Climbing “The President”

Following on from my last post Hanging about in the tree tops (about climbing very big trees in South Africa), I wanted to share this story about scaling another forest giant. This time a giant sequoia (redwood) in the Sequoia National Park. It is a truly magnificent tree. The story appeared in the December 2012 edition of National Geographic. You can read an extract online, as well as see some of the photos there.

National Geographic Cover - Dec 2012

On a gentle slope above a trail junction in Sequoia National Park, about 7,000 feet above sea level in the southern Sierra Nevada, looms a very big tree. Its trunk is rusty red, thickened with deep layers of furrowed bark, and 27 feet in diameter at the base. Its footprint would cover your dining room. Trying to glimpse its tippy top, or craning to see the shape of its crown, could give you a sore neck. That is, this tree is so big you can scarcely look at it all. It has a name, The President, bestowed about 90 years ago by admiring humans. It’s a giant sequoia, a member of Sequoiadendron giganteum, one of several surviving species of redwoods.

Read more . . .

National Geographic has a wonderful short video (you may be able to watch it below) to give you a glimpse of what it took to climb and photograph this tree. What’s even more exciting (for me, anyway!) was that they climbed it while it was snowing. It looks so beautiful and peaceful.


Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Nature/Environment


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


Subscribe to the Notes from Africa RSS and Twitter feeds to receive updates.

13 Comments on “Climbing “The President””

  1. January 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    The photo of the climbers next to the tree is amazing – the tree is so huge they look like ants! Was that a camera they lifted to the top? It looked as big as a fridge!
    I hope they didn’t “hurt” the tree by climbing it.

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:03 am #

      Yes, I’d think it was the film camera. The reason they climb the ropes, and not the actual trees themselves is so they don’t damage the tree.

  2. January 23, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    This took my breath away too – what an unforgettable sight!

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:16 am #

      I’ve watched the video a couple of times! It is, as the one researcher said, almost too much to take in.

      • January 24, 2013 at 7:24 am #

        Yes, it sure is. He said it made one gasp – and it did!

  3. Colleen
    January 23, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    We are blessed to live close to these wonderful trees. Walking among them will be a memory I will forever cherish.

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:17 am #

      You’re very lucky to have seen these trees up close, and live in such a beautiful area.

  4. January 24, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    I was at the library this week and saw this issue of National Geographic on the shelf. I was totally drawn to it because the magazine has a pull-out gatefold of The President. You keep unfolding the pages until you have the whole tree in one shot. And then you can see the scale of the climbers next to the tree. They look like little ants next to a human being.

    Hard to believe that it is 3200 years old. 3200 years!!

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      Willie bought this National Geographic a couple of days before he went out with the tree climbers (in this post: Also though it neat how they did that fold-out photo. The President is about twice the size of the big tree they went up locally.

      It’s amazing that something can grow that old. And according to the NG article, still be growing. Puts human life into perspective, doesn’t it?!

  5. Eha
    January 24, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    I no longer get the ‘National Geographic’, so I truly thank you for bringing this to our attention! And being willing to travel outside South Africa’s wonders to teach and thrill! Shall share with others!

    • January 24, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      We don’t get the National Geographic regularly either, but Willie happened to see this edition just before he went out with the tree climbers in the previous post.

      I like to share things I find fascinating, so I’m glad when others feel the same way! 🙂

  6. January 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Truly an amazing series of shots. I`ve been there several times and it never fails to leave me in awe- as does the Grand Canyon. Never get sick of those two places.

    • January 26, 2013 at 8:29 am #

      Those are two of the places I’d really like to go to one day . . . I don’t know how often I’ve watched the National Geographic video now! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: