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Old 23-04-2014, 06:41   #1
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Climbing mast with steps

Hi,
I have found posts regarding the climbing of a mast with many variations of harnesses, etc but cannot find advice on climbing a mast with steps.

Ideally I would like advice on climbing without assistance from another person.

Any advice on the safest way to do this would be appreciated.
Cheers
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Old 23-04-2014, 08:13   #2
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Re: Climbing mast with steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firesec View Post
Hi,
I have found posts regarding the climbing of a mast with many variations of harnesses, etc but cannot find advice on climbing a mast with steps.

Ideally I would like advice on climbing without assistance from another person.

Any advice on the safest way to do this would be appreciated.
Cheers
I'm assuming here that you have steps all the way up the mast. If that's the case then:

Take your primary halyard and tie it down to the deck in line with your climbing route, take the major slack out of the halyard and ensure that it's properly locked-off at the winch end and cleated if possible.
Use a climbing harness and a <5ft sling to connect yourself to a petzl shunt type device (SHUNT | Petzl) or any other self-clutching ascender attached to the halyard.
You can then start climbing the steps stopping occasionally to move the shunt up the halyard. It's always prudent to stop a couple of feet from the deck and let go just to test out the safety line system before you commit further!
The shunt will act as a lock to the halyard in the event that you fall, and you're only going to fall a few feet due to the sling.
The reason for tying down the 'sailhead' end of the halyard is to ensure it doesn't lift or flap-around when you're trying to slide the shunt up the line.
Once you're at the top, you can use an additional sling passed around the mast to hold you in place while you work. NEVER remove the shunt until you're back down on deck.
To come back down, you simply reverse what you did on the way up. Remember, if any downward load goes onto the cantilever arm of the shunt it'll lock-off. While ascending, you'll have to depress the arm to slide it down the halyard.
...and as always, ensure you read the instructions for whatever kit you get first.
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Old 23-04-2014, 08:24   #3
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I just climb up there, making sure that only one leg or arm is moving, while the other three grab hold, that is all i do.....
Working up there at the mast for any longer period of time i will be harnessed to whatever comes handy, spreaders, mast top, etc.
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Old 23-04-2014, 08:28   #4
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Re: Climbing mast with steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavalier View Post
I'm assuming here that you have steps all the way up the mast. If that's the case then:

Take your primary halyard and tie it down to the deck in line with your climbing route, take the major slack out of the halyard and ensure that it's properly locked-off at the winch end and cleated if possible.
Use a climbing harness and a <5ft sling to connect yourself to a petzl shunt type device (SHUNT | Petzl) or any other self-clutching ascender attached to the halyard.
You can then start climbing the steps stopping occasionally to move the shunt up the halyard. It's always prudent to stop a couple of feet from the deck and let go just to test out the safety line system before you commit further!
The shunt will act as a lock to the halyard in the event that you fall, and you're only going to fall a few feet due to the sling.
The reason for tying down the 'sailhead' end of the halyard is to ensure it doesn't lift or flap-around when you're trying to slide the shunt up the line.
Once you're at the top, you can use an additional sling passed around the mast to hold you in place while you work. NEVER remove the shunt until you're back down on deck.
To come back down, you simply reverse what you did on the way up. Remember, if any downward load goes onto the cantilever arm of the shunt it'll lock-off. While ascending, you'll have to depress the arm to slide it down the halyard.
...and as always, ensure you read the instructions for whatever kit you get first.
This is very good advice. I would only add that one of the great benefits of mast steps seem to me to allow you to stand at the mast top comfortably as some jobs involving wrenches or other torquing motions are tough to do from a sitting/hanging position. That's why you will sometimes see widely spaced steps on a mast, but paired steps at the first spreader (coral-head lookout) and about a metre below the mast top (for dogging down nuts supporting antennas, wind instruments, or to relieve tension while wiring up lights, and so on).
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Old 23-04-2014, 08:45   #5
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What Cavalier said. But I don't think you need to buy a special device. a prusik knot, klemheist knot or even a rolling hitch will work. Another option is to have a short line attached your harness. clip in take couple steps, move the tether take a couple steps, repeat.
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Old 23-04-2014, 11:37   #6
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Re: Climbing mast with steps

Do you mean steps affixed to the mast, or ratlines and battens on the shrouds? Maybe Robert Redford can climb alone, but you can't. He had fifty or so crew on the other side of the camera, and he wasn't actually, you know, aloft.

Three points of contact as you're climbing, use your hands for balance and your feet to climb. Lash tools and parts to your cargo loops, or better yet have your deck send them up on a halyard. Clip-in high, and make sure it's to something that can stop you from falling (one of my friends made an unexpected trip down to the deck when he clipped into a backstay).

Climb on the windward side when you are under way, and on the water side when at a dock. Think ahead, move deliberately, and have fun! Not many people get to do this.
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