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Old 16-01-2012, 18:59   #1
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Climbing a Mast - Alone

i need to get to the top of my mast without help.

i've used a bosun's chair before with a second man to winch me up. that won't work this time.

i've thought about buying or making a rope ladder that i can haul up on a halyard, then climb.

has anyone ever done this?

is there a simple way to climb a mast that doesn't have steps?

any suggestions and experiences appreciated.

thanks.
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Old 16-01-2012, 19:30   #2
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

Yes, definitely possible. I've done it myself a few times using a climbing harness and a couple of prussik cords. Make sure you have a method for coming back down again as descending on prussiks is not particularly easy. I use a second halyard and a descending device that I have rigged as a backup that I slide up with me as I climb. Then when I'm ready to come down I lock off the descender, remove the prussiks, then use the descender to abseil back to the deck.

If you don't like the idea of hanging on a couple of prussic cords you could also buy climbing ascenders. But don't forget you'll still need something to descend with as well.

I'd suggest finding a friendly climber or head down to your local climbing wall to ask someone who knows what they're doing to point you in the right direction.

Always a good idea to practise somewhere safe that you can get down from easily first. I spent an hour or 2 hanging from a beam in my garage making sure I could get up and come back down before doing it for real up a mast.

It looks like there has already been a bit of discussion on this here Challenge: Climbing a Mast Using Prussik Knots
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Old 16-01-2012, 19:45   #3
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

Hi-
I nearly always climb alone. I have a double block with becket that I haul to the masthead. There is a corosponding triple block with a cam cleat that is shackled to the eyes of my chair. I can haul myself up twice easily, and a third time with some huffing and puffing. My mast is 50'.

A triple/quad set up would be easier.

John
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Old 16-01-2012, 19:47   #4
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

has anyone used something like this?

http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-Mounta.../dp/B0045E49ZE
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Old 16-01-2012, 19:59   #5
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

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Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
Hi-
I nearly always climb alone. I have a double block with becket that I haul to the masthead. There is a corosponding triple block with a cam cleat that is shackled to the eyes of my chair. I can haul myself up twice easily, and a third time with some huffing and puffing. My mast is 50'.

A triple/quad set up would be easier.

John
This is what I used to use, I recommend having a ratchet block attached to the boatswain's chair to ease the load on your grip.
But now I use an ATN mast climber.
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Old 16-01-2012, 19:59   #6
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
--- I have a double block with becket that I haul to the masthead. There is a corosponding triple block with a cam cleat that is shackled to the eyes of my chair. I can haul myself up twice easily, and a third time with some huffing and puffing. ---
A triple/quad set up would be easier.
+1 but a third time would probably kill me.
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:06   #7
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

Single handing for a decade, I installed mast steps and then use an Alpine climbing harness and a fixed halyard to chase me as I climb the mast steps. If I slip or stop I hang from the fixed halyard. Getting down is different using only the steps and no halyard back up. Haven't figured out how to back up the "down" yet.
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:09   #8
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

no offense guys. i know there's lots of ways to get up and down. some more sophisticated than others.

i'm just wondering if anyone has ever hoisted a ladder of some sort and walked up.

seems like a simple thing to do. just want to know if there's any downside to it i haven't thought of.
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:14   #9
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

Larry and I have always used a gantline - i.e. four part purchase block and tackle as described by rroger in his post. You can see a photo and diagram by clicking on this link. Cruising Tip: Working aloft

I am closer to 70 than 60 and can still take myself to the top of the mast. But even better when it comes time for the eyarly varnish up, this tackle makes it real easy for Larry to hoist me aloft, then I can let myself down bit by bit any time I wish. Best part of all is, I can swing out safely to inspect the outer edges of the spreaders using this arrangement. With mast steps (which I have tried) I felt utterly insecure trying to get out to the ends of the spreaders.
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:16   #10
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Re: climbing a mast, alone



lol...

thanks guys

i'm going to make a ladder.

i'll tell you how it goes - if you care.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4443215_make-rope-ladder.html
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:23   #11
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

TopClimbers - Mast Climbing Bosun's chairs. A great invention. Have replaced back, forestay, furler and done a ton of other work up the mast without the need of help other than one person for 10 minutes to support the forestay/furler when I rehoisted and installed it. The seat/harness is safe and comfortable for hours of work. Takes a little effort to climb but nothing too taxing for this 67 year old.
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:37   #12
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

I use an ATN top climber but have one caution. When I first got it, it seemed like lower unit cam was tight but didn't think much about it until I was ready to come down. Faster than you can say "O ****" the lower leg unit dropped between my feet to the deck. Luckily my brother was around and could heave a line up to me. It's a great unit but you should attach a lanyard between the lower unit and upper or your belt. I know several mt climbers and they say that is standard practice. I'm over 70 and don't find it difficult either going up or down. (But not quite as easy as the 98 lb cutie they use in the ads.)
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Old 16-01-2012, 20:40   #13
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

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Originally Posted by TheScarab View Post
just want to know if there's any downside to it i haven't thought of.
Depends on how much of a downside falling off and hitting the deck is I guess. It only takes a fall of a couple of metres to do some pretty serious damage. You might be as sure footed as a mountain goat but they've been known to fall of mountains too.
If using a ladder I'd probably modify osirissail's backup method by tying a prusik to a fixed halyard and then to my harness. That way you could slide the priusik up or down as you climb and it should lock on if you fall. Again there are provisos on making sure this works when you want it to so go talk to someone that can show you.
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Old 16-01-2012, 21:31   #14
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

Ascenders are easier to rig than prussiks, although more expensive. They are also passive when ascending, where a prussik usually needs to be dragged along. I agree a backup is recomended, but prussiks are prone to slipping when wet, and can be mis-rigged.
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Old 16-01-2012, 21:39   #15
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Re: climbing a mast, alone

i'm going to make a ladder.

i'll tell you how it goes - if you care.

How to Make a Rope Ladder | eHow.com[/QUOTE]


In my opinion a rope ladder is a dangerous way to get to the top of the mast. Rope ladders are very unstable, and ending up hanging by your foot (or worse) are not uncommon results. Climbing a rope with ascenders (or jumars) mountain climber style is a much safer method. Hard to explain without seeing it done, but with some training it is pretty easy and safe.

When I was a professional ski patroller, we would practice a week on chair lift rescue with ropes every season. We found from experimentation that rope ladders were not a real option, much to dangerous.

An example:

Don't forget you need to get back down. Can use same method to climb down, or use a belay device.

These techniques have the disadvantage that really need to have someone experienced teach you how. But climbing up a tall mast is something to take seriously. Be careful.
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