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That'd make one hell of a trapeze
September 14, 2010 5:30 PM   Subscribe


 
Oh dear GOD -- I'm getting shooting pains!
posted by mazola at 5:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tell them I hate them.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I can't watch that.
posted by rusty at 5:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. I used to have testicles. Wonder where they went.
posted by MrVisible at 5:40 PM on September 14, 2010 [22 favorites]


I will never complain about my job ever again.
posted by mazola at 5:42 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


That is just terrifying.
posted by The World Famous at 5:43 PM on September 14, 2010


It's good to take a break, and take a look around.

HOLY FUCK OH JESUS NO IT IS NOT GOOD IT IS NOT GOOD AT ALL
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:43 PM on September 14, 2010 [90 favorites]


i don't

i mean i

but

holy crap
posted by eyeballkid at 5:44 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny thing just occurred to me.
I've always imagined how silly it must have been for early motion picture audiences 100 years ago to not grasp that the things they saw on screen were simply enlarged transparent photos playing in succession because, after all, it's so simple. It's not real. Stupid 100 years ago jerks!

Yet here I am safe and sound at my desk experiencing quesy vertigo in the pit of my stomach by looking at a compressed video in a tiny window showing heights I am clearly not experiencing firsthand.

Perception is a funny thing like that. I experience the same rush playing Just Cause 2.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:45 PM on September 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


I liked the part near the end where he kinda nonchalantly brushed something off the bottom of one of his boots. AT 1750 FEET ABOVE THE GROUND.
posted by Venadium at 5:47 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, I almost passed out when he got to the very top and wasn't clipped in or holding on with either hand.
posted by The World Famous at 5:47 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


My throat keeps involuntarily opening and closing while I'm watching this. And I swear I'm starting to perspire.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:49 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, take an elevator 1600 ft and climb the rest. But still...I clicked on the thread thinking "well, surely they self-belay one way or another." But nope. I think having rock climbed and worked (self-belayed) in high places before this scares me even more. I just keep thinking NO!!! UNSAFE!!!

(Also this confirms my belief that there are blue collar workers more hardcore than even the most extreme adventurers.)
posted by ghharr at 5:50 PM on September 14, 2010 [26 favorites]


My hands are sweaty and I'm terrified of everything now.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 5:50 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain how the safety regulations allow this? "Up here, it is inconvenient to use ropes and all that jazz that people must use when working on roof shingles on 2-story houses."
posted by Scarf Face at 5:51 PM on September 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


No safety lines, sure, but can't they give him a parachute?
posted by theodolite at 5:52 PM on September 14, 2010 [22 favorites]


That was horrible. Just horrible.
posted by oddman at 5:52 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I keep turning the phrase "Now comes the tricky part" over and over in my head...
posted by shino-boy at 5:52 PM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


I bet this Mike Rowe craps his pants watching this.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:53 PM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


"If there's a storm passing through, there's no quick way down..."

Yes, there is. Real quick. Or maybe not quick enough.
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:57 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, I've got nearly 200 jumps in my skydiving logbook, but I cannot watch beyond the first minute of so of this. I 'bailed' at the point where he left the confines of the surrounding structure, to head up that pole out in the open ...
posted by woodblock100 at 5:58 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh god.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:59 PM on September 14, 2010


I could do that job, if my muscles didn't give out. Fear-wise: the thing isn't going to fall over, and you can keep three points at all times firmly on a steel grip. Your hands could give out, especially flipping up to the top, using those diagonal bars with no hand holds. That guy looks pretty buff, but I could do it if I brought several picnic meals and took it slow.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:59 PM on September 14, 2010


I'm sitting in my bed, with a cat on my lap.

So why is my heart racing like I was just sprinting?
posted by quin at 5:59 PM on September 14, 2010


I got as far as the third time he looked down, and then had to stop.

Can someone explain how the safety regulations allow this?

Are you volunteering to go up there and make sure he's following regulations?
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:59 PM on September 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


Show this to those guys in that mine in Chile. Maybe they won't feel so bad.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:00 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel sick.
posted by chugg at 6:01 PM on September 14, 2010


I love heights, but that crap about how safety lines would just slow him down is pure stoopid. There's no reason a permanent belay line couldn't be installed, with a sliding ratchet for the climber's safety line. No reason except pure cheap on the part of the employer.

There are numerous ways to work out a belay system that wouldn't be any more onerous than the climb itself. I suppose the fact that only a handful of people ever do a climb like this is why OSHA hasn't paid it more attention...not that they have the manpower to actually enforce regulations.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:03 PM on September 14, 2010 [30 favorites]


I've never had much of a fear of heights (walked out just fine on that glass outcrop on the sears tower, etc), but his head moving around PLUS the really wide angle lens PLUS knowing it was a free climb without a harness and I got vertigo and an ominous sense of impending doom.
posted by chimaera at 6:04 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if it's allowed and expected to wet yourself when you do this job. I should hope so.

These must be the most stolid, even-keeled, psychologically stable sumbitches there are. They must make ER doctors look like Woody Allen. At least, if they do this job for very long.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:04 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't go near a window if I'm more than five or six floors up. I had a dream about this thing a while ago and actually woke up crying. Nothing terrifies me more than heights, and depths. But I'm getting better. When I was a child, I used to have breakdowns whenever I found myself in a tree. What this means is that people like this I consider the bravest humans on the planet.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:04 PM on September 14, 2010


Fuck no.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:06 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like how they say efficiency is a value comparable with safety.
posted by nervousfritz at 6:07 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I liked when he clipped his safety harness to that little four inch nail with no end on it because then he was totally safe.
posted by rocket88 at 6:07 PM on September 14, 2010 [37 favorites]


I just keep thinking NO!!! UNSAFE!!!

Me too. I get that the climbing is not particularly dangerous, but I can't get over the lack of protection. There is all that wonderful steel stuff to clip into - solid anchors everywhere - it just seems so weird not to.
posted by ssg at 6:08 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid I climbed stuff like a monkey on crack. I would've loved something like this. Today? Well, I guess I've learned that I'm not invincible. That look-ma-no-hands bit at 7:46 scared the crap out of me. I'd bet strong sudden gusts of wind can come out of nowhere at that height.

Even so, I think it's kind of hilarious that so many of you are calling on the government to force these guys to do their jobs a certain way. Clearly they are professionals and exercising a degree of safety that they feel comfortable with. If climbing this way was such an unfathomable risk they would climb in a less risky manner on their own initiative, out of basic self-preservation instinct. They don't need outsiders stepping in and telling them how to do their jobs.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 6:12 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Watching this with my girlfriend and at that bit at the end when he let go to clip himself on, we both screamed.
posted by jontyjago at 6:12 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


omg
posted by Wordwoman at 6:12 PM on September 14, 2010


I shall have nightmares!
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"This is the tricky part.. getting on top."

The rest is easy!
posted by starman at 6:13 PM on September 14, 2010


I once had the opportunity to climb up one of the towers on the Golden Gate Bridge (there's an elevator most of the way, then a little pipe ladder deal like this). You're totally enclosed for that pipe ladder climb. It's about as safe as it gets. Doesn't matter: I have a lifetime fear of heights--but an equal lifetime share of impulsive, brash decision-making, hence the situation--and I was fucking terrified. I got out on the--rainy, wet--walkway and clung to the rail in terror. LOOK AT THE SCENERY? FUCK THAT NOISE.

My aunt's boyfriend took a photo. My parents had it framed. Because what I need memorialized is me, rain-drenched and white-knuckling it however many feet above solid ground--and, quite honestly, solid water.

I can look at that photo and not experience the absolute visceral teenage terror. I can look at art photos shot from where I was standing on the walkway, and I'm fine. But full kudos to the cameraperson here, because this is the first media experience that's ever brought the feeling of looking right down through steel and that it really is fucking windy up there back in full detail.

Holy shit, those guys are something.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 6:13 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You guys should go caving sometime. Even though the heights aren't comparable (unless you're in one of the 'supercaves'), there's something about the unfathomable blackness beyond your lamp...
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:14 PM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


The possibility of unpredictable heavy weather, combined with the fact that it would take me a week to get up and back, with the associated chances that I might have an unrelated medical crisis in that time, have caused me to reconsider volunteering.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:15 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I haven't had a video affect me that much in a long time.

I want to see him climb down.
posted by bondcliff at 6:16 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


fuck everything about that.
posted by empath at 6:16 PM on September 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Growing up in rural wyoming we had a 200' tall antenna just to get 2 channels of crappy television (CBS and NBC). If the wind blew the antenna out of alignment in the night my siblings or I would have to climb up while the others relayed the status of the TV reception just to tune the arial.

Actually thats an exaggeration, or a tall tale as you might say. We did have 75' antenna, and I did climb it all the time, and my dad was pretty pissed when he found out.
posted by humanfont at 6:17 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


My palms still haven't stopped sweating. My feet are sweating.
posted by Songdog at 6:19 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


'here we've reached the BASE of the antennae.'

No. Just No. Not enough money in the world.
posted by empath at 6:21 PM on September 14, 2010


Those spiky electricity-dissipating flowers at 3:35 are kinda cool, though.
posted by mediareport at 6:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


I hope the risk is worth the paycheck because just watching the video was hard enough and I like heights. I actually got a little sick to my stomach.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:23 PM on September 14, 2010


Our group of friends, through elementary and into high school, were into jumping into water from heights, be it bridges, cliffs, or electrical towers. We maxed out at 150 ft, feet first. When you first do a jump, all you experience is your fear and adrenaline. Then, you climb and jump in sequence repeatedly without pausing, and you adapt to it, and suddenly you can observe all the fascinating visuals as you fly down.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:23 PM on September 14, 2010


Oh my God, we're all wusses.
posted by mazola at 6:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


I like how the hand holds get progressively flimsier looking the higher he goes, until it's just friggin' carriage bolts. It was the the 30lb. tool bag SWAYING the whole time was what put me over the edge though.
posted by Scoo at 6:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


WHAT THE FUCK LIGHTNING.

I'm done. tell me when i can open my eyes again.
posted by empath at 6:24 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I climbed a tower about that height once, illegally at night. We jumped the fence. It had an amazing view. It had an enclosed ladder, at least as far as I made it. I made it up to the first platform, and my friends went on to the second and third, respectively. In those days heights did not bother me--I stopped early mostly because I'm a lard ass. Somehow when my second child was a baby I suddenly got very afraid of heights. I remember him happily lunging for a railing as I was holding him on some tall overlook. Freaked me out. So I'm working on calming down again now.
posted by bitslayer at 6:25 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


ghharr: "(Also this confirms my belief that there are blue collar workers more hardcore than even the most extreme adventurers.)"

