Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue training

Our tree climbing and aerial rescue (CS38) courses run regularly in North Yorkshire, ideal for ground-based tree workers looking to get into the trees, IRATA, landscapers and utility workers

Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue

(formerly CS38)

Whether you are looking to get started in the world of tree climbing and aerial rescue. Or you have been in the industry for years and years. There is always something new to learn that will help you get to where you want to be.

For those who have been working on the ground and are now looking to reach the dazzling heights within the tree canopies.

Tree climbing CS38 and aerial rescue combined course is one of the first steps you need to take whether that be as:

  • a budding arborist
  • a tree surgeon 
  • an ecologist (or if you’d prefer a more tailored course – Ecologists Tree Climbing)
  • or landscaper
  • a utility worker

Our 5-day tree climbing and aerial rescue course above all allows you plenty of time to learn to trust the climbing system. Along with carrying out all that you need for the assessment process on the 6th day.

The tree climbing CS38 course is one of the first courses you need to complete, to enable you to carry out aerial tree work. Furthermore, it is a legal requirement that anyone carrying out tree climbing operations must have a fully qualified aerial rescuer.  

Many of you are already actively carrying out tree climbing tasks. However, you may have discovered that as a professional operator you need a certificate of competence to enable you to carry on doing so and keep your insurance. 

You may have been asked by:
  • your membership body e.g. Arboricultural Association 
  • your employer
  • or a new contract opportunity to demonstrate competence through certification

Are you new to the job or been doing it for over 40 years and things have changed, if so and you are planning to gain your tree climbing CS38 qualification have you been:

  • Struggling to find the right fit in terms of a training provider?
  • Confused by all the names, numbers and acronyms for the land based courses that are available to you?
  • Worried you will get it wrong or waste your hard-earned money?
  • Concerned that it will feel like going back to school?
  • Looking to gain a qualification to continue with jobs because legislation has changed?
  • Offered a new and exciting contract, but need another ticket/qualification to seal the deal?

Then, tree climbers, arborists and tree surgeons we can help you!

No matter which sector you are coming from, and your level of experience. We can work with you to understand your training needs. To tailor a programme and provide courses that will be suitable for you.

Providing award-winning training through tailored, flexible, friendly, approachable trainers and assessors.

All courses run with small groups to ensure you have as much time as needed to learn and experience what is required for the assessments. Trainers and assessors undoubtedly have the experience, are friendly, and are approachable.

Finally, as with all Lowe Maintenance courses, you get support and advice via email or on the phone, if you need it in the future, just because you’ve completed the course doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch if you need more information or guidance.

City and Guilds accreditation

Is the certificate you will gain on successful completion of your tree climbing and aerial rescue assessment. 

A  five-day course, with a sixth day for the assessment, (usually on a Saturday).

Group sizes are no more than four candidates to one trainer, so nice small group sizes. To allow for plenty of discussion and questions. 

You will have access to the Lowe Maintenance portal on booking where you will find leaflets and updates to look through before attending the practical session. 

On this tree climbing course you will be learning about:

  • risks of tree climbing such as hazards you may come across on work sites
  • what you need to do in an emergency
  • how health and safety legislation will affect you, specifically in respect of the two-rope climbing system
  • identify an occupied tree, and signs of activity of birds, bats, squirrels, and wasps!
  • ascending the tree with and without mechanical aids
  • moving around the tree and branch walking
  • descending safely (not at high speed!)
  • various methods of aerial rescue including pole rescue. Training dummies are in place for all rescues on our courses (why on earth would you have unqualified people carrying out rescues on each other! It really doesn’t bear thinking about). 
An exciting extra for you is getting to try out different climbing systems and equipment such as:
  • hitch climbers
  • spider jacks
  • captain hooks
  • foot ascenders

before you think about buying them and find you do not like them. This a fantastic chance to try before you buy!

