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World's tallest tropical tree discovered and climbed in Malaysian Borneo (nationalgeographic.com)
111 points by Sujan 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

FYI: The world's tallest known tree (alive) is named Hyperion, in the Californian Redwood National Park.[1]

Its location is kept a secret, but it's rumored that if you know the right dendrologist, they might take you on a hike to it....

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperion_(tree)

For more about giant trees in California, read The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. It's a fascinating story of redwood tree researchers, and reads almost like a novel.

This site claims to have photos, GPS coordinates, and hiking directions to Hyperion: http://famousredwoods.com/hyperion/ ...is that the correct tree?

My experience of the redwoods (the coastal redwoods in Humboldt county) is that they are SOOOO tall in the tallest groves that "tallest tree" is just incomprehensible. From the ground, the treetops are lost in the mist and fog. From 350' away, you can't really see which one is five feet taller than the other. So unless named trees are marked somehow, they're just... awe-inspiring giant trees.

I'm actually headed there late this summer. Going to try and do a big loop from the White Mountains to see some old Bristlecone Pines (no I do not know where Methuselah is), up to Redwood National Park to see Hyperion for the finale.

Redwood National Park is amazing - one of the best parks IMHO. Walking along these trees is a humbling experience. Jedediah Smith area is highly recommended

im planning on spending a few days up there relaxing, camping, hiking, and checking out some giant trees.

Ok the story about being covered by stinging bees and having to repel down (with the bees still stinging) is pretty much my worst nightmare.

You must be a creative dreamer.

Nice article, but unfortunate hyperbole:

  climbs one of the potential candidates for the world's tallest tree
At 330 feet it's hardly a match for the world's tallest trees. California redwoods routinely clock 370 feet and 330 is quite an ordinary occurrence you can see on quick accessible hikes

“Tropical tree”, not claiming to be tallest amongst all trees.

"If you fall unconscious whilst climbing a tree the chest harness prevents you from slumping into a safe position—head lower than heart. An unconscious climber in that position has only three minutes or so to survive and that means the ground team must quickly get them down using an emergency extra rope."

Does anyone know why they don't use a chest harness that slumps you into a safe position? Or why falling unconscious is common enough to mention it?

It's not common, but it's dangerous. The technical term is suspension trauma. I climb solo quite often, and had to make my peace with the fact that if something comes down from above and knocks me unconscious, it could very likely be fatal.

I'm not sure it's accurate to say that hanging upside down is any better if a climber is incapacitated. As a practical matter, a saddle that was trying to continually flip you over would drive a climber crazy.

There's a bit of debate in the climbing community about the importance of suspension trauma, and how long you have before you need to worry about it during a rescue.

I'm not sure I understand why the tree had to be climbed to be measured. Isn't that what trigonometry is for?

Yes, and no. Trigonometry works if trees grow with a habit which matches the assumptions of a right triangle.

Before laser rangefinders were cheap and accessible, the method used (angle and an approximation of horizontal distance) would often grossly overestimate the height of the tree.

The modern sine method is much better, but still had problems with leaning trees, and will tend to underestimate height.

The most reliable method is to get someone up there and do a tape drop.


Seems like a great job for a drone.

You could use a theodolite. But remember that the ground is not flat. So you need to measure the vertical difference in height from the base of the tree to the theodolite. And you need to measure the horizontal distance, which would require other measurements in other locations. And you need a location where you can clearly see the top of the tree. This is all a bit complicated for someone without topographic surveying experience.

A tape measure is simple and easy to do accurately. And of course they will want to climb the tree anyway.

Reading about this tree climber, I noticed how when he used the word angiosperm, I was surprised by his intelligence, as if being a tree climber is something less intelligent people do. I'm ashamed of that. And, to see how dedicated he is to protecting forests and coming from such humble beginnings, it made me further ashamed of my privilege and what I'm using it for. This community on HN talks a lot about "changing the world": this guy is doing it, truly, in such an important and unrecognized way.

It states in the article that guy is "an arborist and research assistant with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership." Angiosperm is a word most of non-arborists and research assistants have come across, even if we don't know precisely what it means. Were you really surprised that a professional in a particular field knew the basic jargon of said field?

