Red Bull Branched Out crowns new champions in Wellington's Pioneer park

Swinging: One of 100 competitors sails through the air during the Red Bull Branched Out tree climbing championships. Photo: Daniel Shirkie

Swinging: One of 100 competitors sails through the air during the Red Bull Branched Out tree climbing championships. Photo: Daniel Shirkie

The Red Bull Branched Out Tree Climbing Championships have crowned two new champions after a grueling three day tournament that featured 100 of the world’s best climbers and arborists. 

The crowds at Wellington really got behind us. We had the whole school down there cheering us on all day.

Champion Ryan Roberts

Nearly a thousand people from Wellington and elsewhere came out to support the competitors during the event, which involves competitors using rope and their climbing skills to make their way down from the 40 metre high tree canopy, ringing bells along the way and attempting to reach the ground in the fastest time possible.

Ryan Roberts from Central Coast, New South Wales beat the time of his closest challenger by fifteen seconds after making it through all stages of the tournament, from heats through to qualifiers, quarter finals, semi-finals and the main event in order to be crowned the male champion for 2018.

Roberts, a professional arborist, overcame his own fear of heights while competing in the competition. 

“Climbing trees is something you don't really get comfortable with. There is always an element of risk you're constantly monitoring. I use breathing techniques to calm me down every day,” Mr Roberts said.

Roberts felt ‘over the moon’ after taking home the championship and the prize money, but had tempered his hopes after seeing the level of competition on display. 

“I was competing against some of the best climbers in the world. I can't say I was feeling confident because there were around 20 climbers I thought that could have won the day,” Mr Roberts said.

“As much as the importance of agility, balance, strength, speed and determination play a huge role in success, a lot of luck has to come your way as well.”

Roberts time of 1 minute and 41 seconds earned him first place and his share of the prize pool of $20,000 in cash and $50,000 in equipment and gear.

Female champion Chrissy Spence came all the way from New Zealand to compete and secured a first place spot with her time of 2 minutes and 11 seconds.

Sam Smith and Craig Wilson, also from New Zealand, took second and third in the male tree climbing event.

The tree climbing championships, made possible by partnerships with Red Bull and Arboriculture Australia, are the largest tree climbing event in the world and brought competitors from all across the globe.