Tower Climbing and Safety Gear

Towers that soar into the sky and dazzle with their unparalleled heights are a beacon for those adventurous souls who wish to climb them. Indeed, the feeling of conquering such heights and overcoming gravity is so incredibly profound that it just cannot be fully expressed in mere words.

Many of you are certified tower climbers by profession, simply because you need to make ends meet. Tower climbing is just a job for you, a task which is equal parts thrilling and scary. Then there are a unique few of you who take up tower climbing as a quest to satiate your daredevil nature.

Regardless of which category you fall under, it is crucial to take your safety into account first. Here, we talk extensively about tower climbing gear and safety tips to ensure that you are protected from potentially catastrophic injuries!

Are There Different Types of Tower Climbing Gear?

Yes, tower climbing gear can be divided into three broad categories:

  1. Personal Protection Gear
  2. Climbing Gear
  3. Fall Protection Equipment

So whether you are an industrial climber or a recreational one, and you wish to scale cell phone towers or radio towers, it is vital to make sure you are properly equipped. Your gear should be adequate to not only easily make the climb itself, but also to prepare you in case something goes horribly wrong.

What does Personal Protection Gear Include?

Personal protection gear includes tower climbing gear which can prevent or break falls, offer protection from blunt force trauma (like head injuries, for example) while also aiding climbing. Mentioned below are a few must-have PPG items:

1. Full Body Harness

An ideal full-body harness should be made out of lightweight yet durable reflective material like nylon, with a soft shoulder and leg padding, adjustable buckles for a comfortable fit, reinforced chest loops for controlled descent, and friction-minimizing contraptions. It should also have at least one umbilical ring for rope access, rescue rings and a full float body belt to hold tools and other equipment.

You can find a wide variety of these on Amazon, like this one.

2. Helmet

You can perhaps recover from losing a limb, but head injuries can prove to be fatal! So do not EVER attempt tower climbing without strapping on your safety helmet first. Preferably one which is lightweight and has an adjustable chin-strap, a built-in headlamp, and a full-head layered impact liner.

3. Rappel Gloves

The perfect climbing gloves are double-layered, wear-resistant against heat, cold, moisture and friction, elasticated at the wrist to give a snug fit, and available in many sizes. They should have carabiner loops so that you can hang them up on the harness when not in use, and the fabric should be a mix of leather and Kevlar for durability and spandex for flexibility.

4. Miscellaneous

This subtype includes additional protective gear which varies from job to job like earplugs, eye goggles, full-face shields, respirators, winter liner/summer balaclava, etc. You can add or subtract items from this sub-type depending on the type of climb you are attempting.

 

What does Tower Climbing Gear Include?

Now that you have arranged all the necessary protective gear for yourself, it’s time to focus on tower climbing gear to make the risky ascent itself. Mentioned below are a few must-have pieces of tower climbing gear and our recommended options from where to purchase them:

1. Lanyard

A climbing lanyard is a special type of cord that comes handy in many things like using it as an anchor point, gaining support while airborne, and positioning yourself at the desired height.

2. Carabiner

A carabiner is a steel hooking and anchoring tool which comes with a twist-lock mechanism to attach itself to the scaffold, pipes, rails, or other objects to assist your climb. A heavy-duty carabiner should have a wide gate opening, a non-corrosive steel body, and a high vertical carrying load.

3. Swivel

A swivel is a small piece of equipment that helps prevent ropes from tangling together, particularly if you are climbing in a confined space. An ideal swivel should be super lightweight with a load-carrying capacity of at least one person.

  1. Snap Hooks

As the name indicates, snap hooks are double-locking connective devices that aid in fixing different types of gear together as well as for providing leverage. It’s a good idea to carry a bunch of them in your tool belt when attempting a climb because you never know when you may need them.

What does Fall Protection Equipment Include?

As the name suggests, fall protection equipment aids in breaking your descent in case you suddenly lose altitude when your grip or anchorage falters. It works to quickly halt your decline and give you the time and opportunity to regain your footing and get back into your desired position or location. In other words, it literally is a lifesaver!

Here are a few basic types of equipment that are included in the fall protection gear category:

1. Vertical Lifeline

A vertical lifeline is a thick, sturdy synthetic rope connected with steel snap-hooks on one end and a loop on the other. It is designed to offer temporary reprieve if you suddenly lose altitude and it serves to break your fall long enough to let you regain your bearings and get to safety.

2.Rope and Rope Grab

Of course, it’s always a good idea to take some extra rope with you when you are about to climb a tower. And it’s even better to carry a rope-grab as well. A rope grab is a handy instrument that is designed to smoothly slide over your vertical lifeline and is usually made from stainless steel. So instead of grappling the rope using only your hands (quite a tricky feat especially when you are dangling tens of feet in the air!), the rope grab will do it for you with ease.

3. Self-Retracting Lifeline

If you can afford a pricier alternative, then a self-retracting lifeline (SLR) is a better option. This one-time investment is a particularly adept tool in breaking a fall thanks to its quick-activating mechanism and can dead-lift around 300lbs easily. And since it is self-retracting, it is conducive in hoisting yourself up with minimal effort.

In summary, these are just some of the most basic and essential pieces of tower climbing gear that every climber who values his life should carry with him. If you are an industrial climber, always ensure that your employer provides you with all the necessary equipment and double-check it. And no matter how experienced a climber you may be, it is wise not to get overconfident. A cell tower with latticework might be considered the easiest type of climbs, but one tiny mistake can cost you your life – so don’t push your luck!

If you are a recreational climber, then the responsibility of selecting the right gear falls on your shoulders so don’t be complacent or stingy about it. Most equipment is a one-time investment which might seem pricey upfront but ultimately is pretty cost-effective when you take longevity into account. Pack your gear in an organized manner to make sure strings and straps don’t get tangled up with one another, and triple-check whether all the harness straps and additional attachments are secure before you begin.

For more info: read this guide to understand some basic principles behind climbing.

We hope that you will be safe with all these tips in mind.