Recreational/Technical Tree Climbing (RTC) uses ropes, saddles, and techniques proven safe for both climber and tree, to ascend into the crowns of trees and the canopies of forests for recreation, exploration, exhileration, education, research, exercise, and fun!
(video courtesy of Tree Climbing Colorado)
- Promote safe and environmentally respectful tree climbing practices for adventure, education, and fun.
- Be a unifying voice representing and supporting tree climbing organizations and individual tree climbers.
- Encourage the joyful experience of tree climbing for people of all backgrounds and abilities.
- Share the insight and unique connection to nature that can be found by exploring trees and the forest canopy.
GOTC Board & Council
Landon Yeti Smith - President
Landon is a tree climbing facilitator who has been climbing for nearly four years. He utilizes his skills working with state and county parks as well as arboretums measuring big trees and propagating new ash and elm trees from the upper canopy. He is also the owner of Treetop Escape, facilitating climbs with boy scout troops, geocachers and other GOTC members. Through tree climbing he hopes to bring both enthusiasm for trees and respect for nature to his community. Landon has worked as an electrician for 14 years and resides with his wife in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Curtis M Andrews - Vice President
For 30 years, Curt’s desire to study, care for, and connect with trees has fueled his career in arboriculture. His first ascent in 1995 as a climbing arborist had a lasting impact on both his professional career and personal journey.
Curt spends part of his week at his consulting/training business, providing technical support and training services for landscape professionals. In addition, he volunteers climbing services for research projects and appears on tree-health radio and podcast programs.
He started Treetop Explorer LLC in early 2016 to make recreational tree climbing more accessible across Wisconsin. He also runs the climbing program at House In The Wood camp for Chicago youth, facilitates part-time with Riveredge Nature Center, and volunteers with WI Arborist Association Kid’s Climbs.
Harv “Ponderosa” Teitelbaum - Treasurer
Harv is a Master Instructor who has been climbing for about 13 years. He and Abe Winters laid the groundwork for the first meetings in Colorado which led to the formation of the GOTC. His other current volunteer activities include working with the Sierra Club and the Jefferson County Public Library Association. When not in the trees conducting climbs or teaching climbers through Tree Climbing Colorado, he is on the faculty of Rasmussen College teaching Environmental Science courses. Harv has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Leadership & Ecopsychology. “Ponderosa" lives with his wife, Roberta "Hummingbird", and their two dogs, on 10 acres of ponderosa forest, on which he practices sustainable forestry.
New Zealander Paul McCathie lives on the Isle of Wight, UK, where he runs Goodleaf Tree Climbing with his wife, Abigail Fox. He trained as an Arborist at WINTEC, New Zealand, and graduated as Student of the Year in 2001. After working as a climbing Arborist in New Zealand, Australia and England, Paul set up Goodleaf in 2005. He is a Senior Instructor with the GOTC. He is also a Freelance Instructor and Assessor for tree climbing and aerial tree rescue for Lantra Awards, UK. Goodleaf is the only full time recreational tree climbing company in Europe and Paul is currently developing a suite of recreational tree climbing courses with Lantra Awards. Paul also works with a local charity to run Special Branch – woodland days for young people with disabilities.
Jody “WildRice” Rice
Jody Rice has been an employee of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources since 1999. He began tree climbing in 2003, and quickly started integrating these skills into GA State Parks and Wildlife Resources Division’s activities on canopy research, therapeutic and educational climbing, wilderness adventure and instruction. He is now a Master Instructor. Jody holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus on Outdoor Therapy and Counseling, and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Adventure Learning from Plymouth State University. He is the statewide coordinator for the Georgia Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program, and instructs individuals, groups and organizations in wildlife conservation, hunter development, wilderness survival, shooting sports and outdoor adventure skills. He is on the Georgia Search and Rescue Team and is a type 2 Firefighter. Jody has been part of resource management projects with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, Georgia Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation and Georgia’s Audubon IBA program.
“WildRice" enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Naomi, their two children, and their big, “insane goober” Labrador.
