Bradley Fork Tuliptree Climbed Will Blozan
  December 21, 2008


While many of you northerners were hunkered down in a snowy mess, Jess
Riddle, James Parton, Jason Childs and I went into the Bradley Fork
watershed yesterday to climb and tape-drop the super tuliptree Jess found in
2006. I lasered the tree this past September, and as it was a contender for
the tallest known specimen a climb was more than justified.

Bradley Fork GSMNP Sept 21, 2008

The heavy rains of the past week had Bradley Fork swollen to a formidable
torrent. Our usual crossing spot was underwater so we had to cross by other
means. Jess and I chose a slippery hemlock log, Jason rock-hopped and walked
across some toppled rhododendron, and James simply walked through. On the
way out we choose to walk upstream to a bridge.

 Jess crossing the log.

And James just crossing!

We hauled the gear up the cove to the tree. The first limb was 85 feet up
and the ground sloped so the initial line set was difficult without a
slingshot (which we should have brought.). Four LONG pitches later I made it
to 160 feet which was as high as I was comfortable going in the young tree.
Jason brought up a 17 foot pole with which I was able to reach the top for
the height determination. Jess scouted the other tops so we had the correct
one and we set the tape straight up and down.

Looking down from 160 feet. Jason is barely visible in white helmet.

Jason working his way up.

The final tape reading was 181.35 feet, just 7 inches less than my 181.9'
laser shot in the summer. I am still amazed at the accuracy of the low-cost
ENTS sine method. As a bonus, we discovered this tree has multiple tops over
180' and the highest recorded liana in the eastern US; Virginia creeper was
found to reach 166.5 feet!

View up into the highest top.

This climb confirms or solidifies several important current facts:

This tree is the tallest known tuliptree, and sole representative member of
the "180 Club"


Tuliptree is the tallest eastern hardwood

Tuliptree is the only hardwood in the east to break 180 feet tall

Tuliptree is currently the tallest native hardwood in North America

The motley crew: Will, Jason, James and Jess at the base of the tree

A tree of such significance needs an appropriate name. I'll leave that up to

Will F. Blozan

President, Eastern Native Tree Society

President, Appalachian Arborists, Inc.