Coffee Break [5/10/20]

It can be a struggle to get through the second half of the day.

If you think your job is rough be thankful you aren’t a palm tree trimmer. This video of a California arborist’s crazy ride sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole.

Not only is this career physically demanding, low paying, and scary as hell, it can be fatal.

Fronds can weigh hundreds of pounds each, and when they collapse, their combined weight can be as much as one ton. Just a few fronds can immobilize a climber and force his body against the palm trunk with hundreds of pounds of pressure. Much of that force lands on the climber’s head, forcing his chin into his chest, limiting his ability to breathe.

Enjoy Monday from the safety of your desk.



  1. First off, why climb a palm tree?  No reward!  All over Polynesia they have races climbing coconut trees & as a kid, I climbed many small ones.  They even have a Polynesian speed champion:

    If you ever go to Hawaii, it is worth it to indulge in one tourist trap run by the Mormons.  They used to do a tree climbing show:

    • That looks like a lot more fun, but still nuts. It’s not the climbing that’s dangerous for the arborists, they’re tied off, it’s the trimming. These guys deserve To get paid more.

  2. I live with palm trees. There’s some in my yard. We have LOTS of palm trees here. That said, the tree in that first video is the most insanely tall palm tree I’ve ever seen. That is ridiculously tall. Palm trees have a very shallow root structure (they are actually a type of grass, if memory serves) that rarely goes more than a foot or so into the ground. I don’t understand how that tree was still standing, particularly with a person on it. Leverage alone should have uprooted it. California clearly needs more hurricanes. Particularly during fire season. 

    • You have to wonder why they let it get so tall. And if they cut more of it back after taking the top off it. I never even thought about palm trees being trimmed until I saw this. And I watched a bunch of videos afterwards. It’s insanely dangerous.

      • I’m assuming it was being removed. Palm trees don’t grow back if the top is cut off like that — they need the fronds for chlorophyll. So you would normally start high and work your way down in small sections, unlike several of the idiots in MemeWeaver’s video below. I assume that’s what they wanted to do but the damn thing was too tall for a bucket truck. 
        Any tree removal is dangerous as hell. You really need to know what you’re doing, and preferably use a bucket truck or lift, instead of standing in the actual tree. If it’s taller than the average roof, call the professionals.

    • When we go to LA we stay in one specific hotel and get a suite with a balcony. All of these face some palm trees on the property (it’s not on the ocean.) One morning I was on the balcony and it was time to “trim the hedges.” I’d never seen anything like it. The landscapers would somehow scale the trunks and start chopping away. These trees were at least 100 feet tall, probably higher. I guess the palm fronds die and by cutting them away it allows for new growth and makes the whole thing more attractive. I don’t really have a fear of heights but the landscapers weren’t doing this out of a bucket truck, I can’t even remember them wearing any kind of harness. Maybe they were Samoans.

      • The fronds do die, and then they can harbor lots of things, like possums and raccoons and wasps and hornets and other creatures. Trimming them is usually asthetic, though. Typically only the ones at the top are green. Those smooth trunks are generally achieved (in developed areas) by cutting away the dead fronds. Palm trees at the beach can lose them through wind, and then the slim trunk offers a smaller “wind profile” to help them stay up during storms. The video doesn’t show the base of that tree, but I wonder if it was somehow anchored. 

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