If you'd like more confirmation...
posted by Red Loop at 6:26 PM on September 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sorry to do this to you all, but here's a video of a guy base jumping from a 2000-foot radio tower (first helmet-cam, then from a camera on the tower).
posted by The World Famous at 6:30 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with theodolite. Why don't they have parachutes. The narrator mentions at one point that if a storm is coming, there's no quick way down. Well, yes there is, it's called a parachute.
posted by smcameron at 6:31 PM on September 14, 2010


I climbed a tower about that height once, illegally at night.

That tower is only 1000 feet high. The one in the video is over 1700 feet high.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:33 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This dudes wife must welcome the adoption of satellite television with wide open arms.
posted by PenDevil at 6:33 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Insane BASE jumpers aside, parachutes and guy wires don't play nice together.
posted by rocket88 at 6:34 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Incredible, thanks for posting. Honestly, I am struggling to process this as being real. I just can't wrap my head around the idea (1) a company (in the health and safety conscious western world, at least) would contemplate sending untethered workers up there, and (2) anybody would do it for any price oh god oh god i can't even watch oh dear god look at oh jesus LOOK i mean what I can't even....

I mean, sure, not all people are such risk averse wimps as me, but thrillseekers, adrenaline junkies, extreme sports types - as noted, they're all typically well equipped with safety nets, literal or metaphorical. Even the no-safety-line stuff I've seen, like slacklining at yosemite, is for a couple of minutes, when they can assess the weather etc. Whereas up there!? Surely the wind alone is intense enough to rip you off if it wanted to...?!?
posted by Slyfen at 6:34 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how he nonchalantly glances at the gigantic dark storm clouds off in the distance.
posted by swift at 6:35 PM on September 14, 2010


Anyone have any idea what a tower-climbing-guy would make per (hour, year, climb, whatever)?
posted by mendel at 6:37 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


i understanding not wanting to clip in and out of fixes anchors all the way up, but why not use something like fixed wires for each section of the climb that let you use some kind of auto camming device? this really seems like overly lazy (or cheap) design. climbing a ladder is easy enough but it looks like there were some difficult moves on the way up: there's a mantle at around 1:30, small overhang at 3:00, another mantle at 4:00, and then a pole climb (!?) at the end. UNSAFE!!!
posted by mexican at 6:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


I came back here to take a break from watching the video.
I have a real phobia about heights at the best of times.
posted by dougzilla at 6:40 PM on September 14, 2010


I read the comments here first, which was a wise choice, as I decided to go pee before watching this video.

So really I only piddled myself in spirit.
posted by elizardbits at 6:40 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


In the words of the immortal Ralph Kramden:

...hominahominahominahomina....
posted by briank at 6:44 PM on September 14, 2010


I watched this with no sound. I can't watch it again. Would someone please tell me what the broken part was that required climbing to the very utter top of this thing? A burnt bulb in the aviation warning light? Or was it in the indicated electric box and he just decided to peak out just for fun? Oh... and was there a narrated voiceover to anwer the question that repeatedly came to me: "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR $#%$#$% MIND???"

TIA.
posted by Mike D at 6:45 PM on September 14, 2010


I would have little trouble getting up there, if I were in the proper shape. Coming down, on the other hand? Uh, no. I'd have to take a parachute.
posted by wierdo at 6:46 PM on September 14, 2010


I was also going to say that they should have parachutes. Also, if this is an educational video, then I think they're pretty upfront about the risk. Maybe not the narrator, but the video itself for sure.
posted by snofoam at 6:46 PM on September 14, 2010


Red Loop: If you'd like more confirmation...

That video is fantastic, deserves a filled out post of it's own.
posted by cyphill at 6:47 PM on September 14, 2010


Having watched both this and this in quick succession I think I'm going to go hide under the covers for the next few years, or as soon as my palms stop sweating.
posted by thusspakeparanoia at 6:48 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A real man would have reached the top, rolled himself some shag, and have a little smoke before starting to work.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:50 PM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


My aunt's boyfriend took a photo. My parents had it framed. Because what I need memorialized is me, rain-drenched and white-knuckling it however many feet above solid ground--and, quite honestly, solid water.

I can look at that photo and not experience the absolute visceral teenage terror.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 9:13 PM on September 14 [+] [!]


I totally need to see that photo. Is there any chance you can post it?
posted by darkmatter at 6:51 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was a fantastic video. My feet were tingling (my own personal height alarm) the entire time, and I felt palpable relief when he would clip himself on to rest. Until that last bit, where I too screamed.

I think I have to go lay down now...
posted by gemmy at 6:52 PM on September 14, 2010


Oh my God, we're all wusses.


Not me! I watched the whole video. Am I badass or what?

Oh god I need to have a drink and lie down.
posted by various at 6:55 PM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Given that the comments in this thread seem to suggest that humans have a built-in fear of climbing stuff to high places, how does that reconcile with our arboreal ancestry?

I get that in those days 'we' (our primate forebearers) needed a healthy respect for heights - those who didn't have that wouldn't have lasted long - but this paralyzing fear? It doesn't seem to make sense ...
posted by woodblock100 at 7:00 PM on September 14, 2010


My favorite thing about this thread is reading everyone's physical reactions to the video (sweaty palms, dizzy, almost threw up...)
Personally, I got this weird tingly feeling in my toes. I actually think it is an indication that I would like to try climbing something like that, just to find out how far up would make it before succumbing to fear and heading back down.
posted by mannequito at 7:01 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Something must be wrong with me; my adrenaline picked up, but more or less I found the whole thing exciting. Maybe one too many wide angle pans downwards, but yeah -- except for the "I'm gonna hook into this little rail that has no end on it", that was pretty bad ass.

What the hell are they doing up there, though, I wonder, that requires this? Changing the light bulb, I'm guessing?
posted by cavalier at 7:02 PM on September 14, 2010


I love the comments on the Youtube page: "The tool bag weighs 30 pounds, so that dude's balls must weigh around 100 or so ..."

On a side note, I felt a little palm perspiration during the tower climbing video. After the 2000ft radio tower BASE jump video, I looked down to see them sheened with sweat. Yeah, never had that happen, before.
posted by jpolchlopek at 7:03 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If climbing this way was such an unfathomable risk they would climb in a less risky manner on their own initiative, out of basic self-preservation instinct. They don't need outsiders stepping in and telling them how to do their jobs.

Wrong. I've done enough blue-collar to tell you that people do stupid dangerous stuff all the time, and quite often there is definitely a need for someone to step in and save lives. Roofers used to work without safety gear not so long ago, and fall off all the time. You'd think their basic self-preservation instinct would keep them safe. Wrong. It took OSHA regulation to get people into safety gear, and there's still plenty of resistance to it, as I noticed just a couple of weeks ago, watching a guy scramble around on a pitched roof with a 50-foot drop and nothing but a rain gutter to grab if he slipped. Nobody died, but it was only because of luck.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:05 PM on September 14, 2010 [19 favorites]


how does that reconcile with our arboreal ancestry?

Why the hell do you think we came down out of the trees?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:08 PM on September 14, 2010 [30 favorites]


You know in cartoons or whatnot and characters have to cross some rickety bridge across some great height and someone says "It'll be okay, just don't look down"? This dude is constantly looking down. This is how you know it is definitely NOT OK.
posted by juv3nal at 7:09 PM on September 14, 2010


Uh what happened to the pillow I was sitting on?


Oh no.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:11 PM on September 14, 2010


Wouldn't the wind be pretty intense that high up?
posted by NoMich at 7:11 PM on September 14, 2010


What the hell are they doing up there, though, I wonder, that requires this? Changing the light bulb, I'm guessing?

Yes! That's what I was wondering. And if so, I know there has to be a safer, less labor intensive way of changing a light bulb. Fiber-optics, maybe?
posted by kozad at 7:12 PM on September 14, 2010


The good news: Be grateful that wasn't in IMAX.
I don't have a problem with height per se, it's the sheerness. I can comfort myself with the deception that I'll bounce off a rock or something when I'm on a mountain, BUT. Staright down. No sir, I don't like it.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:13 PM on September 14, 2010


Q. How many tower riggers does it take to change a FAA warning light bulb?

A. Not me.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:14 PM on September 14, 2010 [34 favorites]


Ho-lee shit.

I've skydived and bungie-jumped. I've jumped off of cliffs and diving platforms. I thought I had a decent head for heights.

But THIS?

Oh HELL no.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:14 PM on September 14, 2010


Physics question: Assuming no wind, if the guy was to full-bore jump off the very top, how far from the base would he land?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:14 PM on September 14, 2010


Even so, I think it's kind of hilarious that so many of you are calling on the government to force these guys to do their jobs a certain way. Clearly they are professionals and exercising a degree of safety that they feel comfortable with. If climbing this way was such an unfathomable risk they would climb in a less risky manner on their own initiative, out of basic self-preservation instinct. They don't need outsiders stepping in and telling them how to do their jobs.

I know that when I'm a low-skilled worker in a high-risk profession, I'm happy to tell my boss that my life is more important than another 20 minutes on task, because he cares about me and there's no way he'd just find someone else more desperate to do the job. In fact, let's just repeal all those 40 day work week laws -- if people didn't want to work 80 hours a week, they wouldn't! In fact, let's destroy OSHA altogether and live in our capitalist paradise where the worker's feelings and life are always respected!
posted by TypographicalError at 7:15 PM on September 14, 2010 [35 favorites]


Well, if they just needed to change the lightbulb, they could always duct tape together 111 of these.

I usually feel creepiness/fear as a weakness and tingling in my calves and the backs of my knees. I didn't have that kind of physical reaction at all to this. I just swore a lot. A LOT.
posted by maudlin at 7:16 PM on September 14, 2010


how does that reconcile with our arboreal ancestry?

To the extent that humans have arboreal ancestors and ancestors in common with current arboreal creatures, we are the descendents of the ones who, for whatever reason, did not have what it took to stay in the trees but that successfully reproduced without having the "stay in the trees" instinct.
posted by The World Famous at 7:16 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if you like the video you might want to save it -- it could be taken down as this appears to be a repost not by the original site -- forum post.
posted by cavalier at 7:17 PM on September 14, 2010


That is not the job for me.
posted by incessant at 7:17 PM on September 14, 2010


Im going to have falling nightmares tonight I know it.
posted by MrLint at 7:20 PM on September 14, 2010


And I forgot to mention; I think a big part of why there is no safety equipment on the tower is these are likely a crew that go from tower to tower, city to city, doing maintenance work/etc. Not every tower was put up by the same company, and most towers are passed on from owner to owner over the years. It would be unlikely that the same crew would be coming to the tower next time.

