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  #1  
Old 06-09-2009
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Climbing Rig Components...? (LONG)

After looking around at all the gadgets and gizmos that I could buy to get up my mast. I noticed that virtually ALL professional riggers that climb masts on a daily basis use a block & tackle setup with rock climbing gear. So that's what I decided to go with.

I'm putting together my rig now, but it's hard to actually ask real rock climbers about equipment selections, because the one's I've talked to don't seem to understand what you do and don't need for climbing a 40'-60' aluminum pole while moving around standing and running rigging without getting hung up.

Here's what I've got on order so far:
  1. 75mm Harken Carbo Ratchet Block w/ Becket for the top pulley
  2. 75mm Harken Carbo Single Block for the pulley that will be attached to my harness (I want a 3:1 lift setup)
  3. Black Diamond Big Gun Harness

So I need some advice on what else I need from any of you that use climbing gear to get up your mast solo.
  • Since it's a 3:1 rig, I'm going with 200' of 7/16" line. But I'm not sure if I should get "Dynamic" (high stretch) line or "Static" (low stretch) line. The larger diameter static line is cheaper, but the lower diameter dynamic is what they recommend in applications where you might fall, (which is not in my plans). I'm figuring since the anchor point for the top block is going to be a low stretch halyard, then there's no point in using high stretch line. So low strech static line should be my choice, right?
  • I'm assuming I need a symmetrical oval screw lock carabiner to attach the lower single block pulley to my harness. But what (if any) other carabiners do I need?
  • Do I need a mechanical ascender?
  • What should I used for a descender? Just a carabiner and a munter hitch seem to a be simple solution, but there are dozens of other types of belay plates, figure 8's, and mechanical devices for this purpose too?

Lastly and most importantly... What's the most simple and fool proof way to actually tie off while you're working? I'm looking for something that will hold me firmly and without question. But I also want something that's easy to "un"-tie and nearly impossible to jam or hang up when it's time to come back down.

Last edited by backcreeksailor; 06-09-2009 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 06-09-2009
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Sorry I am not a climbing expert. The only piece of this puzzle I would like to comment on is the line selection. I think you should be looking for the High stretch line. Classically, when you do slip, you want a line that has some give so the deceleration is less. That extra stretch gives you a bit of the bungie effect. A low stretch line will stop you fast - and may cause injury where the harness digs in.
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Old 06-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backcreeksailor View Post
After looking around at all the gadgets and gizmos that I could buy to get up my mast. I noticed that virtually ALL professional riggers that climb masts on a daily basis use a block & tackle setup with rock climbing gear. So that's what I decided to go with.

I'm putting together my rig now, but it's hard to actually ask real rock climbers about equipment selections, because the one's I've talked to don't seem to understand what you do and don't need for climbing a 40'-60' aluminum pole while moving around standing and running rigging without getting hung up.

Here's what I've got on order so far:
  1. 75mm Harken Carbo Ratchet Block w/ Becket for the top pulley
  2. 75mm Harken Carbo Single Block for the pulley that will be attached to my harness (I want a 3:1 lift setup)
  3. Black Diamond Big Gun Harness
So I need some advice on what else I need from any of you that use climbing gear to get up your mast solo.
  • Since it's a 3:1 rig, I'm going with 200' of 7/16" line. But I'm not sure if I should get "Dynamic" (high stretch) line or "Static" (low stretch) line. The larger diameter static line is cheaper, but the lower diameter dynamic is what they recommend in applications where you might fall, (which is not in my plans). I'm figuring since the anchor point for the top block is going to be a low stretch halyard, then there's no point in using high stretch line. So low strech static line should be my choice, right?
Since you're using this as a block and tackle to raise you, using a low-stretch line makes more sense.. but your current setup is only going to give you a 2:1 purchase, not 3:1. If you want 3:1 you need a single block with becket at the harness end, and a double block at the top.

BTW, you'll want a bucket or bag to drop the block and tackle line into as you're hauling yourself up. If you drop it to the deck and it gets blown and tangled with deck hardware, you may be sitting up the mast a bit longer than you want to...

