What is trunking?
It’s climbing a tree’s trunk, arguably the most difficult part of the climb. Trunking ends when you rise above the crown, the point when the trunk begins branching. There are exceptions to this, but it is the general rule. Tree climbing typically gets much simpler past that point, since there are plenty of limbs to hold.
How does one climb the trunk? Trunking takes its cues from bouldering, the sport of climbing relatively small boulders without a harness to catch you. Tree trunks are not perfect cylinders. If there are stumps to grab, edges or crevasses in the bark or just about anything else that can support a hand or foot, the experienced trunker will find it. Of course, if you’re tall and the tree is short, you can simply hop up to the lowest branch. If you’re small but light, you can take a running jump, with a few steps on the trunk to help. The trunker looks past these shortcuts, sometimes choosing to start from a sitting position to make the route more difficult. And when the trees get bigger and the crown gets higher, the trunker will climb that as well. Trees pose a unique challenger for climbers, but they can be conquered. If you’re new to trunking and want some pointers on technique, look no further! (Link to techniques page once available).
As with all outdoor activities, trunking involves a certain degree of stewardship. If we don’t take care of the trees, they won’t be around for others to enjoy. Take a look at our trunking ethics page, and make sure not to climb on trees if they’re too young or your movements damage the bark.
If you want to know a little more about how trunking started, read my cheesy intro story for the OU Trunking Project. Otherwise, dive into this website for all your resources on trunking!
Bonus: Check out this video of Chris Sharma climbing redwood trees. He was trunking before it was cool!