Example of a tower painter

And yes, of course, cheap and lazy.
posted by cavalier at 7:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. I felt like I needed to throw up during that entire video. The only other one that's made me feel that way before was that buried alive in an avalanche from last year.

I very much enjoy my safe couch. I don't think I'll ever leave it again.
posted by lilac girl at 7:25 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wrong. I've done enough blue-collar to tell you that people do stupid dangerous stuff all the time, and quite often there is definitely a need for someone to step in and save lives.

QFT. I worked as an outdoor painter for eight years and never saw an OSHA rep once. And I certainly never used any safety equipment whatsoever. And never saw any of the other tradesmen pay much attention to safety either. Your 40' ladder's too short? Well just take this 16 foot ladder and this rope, climb up to the top of the 40 and tie the 16 off at the top and then climb that. Or maybe you could climb out the forth floor gable of a giant Victorian house and then lie face down on the box gutter, reach your free arm around and paint the front face of the soffit from above.

Safety means time and time is money and if you have to risk your workers to make money on your low bid, well that's business in America.
posted by octothorpe at 7:26 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


From TheOnLineEngineer.Org(the site mentioned at the beginning of the video):

"I sent out an email this weekend advertising a new video about tower climbing. It was a great video and I wish I could show it to you but the person I got it from expressed some concerns about how it reflected on the tower industry and ask me to take it down."

Comments here and here.

"Sorry about that, I had to take it down due to concerns the person I got it from had and the people that work with him. We have agreed to make some more videos in the near future that we can show."
posted by various at 7:28 PM on September 14, 2010


Why the hell do you think we came down out of the trees?

More importantly, why the hell do you think we came down out of trees that were almost 2,000 feet high?
posted by elizardbits at 7:29 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not generally terrified of heights but I think my heart is going to racing and skipping for the next hour or so.

Though I would probably do this for the right price. I'd be more worried about lightning and being irradiated or electrocuted by active antennae elements.

I've been up on a much, much smaller freestanding truss-type radio tower before with an engineer who was tuning/testing a directional FM radio element. I made the mistake of briefly standing in front of a very old high powered microwave link feed horn while roaming around the service platform.

"Woah, I suddenly feel a little warm and dizzy." "DUUUUDE! DON'T STAND THERE! YOU'RE GONNA GET COOKED!" "Oh, duh, microwaves. Ow."
posted by loquacious at 7:32 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was neat, thanks.

My wife and 5 year old watched it too, y wife had her hand my shoulder the whole time making exclamations. My daughter says, "Just go away!"
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:33 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


palms: sweaty. Especially during one point when he looked down at such an angle past the vertical that the world seemed upside-down ... D:
posted by bayani at 7:36 PM on September 14, 2010


buh
posted by maxwelton at 7:39 PM on September 14, 2010


Why wouldn't they just hover a helicopter up there, rappel down to the top of the tower and hook in?

Also: Maybe check the weather before you go up?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:42 PM on September 14, 2010


(Also, as bad as it is, the fisheye lens makes it look way worse.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:43 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why wouldn't they just hover a helicopter up there, rappel down to the top of the tower and hook in?

I imagine it's a little tricky to land a rappelling dude on the top of that needle. And there is probably a non-zero risk of knocking the whole tower over when the guy is attached to both the chopper and the tower.
posted by The World Famous at 7:46 PM on September 14, 2010


I used to work for a company that had riggers who regularly installed antennas and did other maintenance on guyed towers through regional Australia, typically in the 100-120m range (so way smaller than this, but still a 20 minute climb to the top and the same result if you fall).

Some of the towers had internal ladders, some just had pegs up the outside and some the guys just climbed the steelwork. They would free climb up and then attach at the top while they worked.

Part way through my time there one state introduced legislation stating that workers at height had to be 100% attached. My company took a national view and mandated 100% attachment nation wide. This involved two large carabiners on the harness off 2-3 foot lanyards. You would clip one on, climb up, clip the next one on above you, then reach down and unclip the one below. Then keep doing that for the 30 minutes or so it took you to reach the top. The guys hated it, and I'm guessing most of them continued to free climb since they mostly worked insupervised.

In response to the "why no permenant belay line" query, in our case it was because it just couldn't be maintained. There were 100s of towers in very remote areas, that might only get visited every few years, and a belay line like that needed 6 monthly maintenance due to safety legislation. The maintenance program would have been significantly bigger than all of the other work. I believe in cases were there was a few days work they could take a line up with them on the first climb and then use that.
posted by markr at 7:46 PM on September 14, 2010 [19 favorites]


Yeah, that video was amazing. I was practically holding my breath while he was standing on the top on working on attaching the final hook. I'm like "GET IT ON THERE!!!!"
posted by delmoi at 7:46 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


They should make the entire tower retractable so no one has to ever do this.
posted by oulipian at 7:53 PM on September 14, 2010 [21 favorites]


Physics question: Assuming no wind, if the guy was to full-bore jump off the very top, how far from the base would he land?

The important thing is that the bear he landed on would be stone-cold killed. Even without a knife.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:55 PM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


Watching the guy "clip on" during breaks, I sort of got the feeling that he was deliberately following the letter of the law but not the spirit. Hanging his safety clip over a carriage bolt rather than hooking it into a solid ring or crossbeam seemed a little "Take that, OSHA". There are so many good anchor points all over the tower, it's like he was going out of his way to choose the most useless ones.

Huh. Didn't get nervous or dizzy from the video, even though I'm not a climber or anything. I'm clumsy but, oddly, not afraid of heights as long as I can keep 3 solid points of contact on rock/tower/cave/etc. There were so many good places to hang onto for most of the climb, it didn't look too bad to me. Of course, I'd be belaying the shit out of that climb, so I'd still be going up while these dudes were already cracking a brewski and shooting some pool down at the roadhouse.
posted by Quietgal at 7:56 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You guys should go caving sometime.

No. I've seen way too many movies. I'm not going down there without guns, flamethrowers, and more lighting equipment than God.
posted by aramaic at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2010 [21 favorites]


Man I was doing fine, just a little queasy, until the second guy climbed up onto that little teeny platform at the top. I was wondering what they need two guys for then they had the voice over of the need to swamp the bag but I never expected both guys to climb to the very top when I saw the size of the platform. And then the first guy let go with both hands and didn't even appear to have an arm hooked around something to fasten the carbiner. Let's just say I was glad I wasn't operating heavy machinery at that moment.

"I love heights, but that crap about how safety lines would just slow him down is pure stoopid. There's no reason a permanent belay line couldn't be installed, with a sliding ratchet for the climber's safety line. No reason except pure cheap on the part of the employer."

This was my thought. The two big draw backs would be the weight it would add to the tower and the possibility the cable would rub and wear the tower in the wind. Seems like to would be engineerable though.

"I'm with theodolite. Why don't they have parachutes. The narrator mentions at one point that if a storm is coming, there's no quick way down. Well, yes there is, it's called a parachute."

Very good chance wind shear at different altitudes could push them back into the tower while they were falling. What they really need is a braked zip line. Wheeee!
posted by Mitheral at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2010


He should stash a geocache up there.
posted by LordSludge at 8:16 PM on September 14, 2010 [50 favorites]


I totally need to see that photo. Is there any chance you can post it?

pics or it didn't happen? ;) It's possible. It's at my parents' house, hiding in my old room. My dad loves technology, though, so maybe he can send me the pic. (I was deep in the awkward teen years, but if we accept that UN at 16 /= UN at 30, I'm cool.)

The art print my aunt's boyfriend took from that tower on another, nicer day may be online, though....that is an awesome shot. I have to remember his last name, though.

Until then---this is where I was standing (Library of Congress archive). On that walkway. As you can tell, I'm a candy-ass, because it's pretty solid stuff compared to the men in the FPP. The middle picture here is a similar pic to what the view down was like. I had to look to see if the photographer was my aunt's old boyfriend. (He isn't--but the shot is about the same.)
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:28 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


When he did the exposed climb onto the pole and then was just standing on the 10inches of platform I started laughing when he looked down and then took out the locking carabiner. Safety first!

The climb itself looks amazing and I'm a little jealous. With that said, I sure as hell wouldn't want to be down climbing that. A few of the parts he did exposed, while not on a ladder, just takes pure brass to pull off. I wonder what the wind is like?
posted by zephyr_words at 8:35 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


And here when I was a teenage stockboy I used to complain about having to climb a 30 foot ladder to hang bicycles on the ceiling.
posted by nanojath at 8:39 PM on September 14, 2010


On a more serious note: I n-th everyone on the fact that professionals may know what they're doing, and be very skilled, but you can't rule out 'doing incredibly dangerous stuff because it's cheaper, and you want to keep your job.'

Don't forget the classic 'in my day, we didn't worry about that stuff, and I* ended up just fine, didn't I? What are you complaining about?'

*yes...you did end up okay.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:40 PM on September 14, 2010


I just can't get over climbing with a 30lb bag dangling on a long tether, swinging, getting snagged, etc. It makes no sense to me. Get a low-profile alpine pack and put it on you back!
posted by gruchall at 8:41 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Down climbing is always more spicy.
posted by gruchall at 8:42 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not every day I see a guy nonchalantly do something that I would literally – and without hesitation – refuse an offer of ten million dollars to do myself. Thanks for the post.
posted by churl at 8:44 PM on September 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Guh. I feel sick. Also, my groin hurts. Seriously. Like a sick, vortex of swirling nautious pain. I believe this is a genetic trait developed over many, many generations. My genitalia is trying to point out that were I to try to do something like this, I might well fall, and most likely I'd land on my junk. This is said junk's way of telling me to never, ever do this.

I need to stand up, get some stuff done, meet with some other teachers, but I'm just rooted to my seat. I can't even fathom the idea of standing up.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:50 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


When I got to the top of that elevator, I would literally lay down on the ground with my hands on my head and not look up until someone took me back down.
posted by empath at 8:53 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why wouldn't they just hover a helicopter up there, rappel down to the top of the tower and hook in?

I'm sure it is just a cost thing. It is certainly done sometimes.
posted by Chuckles at 8:54 PM on September 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


eeek. no.
posted by rtha at 8:57 PM on September 14, 2010


Just allow me to say: HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
posted by threeturtles at 8:57 PM on September 14, 2010


Back in my day this was how we got to school. in the show
posted by shakespeherian at 9:03 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That must build some nice upper-body strength.
Also - geez, this is terrifying just to watch.
posted by Evernix at 9:05 PM on September 14, 2010


Am I the only one left wondering what he was going to work on once he was up there?
posted by exogenous at 9:13 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


He wasn't going to work on anything. He went up there to practice the bagpipes where it wouldn't bother anyone.
posted by The World Famous at 9:16 PM on September 14, 2010 [32 favorites]


Also, what I kept thinking is that someone has to be very, very confident in their mental health to do this. The ease of just slipping off if you have a passing urge is what's truly frightening to me.

