Review published on July 3, 2018.
It has been a long while since I climbed a tree, but in my childhood, I spent a fair amount of time climbing and occasionally falling out of trees. There were one or two that were particularly good to climb or hide in and several that we tried and failed at. To reach the top of a small tree felt like an achievement, even though the heights weren’t that high, it felt like you were on the top of the world. James Aldred began the same way, climbing trees in the New Forest until, at the age of 17, he went with two friends to ascend using rigging and climbing gear to climb a tree where the lower branches were totally out of reach from the ground. At this point, he was hooked and knew what he wanted to do.
Now he climbs trees that are over 150ft high using high-tech equipment, taking up cameras and assisting the wildlife cameramen for the BBC and others that are looking to film what goes on up in the canopies of the global forests. With some other expert climbers, he has ascended one of the highest trees in the world, peeking above the treeline around 300 feet up. The risks are enormous, one mistake and it is all over, but it is a job that he loves with a passion. It has taken him to forest all around the world, he has seen animals that have enthralled and amazed him, slept out under the stars many times, been bitten alive by all manner of insects and in one very scary moment was attacked by a harpy eagle. He wouldn’t change it for the world though.
Aldred has been very fortunate to work with some of the very best in the wildlife film industry and the stories that he tells in this book will enthral and entertain you. I am not too bad with heights, but some of the trees Aldred climbs are quite staggering, though the thought of sleeping in the canopy, very securely strapped in, of course, does appeal quite a lot. It is a book that can be categorised in a few ways, but definitely, a book that is worth reading.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Man Who Climbs Trees by James Aldred
WH Allen 9780753545881 pbk Jun 2018
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