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Re: [TowerTalk] Climbing is risky business

To: "Tower (K8RI)" <>,
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Climbing is risky business
From: dan bookwalter <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 08:19:42 -0800 (PST)
List-post: <>
a similar situation happened in this general area many
years ago... i wont mention the calls of the hams

one night ham1 got a call from ham2 asking if he could
come over before a contest to do a little repair so he
could operate in the contest, unfortunatly ham1 was
busy, so , ham2 decided to do the work himself even
though he had never done any tower work and was afraid
of heights...

well, later that night (10 pm'ish) ham1 got a frantic
call from ham2's wife saying he had been on the tower
for sometime now and wont move or respond to anyone...
(the temperature was around freezing) so needless to
say ham1 went over to see what he could do... he
climbed up to ham2's position on the tower (less than
50' i believe) but he couldnt get him to move or
respond to anything... since ham2 lived way out in the
middle of nowhere and time was short the only solution
ham1 could come up with at the spur of the moment was
to pry ham2 off the tower and throw him over his
shoulder and climb down with him (not the best of
ideas) ... when they were safely on the ground ham2
still wouldnt say anything, ham1 took ham2's belt away
from him and told him to never attempt climbing
again.... interestingly ham2 never said a word to ham1
about the entire incident...

i am sure there are hundred's of stories like this in
the ham world...


--- "Tower (K8RI)" <> wrote:
> Being one who still does his own climbing even at my
> age (Joyce made me quit
> climbing for the young guys though) I think I can
> say with some knowledge
> that when you figure the average employee works 2080
> hours per year and hams
> only spend a few hours a year (if that) on their
> towers, we probably have an
> even more dismal record.
> I've climbed since I was in my early teens, helping
> my dad as a lineman on
> one of the old rural telephone co-ops.
> I don't mean to sound critical of hams in general,
> but:
> As most of the hams around here, who wanted help,
> have found; I want the
> tower to be sturdy.  I do not climb anything that
> feels like a wet noodle
> and I'd say the majority of ham towers fall into
> that category.  After all,
> most are small towers, maybe 40 feet and bracketed
> to the end of the house,
> or guyed with "Radio Shack" soft steel guy lines and
> using a dirt base
> (which is fine in many cases).
> The actual ratings of the tower seems to seldom be
> taken into consideration.
> Some of the plans I've seen are scary.  Fortunately,
> I've always been able
> to encourage the builder to take a safer route.
> OTOH it's not just the towers.
> I used to do the tower work for one of the repeaters
> about 60 miles west of
> here.  It was kinda handy as we lived about 400
> yards to the west of the
> tower which is on a good size hill.  Joyce and I had
> moved down here the
> previous fall.  We had a fantastic UHF/VHF location.
> At any rate, I was headed into town when I received
> a call over the Midland
> repeater asking me to please call on the telephone.
> It seems as if they were doing some work at the
> repeater site next to where
> I used to live and one of the guys decided if an old
> guy like me could do
> that work, so could he. (did I mention he'd never
> climbed before). Sooo...He
> made it up over the base which a concrete pier with
> the top about 8 feet
> above the ground.  I think it was some where around
> 40 to 50 feet when he
> looked down.  They needed help as he froze.
> I had to go home, get my equipment and drive nearly
> 60 miles. When I got
> there, he was still in the same place and position.
> That tower is not a bad
> climb, except it's difficult to get over the base
> and the guys at the mid
> point have an 18 inch band around the tower so you
> have to unhook and climb
> around it.  The tower is square and 2 feet across
> each side.  It's *almost*
> like climbing a ladder except you do have to watch
> where you put your feet
> due to the diagonal bracing.
> I went up and spent about 15 to 20 minutes just
> shooting the breeze with him
> too sooth his nerves, but time was pretty important
> as he'd been up there a
> couple of hours and was getting pretty tired.
> I finally got him to the point where I could take
> his hand and reposition
> it, and then his foot. Then both hands and feet.  I
> brought him down the
> tower, one hand and one foot at a time.  50 feet
> doesn't sound like much
> until you have to keep climbing up and down to place
> the persons hands and
> feet for each movement.  It took me over half an
> hour just to get him down
> that 50 feet and I think that was the most difficult
> climb I ever did.
> He opened his eyes once when we reached the concrete
> pier and promptly
> closed them again. It took three of us to get him
> down that last eight feet.
> > I wanted to pass this info along since although
> most of us do it only as
> part
> > of our hobby, we do climb.  Be careful up there!
> >
> Thanks, I think it is something that should be
> brought up on a regular basis
> as there are many pitfalls for the unwary and
> unprepared.
> One of the major ones is staying up too long. Then
> the climber discovers
> they are too tired to climb down.  This isn't
> *usually* a problem on a 40
> foot tower, but it can be.  People get too tired all
> too often and then make
> a mistake. Some times a fatal mistake.
> There is a big difference in climbability when it
> comes to towers as well.
> The old American Steel is one way to get some
> serious exercise as the cross
> rungs are two feet apart.  Climbing 90 feet using
> two foot steps is a real
> good way to end up with some seriously fatigued calf
> and leg muscles.
> Imagine having a "Charlie Horse" at 90 feet even
> with good climbing
> equipment.  Now, think of making a climb like that
> your first one of the
> season.
> OTOH, my 45G is easy to climb although I have so
> much *stuff* hanging on it
> I've turned it into a challenge.  The 25 G is an
> easy climb as well, but
> remember it isn't really rated for a couple hundred
> pounds of antennas and
> rotor along with a 200# climber.
> I wish I had some photos of some towers I've taken
> down. Particularly some
> of the taller American Steel.  Be wary of climbing
> one that has 1/4 inch
> steel guys that were properly tentioned.  On a 90
> foot tower the downward
> force from the guy lines substantially exceeds the
> tower's rating.  I've had
> to use jacks to get the last three sections apart as
> they had "belled" out
> between the bolts that fasten the legs together.
> > The most recent data from the National Institute
> of Occupational
> > Safety showed a fatality rate for tower
> construction workers of 460
> > deaths per 100,000 employees. In contrast, the
> U.S. Department of
> > Labor reported a fatality rate of 27.7 for
> construction workers as a
> > whole, 25.0 for truck drivers 11.6 for police and
> 4.0 for all
> > occupations.
> >
> The summary below pretty much describes the
> *average* ham instalation, at
> least as I've seen them. Maybe other areas of the
> country are better off.
> > The root causes are a combination of factors -- a
> lack of training,
> > slipshod construction techniques, inferior safety
> equipment and
> When it comes to safety equipment the new safety
> harneses are now being
> called into question.  I'm refering tot he ones that
> allow the climber to
> basically sit down comfortably in the harness.  The
> probaem is not one of
> getting hurt in the normal sense, but in the
> circulatory system.  If the
> climber just sits there and works comfortably, the
> blood tends to pool in
> the lower extremeties.   They may begin to feel a
> bit strange and come down,
> but there are a number of instances where they have
> passed out and a couple
> where death has been reported..  I don't remember
> the name for it, but there
> was quite a write up on it recently in one of the
> medical journals and in
> one of the "spelunking" society journals.
> > inexperienced workers -- that have made an
> inherently risky
> > profession far more dangerous.
> 73
> Roger Halstead (K8RI, EN73 & ARRL Life Member)
=== message truncated ===

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