Quote:
  • I'm assuming I need a symmetrical oval screw lock carabiner to attach the lower single block pulley to my harness. But what (if any) other carabiners do I need?
  • Do I need a mechanical ascender?
  • You should probably have another carabiner and an ascender for a safety line.
Quote:
  • What should I used for a descender? Just a carabiner and a munter hitch seem to a be simple solution, but there are dozens of other types of belay plates, figure 8's, and mechanical devices for this purpose too?
  • Good question, I'll let the climbing gearheads deal with this one.
Quote:
Lastly and most importantly... What's the most simple and fool proof way to actually tie off while you're working? I'm looking for something that will hold me firmly and without question. But I also want something that's easy to "un"-tie and nearly impossible to jam or hang up when it's time to come back down.
Bowline works well. Tie a short section of line to your harness, about six feet long and tie that to the mast as a safety while you're working.
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Old 06-09-2009
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In the USCG we used a tackle with a hitch around the chair's beckets. It's hard to describe, you might check some classic Navy or Merchant Marine references for diagrams. Essentialy the hauling part comes through and around the straps forming a single hitch. Under strain it tightens to keep you in place. As you pull yourself up you can feed it through, holding all running parts together in your hand will keep it from slipping. I've gone up my mast this way.
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Old 06-09-2009
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How much do you weigh? At 180lbs a 3:1 only reduces your load to 60lbs on tail end. How many "reps" of 60lbs can you do? A 40+ foot mast will require 120' of line, and due to the pulling angle you'll only be able to pull in 2' in one 'rep'. That's 60 reps of 60lbs. A 4:1 would be much easier, although now you need 160' of line to keep in a bag on your way up. Add line weight, harness weight and safetyline, carabiners, tools, etc. It can be done, but just make sure the gear you buy will work for you (we don't know your strength or weight).

A strop w/ biners spliced at either end can be used as a saftey line once you're at the top. Just hook it to the open section at the top of the mast, ease your tackle so the strop takes the load.

And although a dynamic line would be much easier on you if you were to fall, a dynamic line stretches a lot over 120', which means more pulling/reps. I'd prefer a static line.
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Old 06-09-2009
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Although not a guide or climbing expert, I am an active climber (mostly ice climbing). A few thoughts:

- I have never seen professional mast climbers, but if they are bringing a few hundred feet of rope and pulleys, etc, it is just to make it quciker / easier for them, and perhaps so they don't rely as much on the clients halyards to ascend the mast.

- static (low stretch) vs dynamic ropes. You can't say one is better that the other. they are for different applications. Dynamic ropes are used for most rock / ice climbing, as there is a possiblilty (all of the time when lead climbing) of introducing many feet of slack in the rope, which is intended to catch the climber if he falls. You want a soft catch, which doesn't put too much force on you, your harness or your gear that is placed in the rock or ice (to hold the fall). Static rope would be very bad for that type of climbing!! However, for aid climbers, or cavers, who are not using the rope to catch falls with lots of slack - instead they mechanically ascend the ropes, never allowing more than a couple of inches of slack, the static ropes can be preferable, as they don't bounce each time you try to ascend upwards.

That said - I would recommend for you to not buy any rope at all, if your halyards are in good shape , or just buy one dynamic climbing rope, to be hoisted up on a good halyard, and used as a safety line. I personally just use a spare halyard as a safety line. It is NOT dynamic - however, I am careful not to allow more than a foot or so of slack in the line.

I would 1st recommend you visit, or call a reputable climbing store, such as Mountain equipment coop (MEC) in Canada, or similar in the States. Ask to tak to a climber sales rep. Better if you can go in person.

There was another thread a couple weeks ago, about using ladders to climb, where I posted a few comments as well.

What I do :

- I use a climbing harness (combined withs a ad'hoc chest harness made from a few loops of climbing slings / sewn webbing.
- I attach a mechanical ascender through my harness and chest harness to hold my weight to the main halyard.
- I attach a loop of smaller diameter line (approx 3-4 ft, when doubled / tied together with a tripple fisherman's knot) to the main halyard, with a Kliemheist knot, just below where the harness ascender is attached. You can also use another ascender here, but the knot is cheaper!! Put your foot in the end of the loop!

