LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-- High up in the branches of Central Park trees in Louisville, you might find more than squirrels and birds.
On occasion you will see arborist and professional tree climber Cory Petry either doing some pruning or practicing.
"It's a lot more fun to take a swing,” he said going from one branch to the next and cutting off dead limbs.
Petry got into the world of professional tree climbing through an arborist job. A sociology major in college, Petry chose the business of trees because, well a job was available, but also it didn't require a cubicle.
“It had a lot of the parameters I was looking for,” he said. “It was outside, it was different, there was creative problem solving which was a huge component and is still one of my favorite aspects."
The work of climbing, pruning and moving from branch to branch takes so much athleticism that about 40 years ago arborists began the International Tree Climbing Championships.
Of course in a group of creative, eccentric people, there is an unusual story to the games inception.
"Actually they all started at one company in California where it was their annual company picnic,” Petry explained. “They did this, you know, as their version of playing horseshoes at their company picnic."
There are five preliminary rounds of the competition. The competitors with the highest point totals move on to the Masters challenge, where they compete for the tree climbing title.
"This will be my fourth trip to internationals but my third as the State Champion,” Petry said. “It's a game that professionals play. A lot of the skills that they're going to gauge at the competitions are really skills that are only going to happen in the professional world."
But even the pros encounter some of the same dangers that you may remember facing as a kid scaling the low branches.
"This past Friday I was going up into a tree and I got into a nest of bald faced hornets,” says Petry with a scowl. “So I've got a couple of stings on my ear and that swelling has finally gone down."
The International Tree Climbing Championships are this weekend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Petry hopes to finish in the top 20 overall, or maybe even in the top five in some of the specific disciplines. When it comes down to it, though, he has one main objective: to have fun.
"Usually my goal is just to go have a good time, hopefully do Kentucky proud and represent well, and not come home with any broken bones so I can go back to work on Monday," he said laughing.
The Kentucky Tree Climbing Championship is held annually and the winner goes on to represent the state at the International competition. This year's Kentucky championships will be held at Clark Park in Louisville on October 18th.
The event is free to the public and for more information go to: http://www.ky-isa.org .