Single Handed Mast Climbing

Petzl Ascension and I’D for Single Handed Mast Climbing

Sadly my crew had to pull out at the very last moment from my planned sail to the Isle of Man due to work pressure. So I think the sail will have to be cancelled as I don’t really fancy walking in the Isle of Man by myself. While I am in Troon I will tackle some of those jobs which never happened before the Peaks Race.
My AquaSignal steaming light has been a bit unreliable recently so I decided to have a look at it. I prefer someone else to be around when mast climbing but that is not always possible so I’ve got some gear which allows me to climb by myself. I use a piece of Petzl kit called an I’D. That stands for “Industrial Descender” but it can actually be used for ascending and descending. I secure a suitable braided rope halyard so a length of rope hangs down from the top of the mast. I then clip on a Petzl Ascension with a foot loop which is used to rise up the rope using leg power. The I’D is attached by a karabiner to my harness* and then the halyard is correctly threaded through the I’D. The slack tail of the rope is pulled through the I’D and then you sit back in the harness so the I’D takes the weight. You can now slide the Ascension up the halyard and climb another couple of feet using the foot loop and again take up the slack through the I’D. It only takes a few minutes to climb halfway up the mast. The foot loop can be used to occasionally stand on and relieve pressure from the harness while working in position. Once the work is complete the Ascension can be removed from the rope and a fully controlled descent can be made through the I’D. The lever on the side has to be held in the exact position or the device will grab the rope and stop the descent. The descent is very easy and smooth and you don’t need to swap equipment. The I’D does it all.
Obviously there is no safety back up to this method of climbing so it is crucial the rope and equipment are thoroughly inspected before climbing.

If you feel a back up is essential then a second halyard could be used with a Petzl ASAP attached to your harness with an ASAPsorber. It will trail alongside your harness, both up and down, but it will lock onto the rope should there be any acceleration.

*The harness should be fitted with shoulder straps and ideally comply with recent Work at Height regulations.

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