But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.
posted by threeturtles at 9:22 PM on September 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


and I was so proud of myself for climbing a 100' ladder.....
posted by JujuB at 9:33 PM on September 14, 2010


My ex-stepdad used to paint towers at the Cutler Naval Radio Station in Maine. They range from 700+ to almost 1000 feet tall. There are so many of them that there's always at least one being painted if it's not winter, IIRC. The weather up there is murder on that kind of gear; the towers ice up pretty heavily in the winter and you can't paint them then. You should see the counterweight gear on the guy wires that compensates for the weight of the ice.

As I recall the paint teams rarely used the safety gear they had, because if they did they'd never finish in time. Slowed them down that much.

He might still do it, I dunno. It's one of the highest-paying jobs in the area, he can probably work there for 6 months and live off what he makes for the next 2 years.

My ex-stepdad is one lazy, crazy, nerveless sum-bitch.f

Not something I would do for any money, ever.
posted by zoogleplex at 9:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy shit what no how stop that oh my god crazy mofo aaaaaaaa.
posted by Iosephus at 9:41 PM on September 14, 2010


I quit breathing for the last couple minutes. Just forgot all about it.
posted by esome at 9:45 PM on September 14, 2010


Why the hell do you think we came down out of the trees?

OSHA
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 PM on September 14, 2010 [18 favorites]


What about the technicians who were sent there last summer?
posted by vidur at 9:47 PM on September 14, 2010


You guys should go caving sometime. Even though the heights aren't comparable (unless you're in one of the 'supercaves'), there's something about the unfathomable blackness beyond your lamp...

I've done quite a few pretty deep pits, and I have just the opposite reaction. In-cave pits, where there's no outside light, when my headlamp doesn't stretch beyond 50 or 60 feet, then I'm not really confronted with it being any deeper than that, and it's just "downy, down, down, oh, there's the bottom." Open-air pits, where you can see from the surface all the way to the floor, like Hoya de las Guaguas, getting over the lip is an emotional struggle. It's 666 feet from the lip to the floor -- a good solid 5-minute rappel, and a 45 minute climb back out. And the rope bounces when you're climbing, due to stretch, up to ten feet a bounce, and when we went, we had a brand new rope that was slowly uncoiling the whole climb, so I had this Whooa - whooooa bounce thing happening, while spiraling around probably 3 or 4 revs per minute - not fast, but still a trifle dizzying, and holy fuck, it's a long ass way down, AND a long-ass way up from the midway point of that climb. Worth it in every way, though. One of the experiences of a lifetime -- both in the personal achievement category and also in the holy shit, this is the most beautiful place on the Earth category.

The very worst though, was rapelling off a cliff face into a canyon to get to a cave entrance that was in the cliff wall about 100 feet from the top. 450 feet of vertical cliff, and another 500 or so feet of steep skree slope below that -- about 1000 feet to the canyon floor, and about 1/4 of a mile across to the other side. That weirded me out big-time -- I routed not too far over the lip, and came back up, pretty badly shaken. But it was only my 2nd or 3rd rappel ever. I think I'd be okay with it now, 15 years later. Fortunately, I sent my camera down with someone else, and they got this pretty amazing photo for me.

Overall, I'm leery of heights and don't linger around the tops of pits unharnessed, and I don't like exposure, but when I'm top-roped, i.e. clipped into a line where the anchor is above my head at all times, I feel pretty secure. The gear is bomb-proof, and it's pretty hard to make a fatal mistake in that scenario. Sure, there's always a better idiot, but the Petzl stuff it pretty idiot-proof, if used right.

That said, this here tower video gives me the fucking howling fantods.

You'd think they could permanently top-rope the thing, but I bet it'd get beaten to shit in the wind pretty rapidly, and a stressed, weak rope is worse than no rope at all, in that you'll lean on it just because you can, and it's there, then *snap* at some point 300 feet up that you didn't even know was worn almost through. Just the sun and rain will take their toll on the tensile strength of rope in pretty short order. Even if abrasion wasn't a problem, which it is, they'd still need to replace it every month or two. I don't think permanently rigging rope is practical or feasible. I does seem like the ladder could be designed in such a way that a person with two safety lines and two carabiners could climb from anchor to anchor fairly quickly, though again, even a 5-foot fall could leave you dangling up there, with a broken shoulder or something, and most likely, if you fell hard enough to hurt yourself, you'd die hanging there before you could be rescued, and how the hell would you stage a rescue? It'd be a cluster-fuck with a whole tower full of people trying to figure out how to get you down -- rigging pulleys, getting you onto a sked, etc. I'm no rescue expert, but I read things and talk to people, and from what I know, getting an injured, disabled person down from up there is nigh impossible.

These guys are probably doing it right.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 PM on September 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


I used to be chief engineer at a college radio station. Once a year or so we'd get a crew* to climb our tower to replace the beacon lamps. Our tower was 350 feet tall but unguyed -- a freestanding structure. One time a climber came down shaking and said it was the scariest climb he'd ever done.

I have nightmares of that stuff.

* we don't do it ourselves because A) the college wouldn't allow it and B) I'd tell the students to imagine climbing a 30-story building by stairs, and then add bird poop.
posted by intermod at 9:57 PM on September 14, 2010


I forced myself to watch all of it. It is the worst thing I have ever seen. Human Centipede couldn't be any worse than this.
posted by anazgnos at 10:00 PM on September 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


There was some involuntary sphincter tightening involved in watching this.
posted by tresbizzare at 10:12 PM on September 14, 2010


a stressed, weak rope is worse than no rope at all

If I was rigging a safety line, I'd use a steel cable under a little bit of tension, with a ratcheting belay car. That ought to last a while.

Remember, there's an elevator up to the 1600 ft level, so if someone fell and hurt themselves, it's "only" about 170 feet or so down, not the entire 1700+ feet.

I really doubt that anyone would rather just free-fall to their death rather than go through a harrowing rescue, and most of us would rather go through hell to rescue someone rather than scrape their remains off the ground.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:22 PM on September 14, 2010


this looked like a confident - and fun - climb!

but no way, no how, my kinda fun. I'm glad I watched this piece, but there's no way in hell I'd lead a climb like this (or follow)
posted by seawallrunner at 10:49 PM on September 14, 2010


I see somebody's already linked the amazing high voltage cable inspection video. (Previously discussed here.)

I'm not sure I can judge which one is crazier.
posted by kmz at 11:01 PM on September 14, 2010


If they can have the elevator go up to 1600 feet, what's so damn important about the last 168 feet? How much extra radius does the transmission get from the added 10% height?
posted by birdsquared at 11:10 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Recently on Japanese TV, a reporter doing a piece on a windmill climbed to the top. It was about as large as windmills get, I suppose, but still no elevator. Just a ladder inside that went straight up. In the center of the ladder, though, was a simple track that the climber used to clip into. I don't know what you'd call it--a carabiner? Which in turn was attached to a harness the climber wore.

It was an terribly clever and terribly simple system, and probably really cheap, too. These guys could climb at a normal pace and that carabiner would just follow them up, right at their chests. The fact that their bosses haven't thought of that shows a callous apathy towards their workers' safety.
posted by zardoz at 11:20 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


threeturtles, I've realized the urge and not being able to resist it is why I'm afraid of heights as well. I'm fine with planes, roller coasters, tall buildings and the rest, but put me next to a railing, and I'm terrified. Same with ferris wheels, ropeways/cable cars, and the rest. I love mountains, and I'd love to really go climbing, but I just can't. I need to stick to paths that don't involve ridges. It's just terrifying. It's kind of weird, but I can get a pretty accurate measure of how I'm doing mentally this way. If I'm utterly terrified, it's usually because I'm very, very down. In better times, I'm not as scared.

For years, I never said anything about the reason for my fear of heights, until another person told me they had the same reason. For them, they'd never told anyone either, and for both of us, it was an incredibly liberating moment. It's kind of nice to find out that you're not crazy, or at least that you're not crazy and alone.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:25 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another tower climb ( part one), an inspection of a 2,000 foot tall broadcast tower in Texas. The video gets interesting around 5:00, at around 1600 feet, as the inspectors ascend above scattered clouds that pass by and through the tower. The remaining footage is mesmerizing, as icebergs of clouds sail by. If you can't watch any other part, skip ahead to the end of part two, at around the 6:30 mark.
posted by prinado at 11:58 PM on September 14, 2010 [22 favorites]


Awesome, awesome post. Damn.
posted by V4V at 11:59 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of bummed it got taken down before I could watch it, except for the part where all of your comments make me very very glad the decision of whether or not to view was taken out of my hands.
posted by tzikeh at 12:01 AM on September 15, 2010


I have always had this irresistible urge to climb, especially tall, open man-made structures, so I figured I would enjoy this. It was cool - then he started climbing the pegs, and I remembered what those feel like on the hands and feet, even through gloved and boots. And then I though of what the exposure must be like up there. But the view was really cool.

Then he climbed up and stood on that little tiny platform that he had to share with the other dude, and all I could do was try to calculate the number of times your life would flash before your eyes before you hit the ground. Probably like four or five, or it would just end, the credits would roll, and you'd still be falling. Awkward.

And I will nth the sentiment fuck a climbing down. That's always the worst.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:12 AM on September 15, 2010


This is my job. Although I've been doing less climbing of late and more ground/tech work. These days I work primarily on cellular installations which generally aren't much taller than 100' or so, but when I started some years back it was mostly radio and tv towers where 300' is a short climb. My personal highest climb was a 2k' tv tower with an elevator to the 1800' level.

I suspect they pulled the video from the original site due to the fact that they're not practicing 100% tie off and he's not using an approved fall arrest device. The pelican hook and lanyard he's using to clip off every so often is considered a positioning device, and not designed for fall arrest. Normally a climber has two lanyards about 6' long attached to the back dorsal ring of the harness which are designed to stretch in the case of a fall and absorb some of the shock. As per OSHA, one of these should be attached to an anchor at all times. That said, these guys look like they know what they're doing. I wouldn't climb that way, but I've seen plenty of guys do so.

I suspect they were up troubleshooting the beacon. There's the bulb plus a couple other components which go bad from time to time and need replacing. There's not much else to work on at that point on the tower. The wind isn't as bad as some would think. Sometimes it can get a bit hairy, but if you're smart you check the weather before heading out.

Most cellular towers, monopoles, lattice, etc., have the wire cable safety climb devices that some of you have commented on, and I believe required on all new construction. They attach via carabiner to your chest so if you do manage to fall off the ladder, you're only going a couple inches before the cam device catches you. Most broadcast towers in my experience don't have these systems, and I can only think of one which had one retrofitted.