Also, a huge bonus for you is that you can hire one of our climbing kits at no extra cost! You just need to bring your arborist climbing helmet.
Because we firmly believe how do you know what to buy or what you like. As you’ve not done the course yet!

Bear in mind that this course is physically demanding and requires the carrying of equipment in woodland and countryside environments. You will have to carry the kit and equipment, you have been issued.   

Candidate portal

On booking your course you will be given access to the candidate portal, where you will find lots of leaflets and documentation to read through, ideally before you attend the course. This helps you with the terminology during the course and gives you a heads-up of what to expect in any discussions and practical sessions. There are even some videos we need you to watch to help embed your learning in preparation for your assessments. 


The tree climbing and aerial rescue training is five days, and on a sixth day (usually a Saturday), you will be assessed by an independent City and Guilds assessor. 

We may be stating the obvious and it is sad that we have to be saying this as it appears it is not common practice. 

When attending a course with us, you must follow any instructions that are given when using any equipment and carrying out tasks, for the safety of all involved. 

For further details please see our terms and conditions for courses.

Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue
CS38 Video Testimonials

Other courses of interest to you



There are several systems to climb trees and there is no requirement to be built like a brick privy. We do taster days and introductory sessions by arrangement so you can have a play in a tree before you book for a course so that you have an idea of how physical it can be. You will also be using an ascender on day two of the course to help you access the tree. 

We advise candidates to come and have a go before they book on a course. As it is not for everyone and it is best to try a little bit before you book. So, feel free to get in touch and arrange an introductory session. We would certainly recommend that ecologists had a practice first before booking on a tree climbing CS38 course. A good arborist makes tree climbing look very easy!

There are a lot of tickets in the industry so it’s not easy to say. However, there are a lot of companies out there who will give you a long list that would cost a lot of money. You need to consider that your ability and knowledge should grow as a tree does, slowly and surely.

To get you going and working then chainsaw maintenance and cross-cutting 20-03 (formally CS30) and felling and processing trees up to 380mm 20-04 (formally CS31). Safe use of manually fed wood chipper, these will get you started and into the world of arb. You can then progress onto the climbing units such as tree climbing and rescue 20-13 (formally CS38), this steady building of certificates will give you an idea about the industry and chance to work of the expense. However, it is not just about the short course qualifications, it is advisable to book on an arboricultural course such as the RFS, be it online or at a local college, to learn about the science behind the trees.

There is nothing to stop you using them but courses are normally run using the basic friction devices as not everyone can afford these more expensive pieces of equipment. Having a standard system during the training makes the rescue situations easier to understand, however, if you are going to use lock jacks and spider jacks it is extremely important everyone in your team understands how to use them.

The main knots used throughout the training course with Lowe Maintenance are:

  • Bowline
  • Blake’s hitch
  • Prussic
  • Lark’s foot
  • Stop knot

Personal tree climbing equipment is supposed to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It should be inspected on a 6-monthly basis by an independent person. This period cannot be extended but may be shortened due to the working environment or specific requirements of the site you are working on.

If you are working on the ground there is no problem using a forestry helmet with a chin strap but in the air, it is not allowed, you must wear a climbing helmet.


You are advised by HSE to have a refresher every 5 years, this however depends on the company you work for, as some have different regulations for refreshers such as National Trust which is every 3 years.

There are several ways for you to practise the knots before the course, these include:

  • YouTube
  • Tree climber’s companion book
  • Knots 3D app
  • and in addition the amazing Lowe Maintenance candidate portal

There is no requirement to use a chainsaw in a tree during the climbing course, that however does come later in the using a chainsaw from a rope and harness (formally CS39). That’s when you’ve passed the tree climbing and aerial rescue (formally CS38).

There are lots of very good female tree climbers; women often have a very good muscle to body weight ratio and are methodical in their work so there is certainly no reason why not. Women currently climbing in the industry include Boel Hammarstrand, Rachel Smith, Eva-Maria Mauz and Annalize Wright to name just a few.