Here is a definition of arborist if you are interested.

"An arborist, tree surgeon, or (less commonly) arboriculturist, is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants in dendrology and horticulture. "


Also, what privilege are you ashamed of exactly? That type of self-flagellating virtue signaling is very toxic for your well-being and the people around you. I hope you are aware of that.

I didn't read the article carefully at first and missed that part. Sorry, I'll add that my list of character flaws. Thanks for all the expertise you offered here.

People from poor backgrounds generally are less educated and have smaller vocabularies. You just shouldn't confuse that for a lack of intelligence.

Smaller vocabularies in some areas. Probably much richer in some others. As an example, I'll cite one of my favorite passages from Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel:

One day, when my companions of the Fore tribe and I were starving in the jungle because another tribe was blocking our return to our supply base, a Fore man returned to camp with a large rucksack full of mushrooms he had found, and started to roast them. Dinner at last! But then I had an unsettling thought: what if the mushrooms were poisonous? I patiently explained to my Fore companions that I had read about some mushrooms' being poisonous, that I had heard of even expert American mushroom collectors' dying because of the difficulty of distinguishing safe from dangerous mushrooms, and that although we were all hungry, it just wasn't worth the risk. At that point my companions got angry and told me to shut up and listen while they explained some things to me. After I had been quizzing them for years about names of hundreds of trees and birds, how could I insult them by assuming they didn't have names for different mushrooms? Only Americans could be so stupid as to confuse poisonous mushrooms with safe ones. They went on to lecture me about 29 types of edible mushroom species, each species' name in the Fore language, and where in the forest one should look for it. This one, the tanti, grew on trees, and it was delicious and perfectly edible.


Neat, huh?

The modern arborist has a large knowledge base, an antiquidated term is "tree surgeon" - I find it to be quite apt. "Angiosperm" isn't an exotic word at all to the vast majority of tree folk.

In the US, the typical path to become a certified arborist will require a degree (typically associates) in arboriculture, horticulture, or forestry, and several years of direct experience.

The word 'angiosperm' here is a key to understand the idea. This is not the tallest tree alive, but is the tallest flower bearing tree registered alive. At least for some time. They should have discussed it extensively before to make the announcement.

I bet that a drone could do the measuring job also.

> I bet that a drone could do the measuring job also.

Yes, if you cut down all the trees around it ...

Yes, people sometimes give into stereotypes. Blame culture and society. Just be smart enough and realize that not everything is as it seems.

Playing devil's advocate for a second: If you really think about it, if everyone blindly accepted everything all the time , think how boring life would be. Sometimes not putting two and two together makes the discovery much more interesting. I like a fun surprise every now and then.

What does using the word angiosperme have to do with intelligence? I used to work in finance and those guys used all the same words I used: algorithm, runtime, microservice, you name it, but none of them had the foggiest idea what any of it meant.

There's no correlation at all between vocabulary used and intelligence. More intelligent people will actually use a smaller vocabulary if anything.

There is a strong correlation between vocabulary and intelligence though. It's why there is a vocabulary element to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale. I really doubt that most intelligent people use a smaller vocabulary because it's inefficient when compared to using more specialized words. You can convey more meaning to people with similar levels of understanding in fewer words.


Yes declarative knowledge is totally overrated. Procedural knowledge is the hard part.

I think the "elites", who are of lower intelligence[1] and only fit for parroting half understood declarative knowledge, have successfully managed to manipulate public opinion that declarative knowledge is superior to actually knowing how something works.

[1] They have high psychological/manipulative intelligence though, which is needed to convince others to do the actual work.

I'm always cautious about making assumptions of "intelligence" from the outside, for people who have expertise or experience that I don't have.

Back in the Reagan days, it came out that his presidential decision-making process for most things was to get it on a one-page memo with a yes/no checkbox. Boy howdy, did we have a lot of fun mocking that idiot who didn't know what he was signing! A lifetime later, I've come to realize that was a brilliant strategy on his part. He didn't waste time on deep study of every little thing that needed his decisions all the time. He surrounded himself with trusted advisors who could neatly sum up the pros and cons for him, so he could focus on the decision, not the analysis.

I thought Reagan was an idiot, because I was an idiot.

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