Tree Climbing

By Will Owen /// Staff Writer

If you’ve ever looked up from your iPhone while walking around campus, you’ve probably seen some of the beautiful trees Lewis & Clark has watching over us.

Climbing trees is one of the most fun and rewarding ways for us to interact with nature.

Humans have climbed trees for recreation and utility for thousands of years. We have used them to gain altitude, see great distances, pick fruit and seek shelter.

Tree climbing is even encoded in our DNA. You know when you’re almost asleep and you’re jolted awake by a feeling of falling? Scientists speculate that that reflex — known as a hypnic jerk — has its origins in our tree-dwelling evolutionary ancestors. They theorize that it immediately awakened us in case we started falling out of the tree that we were sleeping in, and this trait has remained with us ever since.

Tree climbing is undeniably human, so why not go enjoy what this campus has to offer? Here’s a list of a few of my favorite trees to climb on campus:

“The Blue Nug”


Difficulty: 3/5

This beautiful fir is situated right in the heart of South Campus. It’s pretty old and beaten up and has lots of dead branches. There are two rope seats installed at the top for anyone with enough will to make it all the way up. It’s fairly difficult to get up because the bottom branch is hard to reach, but the view of Lake Oswego is well worth the climb.

“The Chemis-tree”


Difficulty: 1/5

Right next to Olin, this large conifer offers an easy climb up to a gorgeous view of Sellwood and SE, as well as a little peek into the buildings of downtown Portland.

“That Bitchin’ Sequoia”


Difficulty: 2/5

Towering over Frank Manor House, this amazing monster of a tree even has a plaque! Its bottom branches are a little tough to get over, but once you get past those the climb up to the top is easy. It provides a great perspective of campus, allowing a view of both the residential and academic sides from above.

“The Tree-SA”


Difficulty: 1/5

It’s named so because the bike station next to it used to be a DSA. Couched next to the Howard dorm, it’s an extremely easy climb. This large cedar is a great place to hang out, with lots of branches that are great to lean on. I give this tree five stars for beginners.

Honorable Mentions:

– Giant Douglas fir right behind Hartzfeld, near entrance to Holmes. Difficulty: 4/5

– Sequoia behind J.R. Howard. Difficulty: 4/5

– Largest tree on South Campus, HUGE pine behind the chapel. Difficulty: 6/5

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