All in all it can be a fun and safe gig. Here's a pic I like to show folks to make their stomachs flop a bit. It's from about 500' up the KIRO tower in Seattle, the first tower I ever worked on.
posted by calamari kid at 12:23 AM on September 15, 2010 [142 favorites]


I'm kind of bummed it got taken down before I could watch it, except for the part where all of your comments make me very very glad the decision of whether or not to view was taken out of my hands.

Still available as far as I can tell. I did react more to it than I thought I would, but I would say it's still worth a watch. Just try not to wake anybody up with your repeated "oh shit oh shit what the fuck no way WHAT oh shit oh shit oh shit."

But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.

For me it's not about urge so much as just... the possibility. Like a lot of people, I'm only scared of heights when there's nothing to really prevent me from falling. Airplanes, totally enclosed tall buildings, etc, are fine. But if there's any height at all without a huge fucking wall, I tend to stay away. Doesn't matter if it's the Grand Canyon or the second balcony at a concert hall. It's just the thought that if somehow I tripped or had a leg spasm or somebody bumped into me, there's nothing stopping me from going over.

I have to admit though, I'm not sure I'd be able to do those invisible floor things at Sears Tower or the Grand Canyon, even though technically those are completely enclosed. I think my brain would be just "oh fuck we're hanging in air."
posted by kmz at 12:24 AM on September 15, 2010


I used to climb rocks and buildings, and wasn't afraid of heights. After a few major falls, I started to get very nervous about edges and heights. I don't think it was a consequence of the exposure to heights, or the falling itself. It was that each fall was accompanied by a moment or two at the end of a rope, looking down at the ground, thinking "Well, fuck me, if I hadn't been roped in, or my anchors had failed, I'd be just a bit dead". So the fear now isn't so much of heights per se, as it is of a lack of protection when around edges with drops next to them.

And just as an aside about why the bag on a line rather than a backpack - it's about the climbers body strength and geometry in relation to the object being climbed. You mostly use your leg muscles to climb, and reserve your arms for keeping your upper body attached and in a stable position, just because your arms are a whole lot weaker than your legs. Also, when you're climbing something vertical, you're almost always leaning out a little as you move upwards. If you've got a significant weight attached to your back, that pulls you out and away from the rock face/building/transmission tower and places a whole lot more extra strain on your arms than otherwise. That extra strain, over a long climb, would just waste your arms. Thus the haul bag.
posted by Ahab at 12:42 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the "do it with a helicopter" folks:

This is old footage of our attempt to swap out the top beacon from atop the 1,500-foot tall KSBW tower on top of Mt. Madonna in Gilroy, California. Upon finally getting the rope to Steve on top of the antenna, the pilot attempts to radio that he is going to lift the beacon. He accidentally depresses the "cut away" button instead of the "push to talk" and dropped the rigging. This can be seen at the very end of the helicopter footage where the rope goes slack. By the grace of God the unbolted beacon stayed at the top of the antenna and the rigging missed the man at 1,400 feet on the base of the antenna. We finished this job the old fashion way!


The mishap is at 5:20 but isn't captured very well, the shots from the ground of a guy dangling at the top of the tower are worth it though.
posted by Rumple at 12:49 AM on September 15, 2010


Oh yeah, they should totally send up a guy up there with a welding rig to put on a rail he can clip onto and stay clipped onto as he climbs. Put a camera on the welder as well.
posted by Rumple at 12:52 AM on September 15, 2010


It's not every day I see a guy nonchalantly do something that I would literally – and without hesitation – refuse an offer of ten million dollars to do myself.

Watching this video made my palms glisten with sweat, but for 10 million dollars I'm climbing up, climbing down, collecting my 10 million dollars, and spending a fair portion of it on whisky.
posted by pracowity at 2:16 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aaaaaaauuuuuugggggghhhhhh, no ... STOP! LOOKING! DOWN!

And then up, and then down!
posted by bwg at 2:24 AM on September 15, 2010


I've only every seen one video that made my palms sweat as much and that was some Russian lunatics hanging off a tower crane.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:42 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is one of the most interesting things I've seen in quite some time. I suspect the parachute is out of the question because of the weight. That said, I am sure it is extremely dangerous, but I suspect the climbers realize this, yet they do it, willingly. I wonder if there is an accident rate published out there somewhere. I'm reminded of these guys, except on crack. Awesome, just awesome.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:59 AM on September 15, 2010


The ease of just slipping off if you have a passing urge is what's truly frightening to me.

But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.


Holy fuck, wait. What?
posted by IvoShandor at 3:05 AM on September 15, 2010


I wonder if there is an accident rate published out there somewhere.

This was posted somewhere on metafilter a few days ago. Job 4 is transmission towers.
posted by Ahab at 3:10 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Physics question: Assuming no wind, if the guy was to full-bore jump off the very top, how far from the base would he land?

By my calculations, between 4 and 20 feet. And at every point between 4 and 20 feet.
posted by punilux at 3:27 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've only every seen one video that made my palms sweat as much and that was some Russian lunatics hanging off a tower crane.

Yeah. Ascention [sic] of the grue. Guys with no safety gear doing pull-ups with nothing but nothing between them and the street.

Also, there's that bloody El Camino del Rey.
posted by pracowity at 3:33 AM on September 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


Oh! I've played this video game. There's always a haystack at the bottom to land in.
posted by Ritchie at 4:01 AM on September 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some astute observations in the comments:

"He seems so agile. Surprising!  I would have thought his enormous balls would have got in his way more."
posted by molecicco at 4:26 AM on September 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can they not put the fuse box at the bottom?
posted by fire&wings at 4:26 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Totally, totally illogical place to be working. It's one thing to hang your ass off a rock face and call it a hobby. This is someone's everyday job, designed by people in an office, approved by a committee of trained and certified technicians. Climbing to the top wasn't some guys solution to how to change the light bulb. It was designed to be that way. THAT'S what blows my mind. I am also impressed with the people who put the tower up in the first place. What were they holding onto?
posted by birdwatcher at 4:41 AM on September 15, 2010


When I got to the bit with the spiky metal balls, I thought "Oh, they're probably just there to stop drunken idiots from climbing all over the… Oh, hold on."
posted by dudekiller at 5:00 AM on September 15, 2010


That's nothing, when I worked in a warehouse we used to get to the top racks by standing on the forks of the forklift and getting lifted up there like that. No safeguards! And we're talking thirty feet or more! We were CRAZY.
posted by Decani at 5:26 AM on September 15, 2010


But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.

I hear you. It's not about a particular suicidal urge (in my case) as much as the raw potential of the act. I'm very happy and relatively well-balanced, but the whole "wow, I could do something here in about a half-second that would be irrevocable and devastating" thing is a potent little head-noise.

No problem with firearms, subway platforms or crossing the street. Just heights, for me, and sometimes driving on heavy-traffic highways late at night. Absolutely zero desire to end my life, but an intense curiosity about the power to do it.
posted by Shepherd at 5:28 AM on September 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


Yeah. Ascention [sic] of the grue . Guys with no safety gear doing pull-ups with nothing but nothing between them and the street.

Thanks for that... and not Russians as I mis-remembered (probably first saw it with some Russian base jumping madness).

Also, there's that bloody El Camino del Rey

See also Mount Huashan .... snow! I'm not sure why but for me that last one was worse than all the rest put together...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:34 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I was rigging a safety line, I'd use a steel cable under a little bit of tension, with a ratcheting belay car. That ought to last a while.

A steel line would have absolutely no give. If you fell from even 5 feet above your anchor, you could easily snap your spine when your safety grabbed. Belay ropes are known as "dynamic" because they are meant to stretch when loaded. Even then, a fall from above the anchor point can be pretty painful. It's less-bad than dying of course, when you're rock climbing, but I don't see any way a traditional belay system would work, here. Not that there's absolutely nothing that could be done - I just don't think a steel cable is the answer.

Also, the more complexity you introduce, the greater the likelihood for failure, due to human error.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:34 AM on September 15, 2010


Most cellular towers, monopoles, lattice, etc., have the wire cable safety climb devices that some of you have commented on, and I believe required on all new construction. They attach via carabiner to your chest so if you do manage to fall off the ladder, you're only going a couple inches before the cam device catches you. Most broadcast towers in my experience don't have these systems, and I can only think of one which had one retrofitted.

Ah, missed this at first. A chest harness that keeps you close to the line so there's no fall factor seems like an elegant solution. You wouldn't have to constantly clip and unclip cows-tails as you climbed, which is where you have guys failing to use the system because it's cumbersome.

Curious: how do you down-climb on this sort of system?
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:42 AM on September 15, 2010


If they can have the elevator go up to 1600 feet, what's so damn important about the last 168 feet?

It rather defeats the purpose of having aviation warning lights if you don't put one at the very tip because otherwise how is a pilot in fog to know where the tower ends?

STOP! LOOKING! DOWN!

If this guy's the one out there doing the climbing I'd say he can damn look wherever he pleases.

Holy fuck, wait. What?

Sometimes when a thought pops into your head you have to spend a lot of energy reassuring yourself that you won't actually act on it. For example you're driving at high speed and you realize that if you suddenly jerked the wheel as you were going by a bridge or overpass you may possibly die. And then you get to thinking about how little of a jerk it would actually take, and that sometimes you have that 'back-spine-twingly-shudder' thing where your whole body briefly spasms. Or you think about the fact that the only thing keeping you alive is the fact that your executive function of your brain has enough control over your function to keep that muscle command a fantasy -- or does it? This all plays out in your head and even though you know you don't want to jerk the wheel -- or in the case of standing near the edge of a roof or ledge, jump off -- you know that it's possible that you could. This creates a feedback loop that just keeps amplifying the tension. In OCD patients that have a fear of contamination by germs, they will often be nervous around trash cans because they think that they might just pick up some garbage and eat it, which to their OCD is the equivalent of dying because they'd be irrevocably contaminated.

Anyway, a lot of people that are afraid of heights specifically list as a reason that they are worried that they might spontaneously jump off. Again, it has nothing to do with wanting to die and everything to do with this cycle of intrusive thoughts -- and you know how hard it is to forcibly make yourself not think about something once it's entered your mind.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:45 AM on September 15, 2010 [25 favorites]


I am also impressed with the people who put the tower up in the first place. What were they holding onto?

You clip yourself on to the section that's already been erected and secured while a crane lowers the next section into place from above, and then it's bolted or welded. Then that becomes the new stable section that you climb to the top of and everything repeats again until it's all in place.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:50 AM on September 15, 2010


See also Mount Huashan .... snow!

Yikes.
posted by pracowity at 5:53 AM on September 15, 2010


Sometimes when a thought pops into your head you have to spend a lot of energy reassuring yourself that you won't actually act on it.

