Didn't see anyone mentioning the ATN Top Climber. ATN Mastclimber
I've been using one for several years now, probably at least 30 trips up the mast mast without another soul around. Takes about 5 minutes to set up. It's a bit of a workout but easily doable by this 65 year old. The new ones have climbing hardware
that can be attached to a halyard
anywhere. The older ones, like I have, have to have the climbing line threaded through from the end. There is a bit of a learning
curve to setting it up but not much. I found that low stretch halyards run up bar tight on a winch
make climbing a lot easier. No worry about sliding retainers up tracks should a sail jam.
I was going to make one up using climbing hardware
a harness, ascenders, making up the foot straps, etc. wasn't a bunch cheaper. If you already have some of the gear
it could be a way cheaper way to go. After all, Prussik Knots are free.
Using a four part tackle to haul one up is costly for blocks and line. It also takes a lot of line as you'll need 4 times the mast length to get to the top. There is also the problem of belaying the line. I wouldn't trust my life to a cam cleat and undoing a knot
under tension can get interesting. Definitely would want a safety
line with a Prussic knot
when using a tackle.
Steps are by far the quickest wayt to get up the mast. They do have some windage but it's not much and we're talking cruising here. Steps are also costly and no fun to drill and tap all the holes even on with the mast on saw horses, btdt. Doing them with the mast in place is just not in my future. Don't suggest pop rivets. Can't imagine doing a 100 or so of them with one of those plier like setters. I don't trust pop rivets, in any case. Working off steps gets tiresome. I usually had my wife run up a bosun's chair so I didn't have to stand for the whole time. Worked but required her to be around to get the chair up to me. You need to lash yourself to the mast so you can work hands free.