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Old 15-09-2013, 10:51   #1
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solo mast climbing

I was up my mast this morning to sort out a lazy jack problem.

I took a few photos of my climbing set-up (I really need to take a video).

I am curious if the rock climbers in the group have any comments or suggestions?

It works well, but I have noticed some climbers using some sort of pulley so that they can pull down on the climbing line to pull the gri-gri up. That looks a touch easier than pulling the line up to pull the gri-gri up, but I could not figure out a good way how to rig it. Everything I tried reduced my distance traveled each cycle by about half (because the pulley hung down from the ascender). Any tips on how this is done?
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Old 15-09-2013, 11:07   #2
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Re: solo mast climbing

  1. I would use sailing gloves or tight fitting PVC coated gloves (gardening gloves--great for gripping the mast) rather then the utility gloves. There have been accidents where loose gloves got drawn into the Grigri.
  2. Wear tight clothing. Same problem; clothing gets sucked into the Grigri.
  3. Yes, I have seen folks fix a pulley to the bottom of the accender for the reason you describe. I've found that if I place a small weight of some light tension on the climbing rope tail it's not needed.
  4. Clip the accender directly to the harness rather than the belay loop; it reduces some wasted motion when climbing. the only reason for the loop is to extend the Grigi from the body a little for belaying and rappel. In fact, when doing long rappels in the mountains it can be good to extend further. But if careful you can watch the area when decending.
Looks good.
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Old 15-09-2013, 11:11   #3
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Re: solo mast climbing

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Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
4. Clip the accender directly to the harness rather than the belay loop;.
I think you meant to say gri-gri here, rather than ascender?

If so, good idea, will give me a couple extra inches distance travelled.
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Old 15-09-2013, 11:17   #4
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Re: solo mast climbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
I am curious if the rock climbers in the group have any comments or suggestions?
Yes. You left a screw driver up there.


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Old 15-09-2013, 11:45   #5
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Re: solo mast climbing

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Yes. You left a screw driver up there.


MJ, I know you must have a long line of topless 18 year old models waiting to crank you up the mast - you just have to make sure their nipples don't get caught in the winch

The (my) problem with screwdrivers is not leaving them 'up there'. I am clumsy and drop ****, so it's having them falling down 'from up there' and potentially impaling someone's skull.
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Old 15-09-2013, 11:57   #6
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Re: solo mast climbing

I'n a climber, and this is the same system I use. I add two small embellishments:

1) I attach a safety backup (using a prussik knot) to a totally separate independent halyard.

2) On the etrier steps that I normally stand in while ascending I've attach a short buggy cord loop to help prevent my foot from sliding off the etrier step.
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Old 15-09-2013, 13:27   #7
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Re: solo mast climbing

My experience includes 4 solo trips up the mast so far. I use a New Tribe climbing harness (very comfortable) attached to two anchored halyards. One halyard is for climbing, one for safety. Foot loop attaches separately to climbing halyard. All three connections to the halyards are by blake's hitches. No mechanical equipment involved. I think the biggest disadvantage with my approach is the decent, which must be done one step at a time, (same as the assent), instead of an effortless rappel that you use.
Besides costing nothing, a possible advantage with my system is that the blake's hitch does not abrade the halyards. (Some of the ascenders I've seen have pretty aggressive teeth on the cam).
Now that I know what a grigri is, I may use one in place of one of the blake's hitches.
Thanks for posting your photos.
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Old 15-09-2013, 14:17   #8
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Re: solo mast climbing

Gri-gris are often used for route setting. For mast climbing however, I've always used two ascenders. One attached to the harness, one attached to a foot atrier or sling. Using a chest harness to hold the one above the harness in place makes it easier. Sit in one, stand up on the other. It really helps to tie a little weight onto the rope/halyard so that weight of the rope feeds it through the chest ascender without you needing to pull it though. Too much weight makes it hard to switch to rappel if that's your intent.
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Old 15-09-2013, 15:27   #9
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Re: solo mast climbing

I went up the mast at will, using the two ascender and climbing harness method, most climbers use. It seems simpler...to me...looking at your rig. No doubt your rig has some other attributes, but it seems....again, to me...that there are a lot of lines there. More than enough to get tangled in.

