Remember those days of climbing up trees, scraping skin off knees and elbows, and then tumbling from a low branch into nettles? Nowadays it’s injuries from crashing off trampolines rather than falling from trees that make the queues at A&E, but for anyone who can remember golden summers mucking about with mates in woodland, the equally golden memory of tree climbing lingers on.
Chris Sharma, a climber from the US, has taken this one level further, temporarily deserting the towering limestone cliffs of his adopted Spain to return home to California and climb a giant redwood tree.
Sharma decided to free climb the tree, using just hands and feet without spurs to dig into the bark. The tree he climbed soared 77 meters, with 50 meters of pure bark before he reached the first branch. This posed a great challenge, with the myriad patterns in the bark making it impossible to remember hand and foot holds as he might on a rock face.
“As rock climbers, we’re trained to look at cliffs and see the sequence. On the redwood, I drew a blank. I got disoriented by all the patterns,” said Chris Sharma.
But the experience proved highly rewarding.
“For me, climbing has always been about reconnecting to that playful side. It can be so serious. You put your heart and soul into a hard rock project. But it’s also good to take a step back and remember that this is supposed to be about having fun.”