Otherwise known as the imp of the perverse.
posted by empath at 5:57 AM on September 15, 2010


Curious: how do you down-climb on this sort of system?

The device only engages if you get moving too fast. You can see a picture of the most common device here. http://www.gravitec.com/equipment/ladder-safety/dbi-sala-lad-saf-sleeve/lad-ds-061165/ The gravitec site is worth poking around a bit if you're interested in this stuff. They provide fall safety and tower rescue training.

Hmmm...I seem to be failing at making links work. Here's the url for the pic I mentioned in my previous post. http://thombailey.com/tower/pics/kiro/IMG_0343.jpg
posted by calamari kid at 6:14 AM on September 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd just like to point out that this video has gone from 492 views when I saw it last night to 42,000 views this morning. I think we have a hit.
posted by mediareport at 6:17 AM on September 15, 2010


@mendel what a tower-climbing-guy would make?

The man I talked to a couple decades back told me it can go into the thousands. Per trip. Not something done every day, of course.

Someone asked why the antenna has to be taller than the supporting structure. The antenna has to radiate above the metal tower, in the clear. The tower would severely disturb (and weaken) the output signal. The transmission line (up to the base of the antenna) doesn't radiate. (Hold your phone's antenna next to a grounded metal pipe sometime and see how well it works.)
posted by Twang at 6:18 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Upon reflection, this clip combines all of my greatest fears -- heights, work, and youtube.
posted by mazola at 6:19 AM on September 15, 2010 [17 favorites]


I found this exhilarating. The thing about being in a situation like that is that it provides such clarity. It comes down to you, and the tower. And you know that if you lose your nerve, there's not a lot of good that can come of it. It really forces you to take things step by step, focus on the next right action. Most of us here on the ground could use a dose of that, esp. when we're freaking out about the big picture. You've just got to grab the next rung, and the next. You can give up, but there are consequences.
posted by Eideteker at 6:19 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imp_of_the_perverse

(I specifically remember Valerie Bertinelli's character on "Cafe American" having just this issue with climbing the Eiffel Tower. It was not about the height so much as the urge to jump.)

Musical interlude.
posted by Eideteker at 6:23 AM on September 15, 2010


I would fucking love to do this. What a truly glorious moment.
posted by antihostile at 6:28 AM on September 15, 2010


That's the most hilariously visceral video I think I've ever seen.

That antenna is like a reattach big monument to the Imp of the perverse.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:44 AM on September 15, 2010


Hello, elephant in the room much? C'mon people, this guy is impressive and all, but no props for the cameraman sitting on his head?
posted by SNACKeR at 7:03 AM on September 15, 2010 [23 favorites]


Sphincter? Check.

Sweaty/tingly palms? Check.

Bottom of feet, sweaty/tingly? Check.

Wow!
posted by ericb at 7:05 AM on September 15, 2010


Needs a zipline to get down. Then it would be an E-ticket ride, and you would have to wait in line on that ladder.
posted by Balisong at 7:09 AM on September 15, 2010


Do not like it. (But at the same time, great post!)
posted by Shfishp at 7:10 AM on September 15, 2010


As a bit of a barfly, I tend to meet some interesting people, and one time at my favorite watering hole, a guy cam in wearing a harness and carrying a tool bag, so I struck up a conversation with him. Turned out he was on one of these crews and was having a drink after a long day at work. He was in his late fifties and had a ton of stories, but my favorite was the one about how he got started: Apparently he was a custodian at a TV station (WIS in Columbia, SC if anyone is curious) and his supervisor came around and asked him if he's like a little bonus. If he'd climb to the top of the TV tower to change the bulb, he'd get $50 and a pint of whiskey. So they drove out to Lugoff the next afternoon, the supervisor gave him a the bulb and a shot of whiskey and up he went. No ropes, no harness, no hard hat, just a screwdriver in his jeans pocket and a large light bulb. He said being up at the top, juggling everything was a little nerve racking, but that being done, sitting up there and looking at the world curve away from him was the coolest thing ever. After that, he felt pushing a broom was a sucker's job and became a tower tech.

Did I buy him a drink? Oh, you better believe it.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:19 AM on September 15, 2010 [20 favorites]


insane.

Isn't this what robots are for?
posted by Theta States at 7:23 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The narration is perfect -- everyone watching is terrified, and he's describing the engineering features. As if we all logged in because we'd always wondered: how do they deal with thermal expansion of a transmission tube?

These spiky flowers, on their long stems, are used to attract electrical charges in the air. intended to cause you wusses to imagine the pain of falling as well as the sheer terror.
posted by Killick at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why use a robot when you can get guys to do it for $50 and a pint of whiskey?
posted by geoff. at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


"I just can't get over climbing with a 30lb bag dangling on a long tether, swinging, getting snagged, etc. It makes no sense to me. Get a low-profile alpine pack and put it on you back!"

Besides the extra stress this puts on your arms it also isn't practical in the early stage of the climb where you are in an enclosed cage. It should be possible to design the bulb change to be tool-less though. It's not like you'd have to worry about tampering.

"It was an terribly clever and terribly simple system, and probably really cheap, too. These guys could climb at a normal pace and that carabiner would just follow them up, right at their chests. The fact that their bosses haven't thought of that shows a callous apathy towards their workers' safety."

The big difference is the cable you describe is inside an enclosed tower where it is protected from wind and the elements. On the outside of the tower that cable would both need regular maintenance and it would need regular standoffs to prevent it from rubbing against the tower decreasing it's convenience. I wonder if something couldn't be done with a rail. It could be ridgidly attached the whole way and the slider wouldn't have to be transferred except at transition points. It woul add even more weight though.
posted by Mitheral at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2010


woodblock100, you don't really understand how evolution works, do you?

Lacking a fear of heights is a perfectly viable trait for an organism with innate climbing (or flying) abilities, because heights don't pose much of a danger to that organism.

As soon as the organism loses its climbing abilities (say, by evolving away from an arboreal lifestyle and toward a terrestrial one), heights do become a serious danger, and that lack of fear becomes a serious liability.

When dealing with an organism that doesn't have great climbing skills, natural selection is obviously going to favor individuals who avoid heights—because the individuals who don't avoid heights are going to remove themselves from the gene pool.

I mean, we're averse to heights for the exact same reason we're averse to eating rotten food, standing still while tigers charge us, and sticking our arms in campfires. Not really sure what you're confused about, or why you'd expect us to have retained this one trait (fearlessness of heights) from our arboreal ancestors when we've obviously lost so many others.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:35 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


AskMe.
posted by ericb at 7:43 AM on September 15, 2010


But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.

Holy fuck, wait. What?


It's a pretty common, and well-documented phenomenon. Most people experience it along subway platforms.

And also, I might as well add an OMGWTF comment to this thread. Looks like I'll have an extra $6 in my pocket, since there's no way I'll be able to eat lunch today.
posted by schmod at 7:43 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see somebody's already linked the amazing high voltage cable inspection video. (Previously discussed here.)

I'm not sure I can judge which one is crazier.


The cable inspection video is a relaxing vacation compared to the tower video. In fact, as soon as we finished watching it, we loaded up the cable inspection video to calm down.
posted by odinsdream at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2010


The video you really don't want to see is the downclimb. Way harder, way more terrifying.
posted by that's candlepin at 8:01 AM on September 15, 2010


Yeah. Ascention [sic] of the grue . Guys with no safety gear doing pull-ups with nothing but nothing between them and the street.

That video was also discussed in this FPP.
posted by ericb at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2010


I just kept saying STOP CLIMBING STOP CLIMBING YOU'RE HIGH ENOUGH ALREADY NOW STOP CLIMBING. Cripes.
posted by notmydesk at 8:12 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh thank god, other people get that oh-god-I-might-jump impulse too. I've gotten that all my life and I hate it. Is there a name for it?
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:15 AM on September 15, 2010


Somehow when my second child was a baby...

What was the first one, a puppy? sorry
posted by cmoj at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, that was fucking terrifying, but also amazing. All I can say is, thank FSM they didn't post the video of him going *down*, because I know I'd have to watch it, and then I would be freaked out for the rest of the week. Going down is *always* worse than going up.
posted by ashirys at 8:25 AM on September 15, 2010


I work with firefighters and every time they climb an aerial ladder (about 50 m) I practically pee with fear just watching them. I'm glad I was sitting down to watch this. Now, a quick visit to the ladies' washroom to throw up, a short nap, and I'll be ready to work again.
posted by angiep at 8:31 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metroid Baby: covered here in this thread.
posted by komara at 8:38 AM on September 15, 2010


As noted in the comments, and worth repeating here: "Good thing they're wearing helmets."
posted by howling fantods at 8:44 AM on September 15, 2010


I had to sit down and cling to the floor about 3 minutes into that video.

Wow. That was awful.
posted by zarq at 8:46 AM on September 15, 2010


ashirys wrote: "Okay, that was fucking terrifying, but also amazing. All I can say is, thank FSM they didn't post the video of him going *down*, because I know I'd have to watch it, and then I would be freaked out for the rest of the week. Going down is *always* worse than going up."

Yeah, getting on a ladder from the top sucks. So do those crazy transitions he has to do between segments. They're bad enough going up.

Once you're actually on the ladder, though, it's not so bad. At least not when you're only 50 feet up or a hundred feet up. Maybe it's different when you're 10 to 20 times that height in the air.

I've been thinking about it more, and it's weird how I'll happily climb up onto my roof but then have to summon almost every ounce of will in my mind and body to get back on the ladder to descend. When I was a kid, I'd just jump. I'm surprised I never broke any bones doing that.

These days, when I have to get somewhere high, I can usually enlist the help of a forklift, because the work is almost always out in one of my clients' warehouses. I was a bit nervous the first time I stepped off the forklift onto a stack of pallets of beer, though. I know intellectually that a couple of beer cans will hold my entire weight, but there's something that seems just wrong about being 20 feet in the air with nothing but beer cans to keep you up there.

Even if I could manage to climb towers, I still couldn't do the job. I drop shit way too often.
posted by wierdo at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2010


"Good thing they're wearing helmets."

It would be if the helmet prevented something from falling from above and knocking them loose.
posted by quin at 8:49 AM on September 15, 2010


"Good thing they're wearing helmets."

Also bumping their head on stanchions, bolts, overhangs etc esp during the enclosed part of the climb.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:05 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, the Imp of the Perverse. How I hate you. The little bugger shows up in far less could-be-fatal moments as well. Ben Elton used to do a routine (never referencing the Imp, alas) about the Imp at weddings. You're sitting there, happy for your friend who is about to become a bride or groom, and the officiant asks if anyone knows of any reason that these two people should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace...

