A climbing harness is a crucial piece of equipment for wind-electric system installation and maintenance. Its first function is keeping the climber safely on the tower. One hundred percent attachment is the rule, and having a safe harness that fits is vital. Harnesses also provide comfortable positioning and seating, and places to attach tools and other gear.
In more than 30 years of climbing, I’ve witnessed a dramatic evolution in my personal harnesses. My first harness was tied out of manila rope. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was cheap and got me into the air. Later, I bought a basic tree-climbing harness, with a waist belt and a simple butt strap. But it, like the even simpler lineman’s belt, is far from safe. Without full leg straps and chest harness, a climber can fall out of a harness.
Eventually, I ended up with climbing harnesses used in the cell tower industry. These are fully equipped with chest straps and multiple attachment points—everything you need—but they are quite heavy. While this sturdiness gives a feeling of security, after a long day of climbing, it wears you out to haul this much weight up and down a tower.
Enter Petzl’s Volt Wind LT harness. Used with the optional seat, it has most everything I could dream of in a harness. This full-protection harness is light and comfortable, with multiple attachment points. All of its buckles are easy and quick to operate, while not being prone to accidental opening. You don’t have to step through the leg straps (as you do in some harnesses)—you just put the harness on like a jacket and then connect the leg, waist, and chest attachments.
With the separate seat permanently attached, it’s a versatile harness that allows rappelling and use with fall-arrest devices. It accommodates a wide variety of climbing and positioning techniques. Though it was designed for utility-scale wind climbers, it’s excellent for home-scale tower climbing as well. It’s going to be hard for me to use anything different after experiencing this harness’s convenience, comfort, and utility.
Petzl has been making great climbing gear for years, and some of it has been in use in the wind industry before. This harness is an excellent addition to its product line, and would be a valued part of any wind energy climber’s gear.