Taking a break from projecting rock, Chris Sharma returned to his home state to try climbing some of the oldest and largest trees in the United States: California’s Redwoods.
“Growing up in Santa Cruz, even before I started rock climbing, I always played on trees,” Sharma says in the video below. “I always come back between my travels to the Redwood forest and walk around, and I’ve started looking up and seeing more than just trees, but actually seeing lines that would be amazing to climb on.”
Sharma joined forces with the UC Berkeley tree biologist Anthony Ambrose to take samples of the tree’s leaves to determine its water-stress levels.
The tree chosen for the climb is a 600-year-old Sequoia sempervirens, a cousin of the Giant Sequoias found farther inland in California. The bark on the tree’s lower trunk was fire-hardened and did not support lichens or mosses that would be at risk of damage from climbing.
“Chris’ entire climb was incredibly low-impact and on solid outer bark well below the branch level that might host fragile ecosystems,” says Ambrose.
Sharma and the rest of the UC Berkley team discourage illegal climbing in the Redwood forest, as the old-growth canopies are extremely sensitive. Legal climbing in the Redwood forest and tours of the canopy are offered through several private companies and guide services, such as Tree Climbing Planet, Sonoma Canopy Tours and Redwood Canopy Tours.