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LOGAN — There are times when Mark Malmstrom realizes he never really grew up. Malmstrom, who lives in River Heights near Logan, is a commercial arborist. He spends almost every day up a tree.
"We do pruning, tree pruning, removals, stump grinding, you name it,” said Malmstrom.
He has owned Total Tree Care for 15 years, but doesn't remember a winter as mild as this winter has been.
"We normally plan on some bad days and snow days, and there's been very, very few,” said Malmstrom.
Of course the nicer weather means more time to do work.
For Malmstrom, though, there is another benefit to the warmer temperatures — it gives him more time to practice.
"You just hope you can go in and perform well,” said Malmstrom with a smile.
Currently, Malmstrom is preparing for the International Tree Climbing Championships.
Yes, there is such a thing.
There are competitive tree climbers from 17 countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Sweden, and now, Utah has a tree climber, too.
Whether you're competing against someone or just competing against yourself, if you can come away and have a great climb, it's a wonderful feeling.
–Mark Malmstrom, professional tree climber
"It's really intimidating to get started because there are guys that are very, very good,” said Malmstrom.
He’s pretty good, too.
Malmstrom won Utah's tree climbing championships (yes, there is such a thing) four times in the past 14 years.
He has also competed in the world championship event before, which means now he knows what to expect.
“Time is a big factor, as well as proficiency, safety and innovation,” said Malmstrom.
He said he's not scared of heights because he trusts his equipment.
"No, I don't mind climbing. The falling part makes me nervous,” said Malmstrom with a laugh. “I have never fallen out of a tree, but I did fall off a ladder once. I think ladders are more dangerous than climbing with a rope.”
Malmstrom also loves talking to people about what he does, and he certainly draws a crowd when he starts climbing trees.
At the Logan Tabernacle where he was practicing, several people started watching him, pointing, and taking pictures.
"Tree climbing champion? Never heard of that,” said Allen Taylor of Logan. “But I’m glad to see it. He looks like a champion to me.”
Malmstrom would love to be the world champion, but more important to him, he wants to do well.
"Whether you're competing against someone or just competing against yourself, if you can come away and have a great climb, it's a wonderful feeling,” said Malmstrom.
The International Tree Climbing Championships will be held March 21-22 in Tampa, Florida.
There is also a Masters Challenge that looks at the overall skill of tree climbers.
"It is serious, but it's also a lot of fun. You get get to meet a lot of people, compare new techniques, and if you do well, you get free gear," said Malmstrom with a laugh.
Contributing: Mike DeBernardo