There are a number of leaflets about this, one is provided by the Bat Conservation Trust ‘How are trees important to bats’. If you look at their website you will be able to download lots of good information. You should arrange a tree survey if you are worried, just to be sure. 

It is hard to describe the best harness as every person is built differently and really you need to try before you buy. This is easier said than done but if you ask around you may get some good answers. A very important point to note is once you have bought your harness you must fit it correctly, there are lots of straps and buckles that need fitting specifically to you. We have several different harnesses for people to use on Lowe Maintenance’ tree climbing courses. You can see which feels better for you, this will help you to make an informed decision.

This is not good practice but it is also not that easy to spot an occupied tree.

If you know it to be occupied, then the answer is no as you may disturb the roost and that can be a bit expensive in the form of court actions and possibly your professional reputation.

That is up to you and your confidence levels. If there is a problem, you will have to explain to the insurance company why you were up a tree on a particularly windy day.

Yes, there is no reason why not. The tree may be a bit more slippery and you may have to adapt the climb to the conditions but there is no reason why you can’t.

A double-action karabiner means it has two motions to close the gate and make it secure, these are easily opened and have been known to open due to rubbing on the trees and branches.

This is why they should not be used as part of the life anchor points in the climbing system.

The triple-action has three motions to close the gate. Furthermore, the triple-action is the only karabiner to be used as part of the life anchor point as it is harder to open accidentally.

No, you only need to wear a pair of work trousers and stout work boots with ankle support. You can if you want to or if the weather is a bit cold but there is no chainsaw use so, therefore, no need for cutting pants.

It is advisable that you have another climber on-site in case something goes wrong. It takes time for the emergency services to respond, that second climber can get to you quicker and shorten the time it takes to get proper help. Most noteworthy is that your insurance company will want you too!

The branch size depends on the characteristics of the tree and its condition. The branch must be strong enough to take lateral forces as well as supporting the climber. On the tree climbing course, you shouldn’t suspend yourself from branches less than 4” in diameter.

SRT is Stationary Rope Techniques or Static Rope Techniques, this is a method of accessing and working a tree using mechanical aids to climb. It can make climbing a lot easier but requires a good understanding of rope systems and equipment.

There are several things you could read. The Tree Climber’s Companion and The Arboricultural Association’s A Guide to Good Climbing Practice

It is advisable for your personal growth to learn more about trees and their characteristics. Especially with the number of pests and diseases that are about these days. We need to improve our biosecurity in general.

The Arboricultural Associations Guide to Climbing Practice has a list of the equipment you need. The number of pieces is down to you and your budget.

Be careful as it is easy to buy too much and buy lots of shiny bling that you may never use. If you attend a course with Lowe Maintenance, you will know what to buy by the end of the course as you’ll have used our kit during the course.

Ropes are like harnesses; the choice is down to personal feel. The average rope is 10mm to 13mm diameter although 12mm to 13mm is more commonly used as they are easier to grip and less chance of hand strain. The smaller diameter ropes are used mainly with mechanical aids and, depending on the item you use, as a friction component. The manufacturer may state a rope diameter, which you should follow for your own safety.

It depends on the tree and the distance between the branches, there is no easy answer, ideally, you need to get as high as you can so that you can carry out effective branch walking.

It is a strong recommendation that anyone working with a chainsaw should have some level of first aid training due to the increased potential for an accident.

HSE advise that you practise at least once a month. If you require an aerial rescue refresher give us a call to arrange a suitable date.

You can do them both together but if you fail the CS38 assessment you cannot take the CS39. As a result, it can get rather expensive. We believe it is far less stressful for you to do them as individual units and that way they get plenty of practice in between courses. 

If you have never been in the air before it is advisable to take the full course and allow yourself plenty of time to get as much practice as possible, ready for the assessment. However, there are no guaranteed passes. If you have been climbing for a while, then the course can be modified to meet your needs and possibly completed over fewer days of training.

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