BAUMKLETTERN / Weltmeisterschaft in Montreal
Bernd Strasser
Men's Champion 2003

Bernd Strasser, known as Beddes by friends, climbed almost flawlessly to his fourth ITCC championship in Montréal, Québec in August. His Masters' Challenge climb awed hundreds of spectators who had gathered to watch what they knew would be an incredible competition in the massive, spreading cottonwood tree. They were not disappointed.

Beddes has been climbing for 13 years and competing on the chapter and international levels since 1994. He owns Baumkletterteam ("tree climbing team"), a company specializing in seed collection, research facilitation, and pruning. Beddes gives worldwide workshops on advanced climbing techniques, aerial rescue, and rigging. He also is a certified European tree worker, an instructor for several German seed institutions, and a certified instructor for the use of chain saws in trees. One interesting job involved clearing trees back from ruins, which gave him more of an appreciation of the importance of trees to humankind throughout the centuries.

When asked how things have changed since his first ITCC victory in 1997, Beddes answered, "Winning is still a lot of fun …, for some reason even more now than it was the first time. My son, Silas, is 11 now, and I find I get happier every day as he grows." In his spare time, Beddes enjoys paragliding, snowboarding, touring, hiking, traveling, and climbing trees.

Strasser's day-to-day work comprises his training regimen, although he does try to run occasionally, and he emphasizes the benefits of stretching out. "I try to stretch for 10 minutes a day right after work, if possible. It becomes a daily routine that feels really amazing. You recover faster, and the chance of getting injured is lower." Although age hasn't become a significant factor yet, he feels that he relies more now on his mental strength than on his physical strength, as he did in years past.

One of the changes to ITCC over the years has been the addition of the women's competition, and Beddes is a big proponent. "The women are amazing; they've come a long way in just three years of competition. Thanks to ISA for organizing the women's competition. I think it not only helps the women in the field, but in the long run, it helps the men, too. They bring a new energy to both the competition and the profession."

Reflecting on how tree climbing competitions compare to professional climbing Beddes says, "If you look at the tree as a 'sport object,' you will never get really flowing; you will never get the 'support' of the tree. Instead, respect the tree as a living being, be grateful for its existence, and listen to the tree (with your heart). You will notice a 'treemendous' difference."

This philosophy is evident to anyone who has watched Beddes climb. Listening to the spectators in Montréal, one could appreciate fellow climbers' respect for the skill and techniques Beddes used as he maneuvered through the crown. But a nonclimber watching the Masters' Challenge remarked, "All of these climbers seem incredibly skilled and agile in the tree. But Strasser, he looks so fluid, he looks like he's almost a part of the tree."

Beddes has a closing remark for his friends at ISA: "'Climb safe'-this is what climbers say to each other instead of 'goodbye' or 'see you later.'"

erschienen in Arborist News 09/2003 und auf der Homepage von:
International Society of Arboriculture (