"WOULDN'T IT BE AWFUL IF YOU SAID SOMETHING NOW?! YOU COULD SAY SOMETHING NOW AND IT WOULD BE AWFUL! DON'T SAAAAAAAY AANNNNNNYTHIIIIING...."

With absolutely no facts or data to back me up, I'd say the number of people who act upon the advice of the Imp, in any given situation, approaches nil, but when it's something truly dangerous ("Wow, if I just took one step forward, I'd fall all the way down this enormous cliff off of the Amalfi Drive and into the Tyrrhenian Sea!"), and it's a constant companion, I think people are right to keep themselves away from, er, temptation, as it were.
posted by tzikeh at 9:08 AM on September 15, 2010


It's remarkable that he never looks up to the top of the antenna. Looking up is worse than looking down, I suppose.
posted by The World Famous at 9:11 AM on September 15, 2010


"It would be if the helmet prevented something from falling from above and knocking them loose."

"Also bumping their head on stanchions, bolts, overhangs etc esp during the enclosed part of the climb."

Yeah, yeah.. I know there are reasons to wear a helmet besides "in case you fall." Curse you, logic!
posted by howling fantods at 9:16 AM on September 15, 2010


I'm wondering if the part of your brain that imagines worst-case scenarios is the same part of your brain that formulates plans, and its up to some other part of the brain to determine which is which.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.

Oh, me too! I can't even stand taking pictures in such areas because I have the urge to toss my camera off.

I once read that the term for this in french is "l'appel du vide" (the call of the void) This is almost certainly an invented idiom, but I like it anyway.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like heights. I love tall buildings. I adore a great view. I enjoy flying.

But I have a deep seated fear of PRECIPICES. I cannot understand the fact that in a place where I could fall or jump, nothing is preventing that except my own brain and force of will. I simply cannot look at the edge of something higher than a couple stairs and grasp why I have not already fallen.

I watched this to see if I could stand to. Turns out I could. But just barely, and not twice.
posted by kostia at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2010


I can see my house from there!
posted by not_on_display at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2010


Lord that made me anxious.
posted by domnit at 9:27 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But then, I've discovered through long experimentation that what I hate about heights is the urge to jump off them and the feeling I might accidentally do it.

Add me to the list. It's not suicidal, it's not a fear of falling, it's just the weird fear that I might, suddenly, for some reason, decide to jump.

I remember reading about a guy who had to handcuff himself to his steering wheel when he drove across a bridge, for fear that he might decide to stop his car and jump off. Bizarre and hard to explain, but I get it.
posted by notmydesk at 9:32 AM on September 15, 2010


Sorry to do this to you all, but here's a video of a guy base jumping from a 2000-foot radio tower (first helmet-cam, then from a camera on the tower).

WHEEEEEEE! Thanks, I'm awake now.

God I want to do that someday.
posted by homunculus at 9:33 AM on September 15, 2010


This is my job.

I want in. Tips?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:34 AM on September 15, 2010


I guess I'd have made it to the top if my life depended on it, but I'd have needed clean pants when I got there. Holy shitake.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:35 AM on September 15, 2010


The big difference is the cable you describe is inside an enclosed tower where it is protected from wind and the elements. On the outside of the tower that cable would both need regular maintenance and it would need regular standoffs to prevent it from rubbing against the tower decreasing it's convenience. I wonder if something couldn't be done with a rail. It could be ridgidly attached the whole way and the slider wouldn't have to be transferred except at transition points. It woul add even more weight though.

There are a couple of different rail systems that you run into every once in awhile. One uses a round rail and is a real bitch if conditions are even a bit icy. These are older systems which I don't think are installed any more. If the transitions between rail sections aren't spot on they'll hang up. You can only remove the device at the top and bottom of the tower, so if you get stuck you're SOL. There's newer rail system which resembles unistrut with a device that rides in the channel. This device also can only be removed from the top or bottom of the tower.

The cable systems do have standoffs with rubber grips that hold the cable in place. They're slotted so you just pop the cable out as you climb up and back in as you climb down. The safety climb device can be removed at any point which is useful when there's an obstruction, like cables or antenna frames, that you need to climb around to reach your working height.
posted by calamari kid at 9:43 AM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh thank god, other people get that oh-god-I-might-jump impulse too. I've gotten that all my life and I hate it. Is there a name for it?

Dunno, but I vividly remember hearing Bjork's "Hyper-Ballad" for the first time and thinking exactly that - thank god I'm not the only person who's gotten it.
posted by jbickers at 9:44 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is my job.

I want in. Tips?


Contact your local broadcasters and ask who they use. You could also check the yellow pages for outfits that have telecom, wireless, and/or construction in their names. I think NATE (National Association of Tower Erectors) keeps a database of tower outfits. You might be able to get names of companies in your area from them. If you've got any construction or climbing experience that's a plus. If you're in the Seattle area drop me a PM and I can give you some names of outfits to check out.
posted by calamari kid at 9:57 AM on September 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm happy to find other people get tactile reactions in the bottoms of their feet. The Imp, yea, that too, but I've lived over 2 years in a 7th floor apartment, so that's rather immaterial now.

I am extremely fascinated how strong the reaction to this video is. I reacted quite a bit, but that didn't surprise me. My height issue isn't the drop-off or the height. Oh, it hurts to think of it, my fear was that he would look up.

Even an ordinary house antenna will mess with me, if I look up. To look up is to tall backwards, and backwards falling is extremely frightening to me. For that matter, going over backwards on an amusement ride will make me come unglued, most of the time.

But the fear I have is mild enough I can amuse myself by teasing it. So I like the video.
posted by Goofyy at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2010


Oh dear god, my sphincter just closed so tight so fast I think it has impact welded itself shut...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:16 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, I watched it. Right up until the 7.20 mark when he is stood right on the very top, and lets go of everything so he can sort out and then attach his safety harness. At that point I make have sworn a little...

I don't have a TV. I didn't kill the dude...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2010


I am going to stay here, nice and safe, at the bottom of this thread.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:26 AM on September 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


For me, part of the appeal of skydiving is surrendering to the aforesaid Imp.
posted by zamboni at 10:31 AM on September 15, 2010


I think it's really important to do something every so often that really scares the crap out of you. It makes the day-to-day challenges that much more manageable.

And that's why I watched the video until the end.
posted by rouftop at 10:32 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are there no robots who will do this for us?
posted by Beardman at 10:40 AM on September 15, 2010


Oh, and in the video they call what he is doing "free climbing." It's actually free soloing. Free climbing means you are climbing without aid but there is gear in place to protect you in case of a fall.

Everyone has probably heard of him but Alan Robert is one of the best (skip to 1:10) free soloers. He's climbed some really tall structures. Here's a cool video interview going over some of the more impressive climbs he's done.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:58 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why we need personal back-mounted dirigibles.

I don't want to talk to a scientist who says that wouldn't be possible. Y'all motherfuckers lyin', and gettin' me pissed.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


2 Guys, 1 Clip
posted by gern at 11:32 AM on September 15, 2010


Anyone know where that tower is?
posted by timsteil at 11:40 AM on September 15, 2010


Anyone know where that tower is?

Currently? No, sorry. Later tonight you'll be able to find it in my nightmares though.
posted by komara at 11:41 AM on September 15, 2010


I can see my house from there!

I totally just heard that in the Agency Director's voice. (Got Crackdown 2 from Goozex on Saturday and I know these are stupid games with simple gameplay, but goddamnit I need to get all those orbs...)
posted by kmz at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2010


Physics question: Assuming no wind, if the guy was to full-bore jump off the very top, how far from the base would he land?

Neglecting air resistance altogether, he would accelerate towards the ground at about g = 32 ft/s^2, and his falling time t would be such that d = 1/2*g*t^2, where d is the height of the tower, 1768 ft., meaning that t = sqrt(2d/g) = about 10.5 seconds. If he jumped with a sideways velocity of 15 mph = 22 ft/s (half the human speed record for running), he'd go 231 feet sideways before he hit the ground.

Then, since he's obviously the toughest person in the universe, I imagine he'd dust himself off, climb back to the top, and try to break that record.
posted by albrecht at 11:55 AM on September 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Hitting the ground would obviously be inelastic, but I imagine he'd get a few feet from bounces.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2010


If he jumped with a sideways velocity of 15 mph = 22 ft/s (half the human speed record for running)

You had me up until this point. The guy can't get any speed up at all - he's on a tower. What's the record distance for standing jump?
posted by komara at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2010


Ah. This page says the average standing long jump is 7.5ft. Now how far would he get from the tower?
posted by komara at 12:05 PM on September 15, 2010


(I realize you gave speed and I gave distance but I am still confident you can make something work from this)
posted by komara at 12:06 PM on September 15, 2010


My dad was an ironworker; a bridge builder.
He did this kind of stuff while working on the site.
Mackinac Bridge
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
World Trade Center.

He gave me advice when I was growing up: get an education, work indoors.

Thanks, dad.
posted by Drasher at 12:14 PM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


The guy can't get any speed up at all - he's on a tower. What's the record distance for standing jump?

Ok, good point. I was just using 15 mph as a reasonable guess before.

Ah. This page says the average standing long jump is 7.5ft. Now how far would he get from the tower?

So, assuming those people are jumping at a 45 degree angle to maximize distance, their initial horizontal and vertical velocity should be the same. So if t is the time to make such a jump, d is the distance jumped, and v is the velocity in the horizontal direction, then d = vt, and since it takes time t for the vertical component of velocity to accelerate from +v to -v as well, 2v = gt. Hence, d/v = 2v/g and v = sqrt(dg/2) = 11 ft/sec. However, that's just their horizontal component, so assuming he generated the same total initial speed as the jumpers but directed it all sideways, he'd generate v*sqrt(2) = 15.5 ft/sec, so his total falling distance in 10.5 seconds would be 162 ft.
posted by albrecht at 12:39 PM on September 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


I love people that math for me. Thanks, albrecht.
posted by komara at 12:55 PM on September 15, 2010


My interior dialog went something like this:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


"This is why we need personal back-mounted dirigibles."

Well, sure, if you want to drift all over the place with the wind. Climbing with them on would just be exhausting; they'd want to go with the wind, and you'd feel like there was a giant weight dragging you sideways (and then sometimes violently whipping in the opposite direction as the wind changes). I mean, yeah, you might not die when you got dragged off, but you'd never make it to the top.

"I am going to stay here, nice and safe, at the bottom of this thread."

Not if I have anything to type about it. >=D
posted by Eideteker at 1:07 PM on September 15, 2010


I wouldn't do this, even if they paid me a septillion dollars.
posted by livingdots at 1:44 PM on September 15, 2010


I wouldn't do this, even if they paid me a septillion dollars.

