Wednesday 21 February 2018

Have you got a good head for heights?

A WHOPPING 82 feet tall, they tower above the Heathpark countryside and are visible from miles around. And believe it or not, next week you'll be able to see people climb all the way to the top in just ten to fiteen seconds, as the Husqvarna All-Ireland Pole Climbing Championship takes place.

Speed, stamina, upper and lower body strength, and of course a head for heights are all a must for the competiors - and if you think you have what it takes, you'll be able to have a go at climbing too, outside of the official competition. Just wander along, sign up, and go through the training, before launching your aerial assault.

The championships themselves will see the participation and support of Welsh, British, European and World title holders, including the 2012 UK Tree Surgeon Champion David Teasdale; the 2012 British Champion Ian Flatters; the 2011 All-Ireland Tree Surgeon Champion Joe Wilson, and current World Champion Matthew Thomas.

The poles themselves come from Douglas Fir trees, which were erected using a 100-foot crane. The full length of the poles is 96 feet - 82 of which protrudes above ground after they are anchored 14 feet into the earth itself. Climbers use a strop around the top of the pole for support and spikes on their shoes for grip, with two going at a time in a race to the top. All climbs are accurately timed too, with the timer being started by a pressure pad at the bottom and stopped by a climber hitting a button at the top, and competitors next week will be aiming to break the current record for an 80-foot climb, which currently stands at an amazing 9.07 seconds and which is held by Grant Gallier of the UK.

This is the second time for the Pole Climbing Championships to be held in conjunction with the National Ploughing Championships, after last year's inaugural competition attracted great interest from the crowds, several publications, and RTE, who featured the event on 'Nationwide'. This year's instalment is bound to attract just as much interest - and who knows, if you discover you have a knack for it, you might even be back to compete yourself next year!

Other attractions lined up by Husqvarna include 'The Axe Men' - a demonstration where skilled professional axe men will put on a choreographed show for the public on several occasions over the three days of the Ploughing Championships.

There will also be a demonstration of 'demolition robots' - which are a real cross between useful tools and 'big boys toys'!

It will all be at the Husqvarna stand at U685. It'll be one of the easiest stands to find on the entire site - because it'll be the one with the two 82-foot poles standing beside it!

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