There are a couple ways to use two ascenders, you surely know. There is the one foot strap for each, method, which most climbers used. I modified this and had one ascender attached to my harness and one to a foot strap (harness ascender above the foot strap one, so that I would inch worm up...ala Etienne and his Topclimber.

[edit to add that there is a single ascender technique, similar to the above, that is referred to as the "frogger," in the climbing community...I believe]

For safety, I kept a tether around the mast, so that if I fell, I would only fall to the spreader (better than all the way). I could use a descender, if I wanted, no issue there.

One strap, with a leg loop, on each ascender is probably the simplest, most effective way up. A harness could be attached to one. You can still use a gri-gri or another climbing tool, coming down.

Great idea to use a safety tether...definitely a must.

My 0.02....simpler, fewer lines and straps.

Best

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Old 18-09-2013, 08:57   #10
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Re: solo mast climbing

Based on feedback (thanks!), I have made three modifications/alternatives to my system.

(1) Replace the multi-step webbing ladders with much simpler/lighter/less likely to catch on something single webbing double foot loops. The ladders are still needed if I have to work on the top of the mast, as they give you a way to climb up above the halyard sheave and drill/tap/etc down on the masthead. But for mast work below the masthead this double foot loop I slightly better.
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(2) Cow hitch the safety line to the harness belay loop rather than use a carabiner. I don’t/should not need to remove the safty line from the harness, so this just removes one piece of metal from the system.

(3) Attach the gri-gri directly to the harness straps rather than to the belay loop. This give you a significant extra few more inches of travel each ‘inchworm’ cycle.
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Old 18-09-2013, 09:07   #11
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Re: solo mast climbing

I have an ATN top climber which is painfully slow.
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Old 19-09-2013, 09:12   #12
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Re: solo mast climbing

^^
So, how slow is 'painfully slow'?

I just went up to do some painting around the steaming light, and timed it. I averaged 9secs/ft (1:30 for 10'). I am certainly not expert, and that includes slowing down a little to get over a spreader and around some other mast hardware. But I suspect it represents a reasonable expectation for the 'causal user'.
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Old 19-09-2013, 09:52   #13
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Re: solo mast climbing

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
^^
So, how slow is 'painfully slow'?

I just went up to do some painting around the steaming light, and timed it. I averaged 9secs/ft (1:30 for 10'). I am certainly not expert, and that includes slowing down a little to get over a spreader and around some other mast hardware. But I suspect it represents a reasonable expectation for the 'causal user'.
I'm used to zipping up and down lines, hand-only climbing to the top, then foot-frictioning or rappelling down. I always feel like molasses doing aloft on a sailboat. I'm sure it's safer, but I could hand climb a 20' battle rope in about ten seconds, so the extra 1:20 just as me rolling my eyes.

I probably need to get over it.
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Old 19-09-2013, 09:59   #14
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Re: solo mast climbing

I use almost the same setup except that the rope coming out of the grigri goes up to a small petzl block on the ascender again. This way, I pull down on the rope to get up.
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Old 19-09-2013, 10:05   #15
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Re: solo mast climbing

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I'm used to zipping up and down lines, hand-only climbing to the top, then foot-frictioning or rappelling down. I always feel like molasses doing aloft on a sailboat. I'm sure it's safer, but I could hand climb a 20' battle rope in about ten seconds, so the extra 1:20 just as me rolling my eyes.

I probably need to get over it.
Well 'in the old days', when men were men, most yachtsmen could hand over hand up the rig. If you can do it, I would see nothing wrong (And a lot right) with hand over hand up a thick rope using a sliding ascender on a tight halyard (tensioned to deck) as a safety. I am just not fit enough for that.

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I use almost the same setup except that the rope coming out of the grigri goes up to a small petzl block on the ascender again. This way, I pull down on the rope to get up.
Yes, that was actually my original question in the thread . . . do you have a photo of how you have that pulley rigged? I have been trying to figure out the best way to do it. Is it hanging from the bottom of the ascender or from the top? I tried from the bottom and lost too much travel distance - did not seem worth it.
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