- I tie another short loop of line to a spare halyard, with a prussik knot, that also attaches to my harness - this is the saftey that will catch me, if something happens to the main halyard or ascender.

- Stand up on the foot loop, as you steady your body (keep vertical) by holding one hand high on the main halyard.
- Slide harness ascender up as high as possible.
- Sit / put weight on harness acender.
- Slide safety line / prussik knot up the spare halyard.

- repeat above steps, and you will ascend, about a foot or two at a time.

When I get to the top, I attach another saftey tether to something strong at tope of mast. Compete the work I am there for.
- personally, I am used to rapelling, so I switch to rappel, on one of the lines / hayards, but rapelling ,or changing from climbing to rapelling is one of the most dangerous apsects of climbing, so..

I would suggest instead, to just decend on the fixed line, similar to the way you came up., ie
- Take off Kleimheist knot and attach above ascender (it was below ascender).
- Slide safety line / prussik knot down 1 ft.
- Use foot loop, and one hand high on mast / halyard to stand up, taking weight off of harness ascender.
- move harness ascender down 1ft.
- sit / put weight on ascender.
- move foot loop / Kleimheist knot down 1 ft

- repeat, and you will desend 1 ft at a time.

Of course, seeking professional climbing instruction would be prudent. You should then practise this hanging from a rafter in garage, or swingset / tree limb, etc, until you are confortable ascending 5 ft or so, then coming back down.

Same at boat, ascend a few feet, then switch and decend back down.
Always use a safety line.
Have another person attach yet another halyard to you, and another saftey line, and have them do three /founr warps around a winch, and loosely around a cleat. They pull in line as you go up, and slowly pay line out as you decend.

Ask climbing store which asenders are best / safest / easiest to use for both ascending and then desending ropes.

Perhaps there is a caver or aid climber amongst the group who can recommend specific ascenders. my gear is older and not purchased specifially for mast climbing, but I use it as it works fine.

Hope that helps. here's a few links to different style asenders.

go to youtubem, and search for asend rope, climbing rope, etc. there are a few videos, that at least show the process.

Black Diamond nForce Ascender - Mountain Equipment Co-op

Petzl Shunt Rope Clamp - Mountain Equipment Co-op

Petzl Mini Traxion Pulley - Mountain Equipment Co-op

Petzl Croll Ascender - Mountain Equipment Co-op
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Old 06-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zz4gta View Post
How much do you weigh?
Depending on how often I'm hitting the gym, my weight can fluctuate from 180 (when I'm not going very often), to 195 (when I'm working out hard).
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Old 06-09-2009
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I use two ascenders and a descender. One ascender is connected to a piece of wood to serve as a protection for my feet, the other is connectd to the bosuns chair. Step on the wood use the other ascender to move your chair up. sit on it move the foot part up, step and climb again.

After you finish the job, sit comfortably on your bosuns chair. Connect the ascender to the rope just below your ascender connected to the chair. Step on the ascender, remove the ascender connected to the chair. Hold the line first, then remove the ascender connected to your feet. Slowly release the tension on the rope and you will descend.
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Old 06-09-2009
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First, my disclaimer: Climbing a mast is dangerous. Climb at your own risk.

I made my own climbing rig based on the ATN TopClimber. I used 80 feet of 11mm static line, 5mm polyester accessory cord, four carabiners, and a climbing harness, all available REI. A bosun chair would be more comfortable, but I had access to a free climbing harness. Also, I don't plan on climbing my mast more than once a year.

For the ascenders I used Bachmann knots. Go to Animated Knots by Grog for more details on the structure and use of this and other knots.

Here are pictures of my rig Mast Climbing pictures by gsvarverud - Photobucket.

I see enough details in the other posts, so I won't bore you with mine.
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Old 06-09-2009
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Twenty feet of webbing works fine. Two klemheist knots. Done.
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