Abe “Ai" Winters - Ambassador/Council Chair
Abe Winters, an ex Special Forces S/Sgt of the Vietnam era, began tree climbing in 1988 and is the man behind Tree Climbing USA, which began as the Vision Of EYE (Experiental Youth Education) in February 1997. This grove (3rd in the USA) has grown from a singular focus on recreation to offering experiential, expeditional and adaptive opportunities, as well as accommodating those wishing to learn the Basic or Beyond the Basics Tree Climbing Courses, or desiring to start and maintain their own groves. Tree Climbing USA under Abe's leadership has taken more than 16,000 people climbing in its 14+ years. Abe was on the staff for the First Annual Panama rainforest Climb in January 2004 and in 2013 will be making his 8th Trek there. He began retiring in 2009 but remains active with the GOTC, which he helped start. He is married, has two daughters, two grandsons, and one great grand daughter, and still maintains his sanity to some degree.
- Chris Barkman The Bark Man
- Leonard “Woody” Fisher
- Eric Folmer
- Tim Lynch
- Bill “Wild Bill” Maher: Tree Trek Exploration
- Joe Maher: Tree Trek & Tree Climbers Coalition
- Guy Mott: Adventure Tree
- Richard Mumford
- Andrew “Flying Squirrel” Swannell
- Steve Waldorf: South Georgia Tree Climbing Association
Nicole Olalla nicole(at)gotreeclimbing.org
Landon Smith info(at)gotreeclimbing.org
About the GOTC Board
General: The GOTC Board was formed by interested individuals within the tree climbing community to steer the organization. The Board meets regularly to act on agenda items, discuss and formulate policy, and reach consensus and affirm by vote. A minimum of four Board members is required at a Board meeting to hold a vote or reach consensus. Board members may use the GOTC Council and mailing list to seek input, feedback, and consensus on matters before it. Board members are free to discuss GOTC agenda items individually with Board and Council members. Board members are encouraged to take on GOTC projects and individual Board members are encouraged to initiate projects in consultation with the Board. All Board meeting minutes are posted to the Board and Council email list.
Elections & terms: Board members are elected by vote of the general membership, including the existing Board and Council members, except in the case where the number of qualified candidates equals the number of open seats, in which case a formal election need not be held. Board members must be GOTC members, GOTC-recognized facilitators or instructors, and have at least one full year's experience facilitating or instructing.
Potential candidates can nominate themselves or have others nominate them with their consent, and with eligibility confirmed solely by consensus of the existing Board. Board members serve for a period of two years. Terms are staggered so that approximately half the Board members will stand for election in each calendar year. Elections will be held each year at the Annual Meeting, if possible, or at another similar date, date(s) to be determined by the Board. Voting will be done by secret ballot by those members voting at the Annual Meeting, or via email received prior to the voting end date, with results announced within 48 hours of the election.
Board members may be removed for actions deemed significantly harmful or counter to the mission of the GOTC, or by non-participation in Board activities and phone meetings for a consecutive period of at least 60 days, as determined by a unanimous vote of all other current Board members. In such an instance, or in the case of a Board vacancy for any reason, the Board will, at its discretion, appoint midterm replacement(s), to serve out the remainder of the term of the member being replaced, following the above specifications.
About the GOTC Council
General: The GOTC Board invites leaders from the tree climbing community to serve on the GOTC Council. Council members may advise the Board on their own initiative and may be requested to offer advice by the Board or individual Board members. Council members may request that agenda items be added to GOTC Board meetings. Council members may request to attend Board meetings or the Board may request that a Council member attend a meeting for direct input on an agenda item. Council members do not have a vote on the Board but their input has a strong influence on Board decisions. The Board may request that Council members take on GOTC projects and the Board encourages Council members to initiate projects in consultation with the Board. Council members receive all communications posted to the GOTC Board/Council email list and may in turn post to the mailing list.
Council members are not elected, but are invited by the Board to be members of the Council for one year, at the end of which time they may be invited to participate on the Council for an additional year. There is no limit to the tenure of Council members if invited and willing. The number of GOTC Council members will be flexible as determined by the Board. Council members must be current members of the GOTC. Those wishing to serve on the GOTC Council are encouraged to express that desire to a Board member.
Council members may be removed for actions deemed significantly harmful or counter to the mission of the GOTC, as determined by a 2/3 vote of the Board.