Archive for Saturday, September 16, 2006

A club for the young at heart

KU tree climbers do more than just hang out

September 16, 2006


If you like to play Tarzan and you're looking for like-minded people, there is a group for you.

"We started climbing trees because we thought it was fun," said Kansas University junior Andrew Flanery. "A cop told us to get out of a tree once and we didn't like that. We decided if it was a club, then it would be legal."

Flanery is a leader of the Tree Climbing Club, a fledgling KU student group whose members relive the childhood pastime of climbing trees.

The group of about six club members walked to Veterans Park this week for one of the first meetings of the semester.

There was no sitting around a table and gabbing. Instead, the club members scampered up the trunks of trees and scurried across the branches.

"We choose to test the limits of the human body, to see how far we can stretch ourselves or stretch the tree - whichever breaks first," KU freshman Micah Canfield shouted from a high limb.

With a sprinting start, Flanery jumped and grabbed the dangling foot of another club member in a tree. He used the foot to get him high enough to reach the lowest branches and, with his upper body, pulled himself into the tall oak.

Bystanders who had come to shoot hoops in the basketball courts stopped their play to watch the club.

"I just want to know how the hell they got up there," said Johnny Ruiz, a bystander who looked up in awe as the tree climbers ascended.

Katie Dennis, a KU junior and club member, said soaring in the branches is an alternative to going to the bars or boring parties. And the club members aren't the type to sit around and watch television.

"They're a little adventurous," she said.

They do it for the sheer pleasure of dawdling amid the leaves and befriending squirrels.

"It's very enjoyable to sit up in the tree and just enjoy the view," said Jon Simon, a KU sophomore.

But scoping out the best arboreal challenge isn't always easy.

"It's actually kind of hard to find a good tree to climb," Simon said. "Not only does it have to be safe - away from telephone poles. It has to be big enough to actually be enjoyable to climb around - tall and wide."

Some trees are better than others.

"Oaks are really hard," Flanery said. "You have to get a boost into them. Sycamores are extremely easy. We like those. We don't do pines - too many needles."


Tychoman 11 years, 9 months ago

This tree-climbing club is awesome! Finally, some real news!

Sandra Willis 11 years, 9 months ago

My only Question is this: Are the climbers only climbing established trees? Downtown and KU has to replace trees every year, because of fools climbing, destroying trees ...

Would that be considered Vandalism?

as_I_live_and_breathe 11 years, 9 months ago

We should not let fools climb trees. only those who have completed a 4 year tree climbing course.....

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