Tower Climbing Tools & Tips From the Pros

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Wind power pro James Jarvis suited up for tower-top work.
Four of the six pros interviewed chose the Petzl Grillon adjustable work positioning lanyard as a must-have tool for up-tower jobs.
A rescue pulley is good for more than just emergencies—it allows changing the rope angle or halving the strength needed to pull loads.
An array of various slings comes in handy for many uses.
A Lad-Saf cam ascender.
A Lad-Saf cam ascender offers fall protection on a permanently attached, fixed cable. The orange line is an adjustable positioning lanyard (in this case, a steel-core lanyard), attached through the tower while the author takes a break on the way up. The yellow strap is attached to the author’s seat D-rings, providing temporary seated rest.
Gear bags of various sizes, with drawstring closures, come in handy for ropes, tools and hardware.
Multitools provide a variety of uses—knife, screwdriver, pliers—in one lightweight package.
The Petzl I’D can be used for a multitude of things, such as Z-haul and fall-restraint systems, but its main purpose is controlled descent. The I’D Traxion pulley pictured has a one-way stop for hauling heavy items.
A good helmet is a vital piece of gear, protecting you up- and down-tower.
An adjustable spud wrench is used for adjusting fasteners and aligning components.
A small impact drill-driver is a versatile, light power tool.
This Y-shaped safety lanyard has two legs for easy repositioning without a break in protection. Shock-absorbing straps reduce the impact of a stopped fall.

Residential wind-electric systems require tall towers to get above obstructions to the wind—trees, buildings, nearby land forms. High above this “ground clutter” is where the useful wind is, and that’s what’s needed for good energy production.

And while we may focus on the wind turbine itself as the star of the show, towers are a crucial part of a complete wind-electric system and a major part of the cost and the construction project. Some sites can use tilt-up towers, which allow all installation and service work to be done on the ground. But most wind turbines are atop towers that must be climbed. Normal maintenance for typical residential wind turbines includes inspection at least once a year, but twice a year is better—once before and after the windy season.

Among the climbers of small wind-turbines, I’ve seen a strong focus on work practices that support safety and comfort aloft. In this article, we’ll hear from six experienced climbers, and learn about some of their favorite gear and top techniques for climbing and working on towers—and get some sage advice for aspiring climbers.

Web Extras

“Choosing a Wind Turbine Tower” by Roy Butler in HP161homepower.com/161.34

“Wind-Electric System Maintenance” by Roy Butler & Ian Woofenden in HP135 homepower.com/135.98

“Learning the Ropes: A Beginner’s Guide to Tower Climbing Safety” by Ian Woofenden in HP128 homepower.com/128.66

“Tools of the Wind-Electric Trade” by Ian Woofenden in HP124 homepower.com/124.98

“2015 Wind Turbine Buyer’s Guide: Why, Where & How to Do Wind Electricity” by Ian Woofenden & Roy Butler in HP167 homepower.com/167.50

Comments (2)

walterchristmas's picture

Pet peeve of mine as a tower safety instructor... when people call the sling under a harness-wearer's butt a "bozeman's" seat. The correct term is "bosun's" seat as correctly labeled in the article. (Thank you for getting this right!) This term goes back to old sailing ship days when the bosun (sailor slang for boatswain) was the person who would be hoisted up the mast for various reasons. Also, I agree that the Petzl Grillon is a great positioning lanyard. It's the only one I've used that allows extension of the lanyard while under tension. Great article!

Ian Woofenden's picture
Hi Walter,
I'm glad we can quibble about spelling instead of real safety stuff. ;-) I also prefer accurate names, and thanks for helping our readers with the right term and its history!
Thanks for reading, and for appreciating the article.
Regards, Ian Woofenden, Home Power senior editor
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