One weekend in July 2016, AFA photographer TJ Watt joined a team of professional tree climbers and researchers in the Carmanah Valley to assist UBC Forest and Conservation Sciences Student Vincent Hanlon in his somatic mutation research (see the results here).

The climbing team, consisting of James Luce, Matthew Beatty, and Ryan Murphy, used low-impact rope techniques to access and sample the highest possible new growth points in each tree, record specific sample location data, and measure both the sample height and ultimate tree height. Over 7 days, they ascended 23 Sitka spruce trees that averaged heights of 75 meters or 250ft, with the tallest (and largest by volume) measuring 84 metres tall. Photos were captured in the Randy Stoltmann Grove.

Thank you to Vincent Hanlon, Jon Degner and Sally Aitken at UBC Forestry for this rare and extraordinary opportunity and to the climbers for once again making access to this rarely-seen world possible.