It was high summer when Ethan Schlussler decided to start hauling hand-milled cedar planks 30 feet up a tree with little more than brawn, bravery and a little bit of rope.
An avid climber of all things earthen, rock or tree-he wasn’t afraid of the height, nor would it be the first treehouse he’d ever built.
It would, however be the first time he built a tree house elevator.
“I didn’t want to do a ladder, I wanted to do something more interesting than a ladder,” Schlussler said.
It would also be the first time he’d ever have one of his YouTube videos reach over a million views.
If you were to browse through Schlussler’s video channel, you’d see evidence of a well-rounded young man. Each clip chronicles a new adventure: ice-cave building, slacklining (a cousin of tightrope walking, for those not in the know), and unicycling to name a few.
The channel doesn’t show you the wool fedora he crafted himself, or the places he visited the time he went backpacking across Europe, or his brief stint as a clown.
The channel doesn’t show you the years of experience he has in the construction industry, all the things he’s built with nothing but his own two hands. The channel doesn’t show you the uncanny ability he has that allows him to sit down and sketch out the numbers and shapes that are the blueprints to wonderful inventions and innovative designs.
“I’ve been building my own little projects here and there over the years ever since I was old enough to hold a hammer,” Schlussler said.
When you look at Schlussler’s treehouse, there is no element of design that is accidental. He’s thought of every thing- space to allow the tree to grow, custom self-made clamps to bind the foundation together, down to the reasons for why he decided to build his house in a Larch tree.
Although the bicycle elevator he owes his Internet notoriety to wasn’t an original part of the treehouse’s plan, he had originally been planning to feature an elevator in a different incarnation.
“I was thinking of doing a hand crank counter-weighted elevator thing,” Schlussler said. “I was throwing around ideas when my friend said ‘hey, why not try a bicycle.’”