Lofty ascents take merely seconds in speedy contest

George Tipping, 81, competing in the pole climbing championships at the Great Yorkshire Show.
George Tipping, 81, competing in the pole climbing championships at the Great Yorkshire Show.
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Amateur and professional climbers competed to scramble 80ft up wooden poles in a race against the clock at the showground.

Six competitors of varied climbing experience fought separate novice and expert classes.

The eldest of the six was 81-year-old George Tipping of Liverpool who showed that age need not be a barrier to lofty ambitions. He accomplished the ascent in 36.8 seconds.

Once at the peak, contestants hit a button to log their times, and it was David Whelan, 18, who was the speediest in the novice category, taking 12.1 seconds, and impressively his climb was the fastest, casting into the shade the quickest time recorded by expert Jonny Stableford from Scotland who tapped out at 29.06 seconds.

Competitors wore harnesses and were held in places by ropes. They wore boots with spikes at the toes to grip the wood. Many of the expert competitors tend to be involved in forestry careers which involve climbing trees as part of their jobs.

Forestry steward Will Richardson explained the appeal of the event: “It’s the challenge and being part of a competition that brings a rush of adrenaline and it’s a real crowd puller.

“It’s good fun and part of what we want to do at the show to show people the different aspects of forestry which is an important part of the countryside and looking after it.”