High adventure in Oregon

Sunset  –  June 1, 2005

“You can’t believe what a different world it is up here!” the guide shouts from above as he rigs the ropes for a side-by-side ascent of an ancient 200-foot Douglas fir. Eugene, Oregon-based Pacific Tree Climbing Institute is at the forefront of a growing recreational tree-climbing movement in the West. Equipped with harnesses, helmets, and the Forest Service’s inaugural tree-climbing outfitter’s permit, the institute’s guiding staff knows just how to get first-timers up a tree. With the help of a mechanical ascender, guides and novice climbers creep up ropes like inchworms into the forest canopy. Not 20 feet up, even acrophobes turn believers: Sun warms the skin, insects buzz faintly, and it smells like Christmas. And eating a sandwich at 190 feet forever redefines “dining with a view.” From $75 for a half-day, $500 for two days, including meals and a night in a special tree hammock. www.pacifictreeclimbing.com or 541/461-9410. ―Bonnie Henderson

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