Over the July 16-17 weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to join a team of professional tree climbers and a UBC research student in the Carmanah Valley and photograph their endeavors.
The aim of the tree climbing project was to assist UBC Forest and Conservation Sciences Student, Vincent Hanlon in his somatic mutation research of Sitka spruce tre DNA. The climbing team, consisting of Jamz Luce, Matthew Beatty, and Ryan Murphy, used low-impact rope techniques to access and sample the highest possible new growth points in each tree, record specific sample location data, and to measure both the sample height and ultimate tree height. Over the course of 7 days they ascended 23 trees that averaged heights of 75 meters or 250ft, with the tallest (and largest by volume) measuring in at 84 meters tall. Their skills among the tree tops and dedication to helping further conservation and research efforts is something to behold. Trees were also accurately measure for submission to the BC Big Tree Registry.
The feeling of beginning on the forest floor, slowly ascending up the towering trunk of a centuries-old tree, before reaching the upper canopy at over 250ft in the air with panoramic views of a fully intact valley is an experience that truly defies words. It's humbling and beautiful beyond imagination. I can only hope that the photos captured here do it some justice.
Thank you again to Vincent Hanlon, Jon Degner and Sally Aitkin at UBC Forestry for this rare and extraordinary opportunity and to the climbers for once again making access to this rarely-seen world possible.