A view from the top

Wyatt Cornell


I have always loved climbing trees, using rope and tying knots. I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. As I’ve grown up some things I have come to enjoy are using a chainsaw, engineering and critical thinking.

The summer before sixth grade I was climbing a big white pine at my grandpa’s house. I had built a self-powered elevator that I wanted to install and test in that tree. I was about 25 feet in the air when the branches I were on snapped and I plummeted all the way down to the ground.

My leg hurt pretty badly so I had my grandpa take me to the hospital. He called my parents to have them meet us there. After some x-rays, I learned that I had broken my leg and that I would need a cast.

I had a cast and couldn’t get around to do much for about three months. During that time I had plenty of time to do research.

I read lots of articles and watched tons of YouTube videos on climbing with ropes. I learned different types of climbing like double rope technique (DRT) and single/stationary rope technique (SRT), along with basic techniques for each.

I decided that I wanted to use SRT to climb, so I started researching the equipment I would need to get. My goal was to spend as little money as possible but still be safe and not break something again.

Once I was out of my cast I ordered some equipment. The way I planned on using my equipment at first was as more of a backup system to climb. I designed it to catch me if I were to fall as I made my way up the tree.

I did that for a few months, but before long I got bored. I wanted to upgrade my equipment to something that I could use to climb a tree without any branches that I could reach from the ground.

The second round of equipment I ordered satisfied my needs for a few years. I used it as a way to get into the tree and as the backup system.

After I got bored with that, I decided I needed another upgrade. I replaced everything I owned to more comfortable and functional items, as well as adding more advanced items than I had before.

Some of the items I got in my most recent order were a handsaw, a chainsaw and climbing spikes. These items opened many doors for me.

With this new equipment, I am now able to climb trees for fun much more efficiently and comfortably. This was not my main motivation behind this purchase, however. My main motivation was to make money.

My plan was to start a tree removal service. I would specialize in removals in tight spaces near houses or playsets.

The first tree I cut down was a 50-foot red pine, which was leaning towards the shed next to it. I climbed up, cutting branches down on my way up until I got about 15 feet from the top.

I then started to cut the top off of the tree. This is called “topping.” The reason you do this is to save time and energy climbing and cutting. It is also safer because the tree is much bigger around where you top it than it is higher up.

After I topped the tree I started to chunk the tree down. To do this you climb down however long you want your logs to be and make a cut. If you have some room to work and are cutting a smaller diameter tree, you can leave the logs in 100” sections. If the area is a little tighter or you are cutting a larger diameter tree you can cut them into 16” sections.

The last thing I did to finish the tree removal was to remove the stump. I used a mini excavator to pull the stump out and fill the hole in with dirt.

After I become more experienced with my technique, I plan to design a business model and start developing a customer base. I would eventually like to expand into selling by-products of the business, such as wood chips, mulch and firewood.

Wyatt Cornell is a junior at Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH). He has been an avid tree climber since he was very young. Some things that he enjoys to do besides climbing are engineering and critical thinking.