Peterborough and Antrim residents headed to tree-climbing championship

Kate Odell from Broad Oak Tree & Shrub Care in Peterborough ascends during a past ISA championship. 

Kate Odell from Broad Oak Tree & Shrub Care in Peterborough ascends during a past ISA championship.  —COURTESY PHOTO

Kyle McCabe from Northern Arboriculture in Antrim descends during an aerial rescue segment of the competition.

Kyle McCabe from Northern Arboriculture in Antrim descends during an aerial rescue segment of the competition. —COURTESY PHOTO

Kate Odell takes part in the belayed ascent portion of the competition. 

Kate Odell takes part in the belayed ascent portion of the competition.  —COURTESY PHOTO

By AIDAN BEAROR

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 08-09-2023 11:39 AM

Kate Odell of Broad Oak Tree & Shrub Care in Peterborough and Kyle McCabe from Northern Arboriculture in Antrim will be competing this weekend at the annual ISA International Tree Climbing Championship.

The pair won their way to the championship Aug. 11 to 13 in Albuquerque, N.M., after finishing on top at the New England Chapter Championship in June. The competition features climbers representing the chapters of Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and other regional chapters from across the United States. It consists of several events to test the participating arborists in their ability to perform safety protocols required within the field of tree care.

As a relative newcomer to the competition, the event is an opportunity for Odell to learn and network.

“I'm still getting used to the rules and how to play the game to get points to win effectively,” she said. “Just being around all of those climbers and networking with them and just meeting them is tremendously valuable. And then also I'm just getting my name out there.”

Preliminary events during the early competition include an aerial rescue, which is a simulated emergency designed to test competitors’ response to a fellow arborist injured in a tree.  The competition will also feature a “work climb,” which is centered around arborists demonstrating proficiency being harnessed. Competitors will be tested on balance and skill during this section. 

The “Masters Challenge,” administered on the final day of the competition, is an event intended to be a rounded demonstration of each arborist’s abilities. The challenge measures the use of equipment, climbing techniques, safe work practices and poise in the tree. Judges will look at all facets of each individual climber and will announce winners by gender division. 

Both Odell and McCabe have extensive experience in the field. McCabe’s father and brother are also certified in arboriculture, steeping him in the culture of climbing from a young age. In his youth, he was a competitive rock climber, traveling worldwide as a teen for competitions. After defending his 2022 New England Championship title this year, he will have his eyes on the podium in New Mexico. 

Odell is a Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA)-certified tree-care safety professional and plant health care specialist, her career is centered around diagnosing and treating ailing plant life. In a male-dominated industry, she sees these competitions as an opportunity to gain perspective. 

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“I think only like 7% of our industry is women, and most of them are in administrative roles,” said Odell. “It's not the case everywhere, and [in] Nordic countries, it's closer to 50/50, so it is possible. Here, you get to meet other women and also be around men in the industry who are some of the most open-minded and welcoming for women.”