I reckon I’m about 20 metres off the ground here. The person further up is probably at around 30 metres – I can just about see them through the leaves and twigs that are falling down onto my head. I sense that I’m sending my own amount of debris onto the people below, but I’m not going to look down to check as I’m slightly concerned about the knot in front of me. Actually, that’s an understatement – I’m greatly concerned about the knot in front of me. This tangled material that my life depends on, which is somehow arranged so that I can pull myself up the rope without sliding down it (yet), looks like it’s getting loose – like it’s kind of unravelling.
“Is my knot supposed to look like this?” I yelp to a woman dangling above me. No reply. “Excuse me, does this look OK to you?”. She casts a confused look back at me. “I do not understand. English not good,” she replies. Great.
“I think I finally get what people mean by ‘Type 2 fun’ now…”
I’ve trad climbed before, and I wasn’t very good at it. Tree climbing is something new, and I’m getting the sense I’m not very good at this either. Here I am on the southern tip of Sweden, a long, long way up a beech tree. I guess you could say this is one of those, ‘how did I get here’ moments.
Logistically speaking, getting here was actually rather easy. First, my partner Hannah and I got a flight from London Gatwick to Copenhagen airport. From there we jumped on a 30 minute train to Sweden across the huge 8km-long Øresond Bridge, and then, after a very short bus journey from Malmö station we were with Kristina, a former biomedical analyst turned arborist and now tree climbing guide with Embla. We’d gone from the rush and noise and smog and moody tube passengers of London to the wilderness of Sweden in a single morning. It was a strange, almost bewildering contrast in such a short time.
The area is Skåne, a small province with three coastlines and a varied interior where you’ll find open, flowing countryside and areas like Söderåsen National Park that are made up of sprawling beech woodland. Those into the niche sport of tree climbing are certainly spoilt in this part of Sweden.