I'd try, but I am pretty confident that there would be full-body lockup at about 50 feet up.
posted by komara at 2:01 PM on September 15, 2010


Here's the url for the pic I mentioned in my previous post. http://thombailey.com/tower/pics/kiro/IMG_0343.jpg

I bet you want us to think that's red paint and not the blood of those who have gone before you.
posted by Evilspork at 2:27 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this something you'd need a TV to understand?
posted by mazola at 2:27 PM on September 15, 2010


August 14, 2009 - The head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administrationlast year said that communications tower climbers had the highest fatality rate per 100,000 workers compared to other professions in the US.

and it continues with

"What began as research in 2008 as to how Canadian tower climbers weathered sub-zero temperatures ..."
posted by mdoar at 4:13 PM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The video was pulled by the time I read this. Not that it made any difference, my ass is clenched as tight as a vice just from reading the descriptions in the thread.
posted by Mcable at 4:27 PM on September 15, 2010


From theonlineengineer.org website:
"Where’d the video go?

I sent out an email this weekend advertising a new video about tower climbing. It was a great video and I wish I could show it to you but the person I got it from expressed some concerns about how it reflected on the tower industry and ask me to take it down. So I did. But not to worry, we have agreed to work on more videos in the near future and I am sure they will be as good or better than the one I had to take down.

Sorry if you feel mislead or cheated but it was the only thing I could do.

I will let you all know when we have more videos on tower climbing, hopefully in the very near future. Thanks for tuning in.

-- Russ."
posted by ericb at 4:36 PM on September 15, 2010


Here's the video posted elsewhere.

eBaum has it, but I'm not linking to it there.
posted by ericb at 4:40 PM on September 15, 2010


I've sent a message (via contact) to the mods, suggesting they replace the video link in the FPP.
posted by ericb at 4:44 PM on September 15, 2010


Golly.

Though I'm a little afraid of heights, watching the video was fine most of the way through. I was admiring and a little woozy, but not feeling much atavistic height anxiety --- right until he got up to the top and looked around for a moment before clipping his carabiner into place. At that point, I found myself involuntarily repeating a request in a tight shrill voice, the kind of voice that's starved for oxygen because your brain has forgotten that you need to breathe.

My repeated request: "Please clip on. Please clip on. Please clip. Please clip. Please clip. Please ahhh."

As they approached the tippy-top, I suddenly started perceiving his climbing companion as a threat, not an assistant. I wonder if that is also my ape ancestors speaking loudly in my brain.
posted by Elsa at 5:32 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was so irritated to read that "the person I got it from expressed some concerns about how it reflected on the tower industry" business. That's both literally true and entirely crap. The worker isn't following safety standards to the letter, possibly because he prefers it but more probably because he's under pressure, and this video shows everybody how it's done in an addictive viral way.

I suppose I've followed this whole thread because I don't have an Imp of the Perverse, I have a full-blown Demon of the Perverse. When I'm at more height than I can handle, I will sit down and walk backwards on my hands if I have to, just to get away from the terrible head-spinning thought. So this video is a real vicarious thrill.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2010


I have eaten
the plums
that were on
the top of the 1768 ft tall transmission tower

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:48 PM on September 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Another link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXuzrIN_x2M
posted by Cathedral at 8:04 PM on September 15, 2010


[changed the main link to a working one at OPs request, thanks to them & ericb for the nudge. carry on.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:16 PM on September 15, 2010


You know an activity is dangerous when just watching a video of someone else doing it is a daredevil achievement in its own right!
posted by Crane Shot at 9:23 PM on September 15, 2010


I hope it's not too terrifying up there at the pinnacle of this towering spindle of a thread.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:58 PM on September 15, 2010


I have the opposite reaction to the Imp of the Perverse to most of you. I love heights because of the thought that I could jump at any moment...but I won't. I had a girlfriend who was afraid of guns because of the thought that she could open fire and shoot everyone around her. I didn't say it, but when she told me that, my thought was "That's why they're so cool."

I guess I feel pleased with myself that I don't actually do all the horrible things that occur to me when the opportunity arises.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:41 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh, this looks fucking exhilarating. I kind of want to do it.
posted by spiderskull at 1:34 AM on September 16, 2010


I have the opposite reaction to the Imp of the Perverse to most of you. I love heights because of the thought that I could jump at any moment...but I won't. I had a girlfriend who was afraid of guns because of the thought that she could open fire and shoot everyone around her. I didn't say it, but when she told me that, my thought was "That's why they're so cool."

I guess I feel pleased with myself that I don't actually do all the horrible things that occur to me when the opportunity arises.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:41 AM on September 16 [+] [!]


Uh, this looks fucking exhilarating. I kind of want to do it.
posted by spiderskull at 4:34 AM on September 16 [+] [!]


Thank god. I was beginning to think I was weird. I'd love to get paid for this.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:37 AM on September 16, 2010


I have eaten
the plums
that were on
the top of the 1768 ft tall transmission tower

and which
you were probableeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.......

--------

New poem:

Who wants some plum jam?
It is still warm and slighly redder than I expected.
posted by lalochezia at 4:52 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


so much depends
upon

a red light
bulb

in need of
repair

1768 ft up a transmission
tower
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:34 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was going to send this to my dad but he has a heart condition.
posted by mecran01 at 7:57 PM on September 16, 2010


> I was going to send this to my dad but he has a heart condition.

Ha. I just sent it to my 65-year-old dad. His response was "OMG"

I just noticed the link in the FPP was changed to a pretty compressed/blocky copy. I happened to pull down the MP4 while it was still on youtube if it's of use to anybody. Not exactly HD, but a little smoother than what's linked: have at.
posted by churl at 8:43 PM on September 16, 2010


Seems the video has been pulled, with the original youtube poster explaining here.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:37 AM on September 17, 2010


Too late, huh? Trying to get something this popular off of the innarnets is like trying to extract pee from a swimming pool.
(I stole that line from NewsRadio)
posted by not_on_display at 12:26 PM on September 17, 2010


I'm not sure whether everyone commenting realises that a guy who does exactly this for a living is actively commenting in the thread in exactly the matter-of-fact way that the very brave usually talk about their heroics.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:54 PM on September 17, 2010


I was going to sidebar that tomorrow!
posted by jessamyn at 4:06 PM on September 17, 2010


If nothing else, because I barely got two minutes into that video, this post has introduced me to the concept of the Imp of the Perverse and I know other people think about jumping from heights, even when they have no desire to kill themselves. So a genuine thanks to everyone who confessed to that. I feel better!
posted by crossoverman at 5:52 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to work for TV station that had a tower...either 40 or higher or lower than the Sears Tower. One night I figured I would climb it. Made it about 20 ft and said fuck this shit.

As a sidebar, it was a religious TV station in the country, came in and flipped on this massive signal, and scrambled everybody's TVs for miles. One of the part time engineers actually started a side business selling filters to block it out so folks could still get regular channels.

Super Bowl sunday, this bass player I knew who lived nearby had had enough. He got out his hunting rifle and drove over and shot the thing dead. Got a small fine, and a thankful rural county.

Seriously, that dude has such huge balls, I was just waiting for him to get to the top, then stop and whip out a sandwich and a thermos of coffee or something. Possibly a magazine.
posted by timsteil at 8:01 PM on September 18, 2010


This looks like pure fun to me.

When I was younger, my friends and I would hop over the fences at construction sites and climb the building cranes, sort of like the (French?) guys in the "grue" video someone linked above. Not nearly as high as the antenna tower, but more than high enough to make a good splat if you fell. There was always a section at the top where you transitioned from climbing a ladder in a cage to climbing out in the open, and that moment always made my sphincter clench in a big way. So compared to doing it in the rain, with no safety gear, smoking some joints up on top, and then giggling all the way down, this video looks to me like a model of safety. We took some risks, but we were never dumb enough to hang off the bottom and do pull ups. That's just begging for trouble.

If I were to lose my job tomorrow, I think I'd look into if I could get work on a wind turbine crew or something like this. There's something very nice about being up on top of tall things, seeing the world from a new perspective.
posted by Forktine at 7:43 AM on September 19, 2010


threeturtles: The ease of just slipping off if you have a passing urge is what's truly frightening to me.

The imp of the perverse.
posted by WCityMike at 7:52 AM on September 19, 2010


WCityMike: The imp of the perverse.

*chastises self for not noticing it's been mentioned already*
posted by WCityMike at 7:56 AM on September 19, 2010


I have no idea if I would be able to do this for a living or not, but damn I would love to find out.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:52 AM on September 19, 2010


I remember reading about a guy who had to handcuff himself to his steering wheel when he drove across a bridge, for fear that he might decide to stop his car and jump off. Bizarre and hard to explain, but I get it.

Driving near large drops is even worse than standing near them, for me. The thought that with just a little twitch of the hand...
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:02 PM on September 19, 2010


I've always liked heights. While in the early part of my broadcast career, I managed to talk my boss into letting me do some maintenance on a 200' guyed tower. It was great!

I didn't get another chance because my boss's boss decided they weren't insured for this sort of work done by staff, and the opportunity never presented itself again. I don't think I would have tackled a 1,000' + TV tower, though...

Now - small, deep caves or holes, or scuba-diving into caverns or into wrecks... THAT scares the pants off of me.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:48 PM on September 19, 2010


All in all it can be a fun and safe gig. Here's a pic I like to show folks to make their stomachs flop a bit.

Ok, there's something hilarious about the fact that your technical climbing shoes consist of battered Chuck Taylors.
posted by mecran01 at 9:40 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I made it to where he sees the top of the antenna. Knowing what came next, I closed the browser window.

My scrotum is up somewhere in the middle of my abdomen. I think it's looking for my missing spine.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:11 AM on September 20, 2010


I had trouble just with the ladders in Tikal. I don't normally have problems with heights, but not having any safety fallback makes it so much more terrifying.
posted by smackfu at 11:52 AM on September 20, 2010


All in all it can be a fun and safe gig. Here's a pic I like to show folks to make their stomachs flop a bit.

Ok, there's something hilarious about the fact that your technical climbing shoes consist of battered Chuck Taylors.


Heh, err...ummm, yeah, that was in the early days. About 80% of our work was painting and a pair of shoes would be pretty much trashed after a job or two. Laying out a hundred bucks for a decent pair of work boots every other job just wasn't in the budget. Don't tell OSHA. ;-)
posted by calamari kid at 3:11 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


My god!

Every time he took a hand off I thought I was going to barf.
posted by serazin at 12:49 AM on September 21, 2010


There are a couple guys base jumping off a cable stayed tower in this YT video posted by Matt a while ago.
posted by Mitheral at 12:02 AM on September 28, 2010


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