[TowerTalk] Climbing

Donald Chester k4kyv at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 29 02:55:31 EDT 2014

>From: ve5ra at sasktel.net

>.. but the simple steel cable running up the side of the
tower, with the locking device, will ensure you dont fall ...   when  going up or down the tower.

##  Once you arrive at the desired level of the tower,  you hook in with both lanyards.   That’s
about as simple and safe as it gets.   The steel cable running up the side of the tower will not impede
climbing the tower, cost very little to install.  You will never die  from falling off the tower... cuz you are
tied onto the tower at all times.  .375 inch EHS cable is  dirt cheap.... you only require enough to
>span the height of the tower.  IE:    50-200 feet.>>>

First of all, how did you install the steel cable on the side of the tower without climbing it the first time without the protection?

I can appreciate the fall arrest cable if you frequently climb the tower.  I use my tower as a quarter wave vertical for 160, and to hold up an open-wire line fed dipole at  the 119' level. The antenna requires little maintenance, so I very seldom have a reason to climb the tower. Until recently, I hadn't climbed in over fifteen years. Since all hardware can be expected to eventually rust or corrode, I don't  know if I would feel comfortable betting my life on the unknown condition of a steel cable and connecting hardware that I hadn't inspected for more than a decade.

I put up my 127' of Rohn 25 single-handedly in 1981, using only a Korean War era US Army Signal Corps climbing belt made of nylon webbing sandwiched between two layers of leather. The thing was heavy and bulky but I felt comfortable using it, with the addition of a second light weight lanyard to enable me to retain 100% tie-off while crossing the guying points. Before my most recent climb I  threw the thing away. The leather was visibly deteriorating and I knew better safety equipment was available.  I purchased a near top-of-the-line climbing harness and a couple of positioning lanyards, along with  a set of gorilla hooks.

I always climb my tower with one positioning lanyard strapped around the tower at all times, just as I did with the old Signal Corps belt. I don't find it a problem to slip the lanyard up the tower with me as I climb, and whenever I cross a  guying point I attach the second  lanyard above the guy bracket before disconnecting the first one below, just as I did with the old belt.  I used the gorilla hooks with my recent climb, but I think I'll leave them on the ground next time. Constantly hooking and un-hooking those things as you go while climbing up and down is very fatiguing and takes at least twice as long as climbing with a simple lanyard. Even with the proper fall arrest lanyard attached, dropping six feet while tethered to a tower could cause serious injury.  It would certainly be traumatic, and likely end the project for that day. The fall arrest lanyard is a one-use item so it would have to be replaced.

Most worrisome of all, particularly using a climbing harness with gorilla hooks and fall arrest lanyards, is a little-known phenomenon called suspension trauma. Suspension trauma is caused by "orthostatic intolerance", which can occur any time a person stands quietly for prolonged periods. It is most commonly encountered in military parades where soldiers stand at attention for extended periods. This may be prevented by keeping the knees slightly bent so the leg muscles are engaged in maintaining posture. When the legs remain immobile with the person in an upright posture, gravity pulls blood into the lower legs, which have a very large storage capacity. Enough blood eventually accumulates so that return flow to the heart is reduced. If the blood supply is restricted enough, the worker or soldier will faint, slumping to the ground where the legs, heart and brain are on the same level, allowing sufficient blood to return to the heart. Suspended in a harness, the person can’t fall into a horizontal posture, so the brain’s blood supply falls below the critical level. The harness keeps the worker in an upright position, resulting in loss of consciousness and eventually death. A worker suspended in an upright position with legs dangling in a harness of any type is subject to suspension trauma.  See

With the positioning lanyard strapped to the climber and around the tower, the worst thing that could happen would be for the climber to loose his footing. He might slip a few feet but the lanyard would prevent a free fall, and keep the climber tied close enough to the  tower to regain his footing and likely safely descend the  tower.

The greatest problem I have with climbing Rohn 25 is that with most available footwear, the tower rungs are not wide enough to allow one to stand securely and comfortably with both feet on the same rung. Larger towers, like the Rohn 45, are much more climber friendly.

Nylon webbing  type lanyards have a tendency to fray when on a tower that has significant surface rust. After I have climbed a time or two with a new lanyard, I inspect it for signs of fraying, and wrap those areas with grey duct tape. This seems to keep the nylon fabric intact if the tape is replaced after each climb.

Don k4kyv


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