I have an 80-foot tapered, free-standing tower and because of the
taper I have for years had a problem with my positioning lanyard. It
was either too long or too short, depending on what height I was on
the tower. My tower is about twelve feet in circumference at the
bottom but less than four feet at the top. What I have been doing is
carrying three different lanyards and changing them as necessary while
going up or down. Not only is that a nuisance and dangerous, they were
never quite the right length anyway. What I needed was a quick, easy
and safe way of lengthening or shortening the lanyard, preferable with
one hand and without detaching anything.
Eureka! I found the perfect device at a local rock climbing shop. I'm
not sure of the exact name, but let's call it a belaying clamp.
Basically, it is a very simple cam-operated rope clamp. The whole
thing is about the size of a golf ball.
With this device, your positioning lanyard must be a round rope - a
flat lanyard will not work because the cam will only clamp down on a
round rope. I use a 15 foot piece of 7/16" double braided nylon which
is man-rated for rock climbing. To operate, you connect it with a
locking carabiner to one of your D-rings and feed one end of your rope
through it so that pulling the rope back out locks the cam. Connect
the other end of the rope to the other D-ring using a bowline with a
locking carabiner. You want a carabiner here so you can release it to
go around guy wires or other obstacles.
Here's the neat part: You can either shorten or lengthen the rope with
one hand. To lengthen, there is a short wire loop which you pull at a
right angle to the rope to release the cam. For safety, the cam will
only release when there is very little tension on the rope. If you are
leaning back with your full weight on the rope, the cam will not let
go, which is what you want of course. To tighten up, just pull the
tail end of the rope out at a right angle and the cam will release and
let you pull the rope through. Slowly release tension on the free end
and the cam will automatically re-engage. It's a lot simpler than it
sounds and it works like a charm.
This is a truly marvelous, simple and inexpensive device which has
made tower climbing a lot more pleasant for me.
A word of caution: Buy this only from a rock climbing shop or a
trusted dealer where you know it is man-rated for safety. Don't take
chances on something designed for belaying cargo rope. If it is safe
enough for rock climbers to use, it's safe enough for me.
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