So obvious

I hold this firm belief that if superficially something is apparently blindingly obvious, that that is probably the point you need to start asking questions at.

Like climbing on spikes.

Or using a ladder.

Anybody can use a ladder.

Yet, start discussing it in a group and you realize that often as not everybody is talking about different things. As was the case when setting the Aerial Rescue scenario for ITCC in Toronto last year – this involved an injured climber at the top of a ladder – : discussing this in the set-up group and trying to work out what best practice would be in such a case showed a sizable blind spot.

So, asking questions is probably the way to go to gain a better understanding.

Another example? Work positioning on a spar. Easy enough, you whip around your lanyard and spike your way up. However, when it comes to dynamic movement of the stem when snatching bits of stem or planning for emergencies, things get a little more complex.

This is an illustration I did for some info panels we will be using next week for a two day event for the St. Gallen forestry commission discussing various climbing, work positioning and aerial rescue issues with their forestry workers.

So these questions are not without their challenges.

Solutions need to be practicable, not over-complex and suited to the needs of the clientele you are dealing with. However, I am very clear in my own mind, that regardless of whom you are talking about, certain parameters need to be fulfilled, such as:

  • There shall be a two point attachment to the stem
  • At least one of the attachment points shall be cut resistant
  • At least one of the attachment points shall choked against the stem, preventing the lanyard from flipping over the top in a dynamic situation and a sliding fall in case of de-gaffing
  • The lower attachment shall not be so low as to flip the climber backwards in case of the upper attachment point failing.
  • The adjustment devices should be adjustable under load
  • One of the attachment points shall allow the climber to lower him or herself to the ground one-handed

So, as I said, there is actually lots to talk about here, as, whilst the perception may be that this is something that is easy to do (anybody can block down a stem), in actual fact, good work positioning and planning for emergency is less so.