FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – Chips of tree bark scattered like sawdust in the chilly wind west of Fort Collins as men with ropes and spiked shoes scurried up 50 feet of tree trunks in a matter of seconds.
Chuck Gesme, a forestry junior from the University of Montana, blazed up his tree in 11.3 seconds.
“These poles are stickier than what I’m used to,” he said, noting that he averages closer to 10 seconds.
He and teammates from Missoula, Mont., along with competition from other schools as far away as Oregon and Arizona, recently converged for the annual Choptoberfest hosted by the Colorado State University logging team.
Light snowflakes fell as up to 75 people participated in the event. Some kept warm near fire barrels while others handled logs with gloved hands. Ax-throwing, log-tossing and an obstacle course were featured.
When asked what was at stake, many people said they weren’t sure. A couple said they were excited to get some tank-tops that said “beast” on the back.
The logging sports scene is “laid back and friendly,” as people realize it’s an unusual event where enthusiasts want “everyone to come in and have a good experience,” said Sara Williams, 25, a CSU freshman.
But despite the good-natured camaraderie, the competitors don’t take these events lightly.
Scott Williams, a CSU forestry management major and Sara Williams’ husband, said he practiced three times per week. He said the group would “like to have more support” and has about 12 to 15 competitors.
Steve Linstrom traveled from Marshall, Minn., to watch his son James compete.
“Everything except for the weather’s been great,” Steve Linstrom said.
James, a history sophomore at Colorado State University, and others used axes to shape cottonwood logs for the chopping competition. Linstrom said his son previously won both a beer stein and a buck-knife at a California competition.
Across the competition area, people threw 3-foot segments of logs in a game similar to horseshoes. Sara Williams said the logs in the “pulp toss” are thrown to land between two posts, and points are accrued for tosses in the target area. The winner is the person who gets to 21 points the most quickly.
“I think it’s really cool. I’ve always been athletic, so I like something new and challenging,” Sara Williams said of logging competition.
– By Robert Allen, The Coloradoan
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)