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  • Hannah Scott-Talib

Carolina climber clobbers competition

Dozens of visitors from all over North America flocked to arborist Leilak Anderson’s farm in Wakefield to watch and participate in Canada’s first ever North American Open Masters (NAOM) tree-climbing event.

Close to 50 of the top arborists in North America took part in the Wakefield NAOM event. Gregoire Crevier photo

According to Anderson’s partner, Quebec NAOM co-host Jess Harris, the event received visitors from as far away as North Carolina, California and even Mexico.

The North American tree-climbing event took place at Harris and Anderson’s farm off of Chemin de la Rivière from July 21 to 23. Over the course of the weekend, various events took place, including a work climb, a speed climb, a night climb, and an aerial rescue challenge.

There were challenges for climbers of all ages, but for the professionals, preliminary events took place on Friday and Saturday, with the “Masters Challenge” occurring on Sunday morning with all the top finalists of the preliminary events.

The masters challenge was a gripping event in which finalists were required to scale a tree and ring a series of bells at different points in the tree, all within a short time frame, while judges watched and evaluated from below. Emerging as the triumphant champion of the Quebec NAOM masters challenge was Shawn Welch from North Carolina, pulling his ninth NAOM win in his tree-climbing career. Earning the silver spot was Dan Kraus from Washington, an international tree-climbing champion of the year 2005. Jesse Bouchard-Nestor from Laval took the third place spot, followed by Ontario’s Adrian Henrich in fourth place and California’s Joe Wurzel in fifth.

Wakefield arborist Leilak Anderson pumps himself ahead of the night climb on July 21. Gregoire Crevier photo

In addition to being an arborist, Anderson is also a long time tree-climbing competitor and has represented Quebec in international events of the sport. In a recent interview with the Low Down before NAOM, he stated that he was thrilled to show off his hometown as well as his tree-climbing skills to his fellow competitors and visitors.

Visitors commented on the unique sense of friendliness, welcomeness and festivity at the first-ever NAOM event – and first ever in Quebec – held in Wakefield, said Harris.

She added that she and Anderson were very pleased with how great the weekend went.

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