken a sweat).
It is international camaraderie like this that sets the NTCA arborcamps apart - this kind of connection cannot be manufactured, it must come from the heart - and that is what you get when you are up trees, up north.
Our thanks to the NTCA for another memorable weekend!USA visiting tree climber, Sal Hernandez (far right), demonstrating his DbRT rope walker system to Luke Hammond, Guy Clark and Harry Smith at Otaua on Saturday March 17, 2012 (more photographs to follow).