Linking culture and conservation in the Caura River Basin

New Level of Competition and Skill at 4th Palm Climbing Event

Friday, July 1, 2011
Planting the main competition poles
Practice Poles
Perfect form on the pole.

Organizers and competitors gathered at the base of Para Falls to once again learn and hone the climbing technique essential for sustainable fruit palm fruit harvests. Putting the 12-meter poles in the ground requires careful coordination of a group of men and a massive effort. This year, a series of shorter poles provided the opportunity for more practice. Right away, all eyes followed 2008 winner Jesus Shikoi, as he flew up his first practice pole. It was clear that he was still in fine form, despite being over 50 years old. But, for the first time since 2002, it quickly became clear that several competitors in their late teens and early 20s had now mastered traditional climbing technique. The younger man who lost to Shikoi in 2008, Vetulio Aziza, looked in fine form as well. Aid climbing gear, now assembled using very strong aluminum sleeves, was distributed to all 92 participants. Quite a number of them had come just to obtain and learn to use this gear, which makes climbing much easier.

The second and third days of the competition were spent in the forest practicing modern and traditional technique on Oenocarpus palms. Rain delayed the start of the two-by-two competition on the fourth day. This meant that the final round of six pairs was held at night, by headlamp. Competitors had to climb for distance over 8 minutes. The type of endurance required for this event is what enables climbers to safely harvest fruit many meters above the forest floor.

Careful pacing was required to win the competition, which is exactly what 2008 runner-up Vetulio Aziza used to win this year. Others started too fast and burned out, or simply could not use all of their time. At one point, Jesus Shikoi--among the most charismatic of the competitors--looked down from a rest on his 5th lap and chuckled at how exhausted he was.

Top 12 competitors:
1. Vetulio Aziza (82.5 meters climbed)
2. Eduwin Garcia
3. Luis Torres
4. Esteban Rodríguez
5. Jesus Shikoi (winner 2008)
6. Samuel Rodríguez
7. Alfonso Chaulan
8. Asiel Lopez
9. Eliberto Espinoza
10. Ronaldo Colina
11. Alto Asatali
12. Leonel Grafe