Climbing A 1,768 Foot Transmission Tower

This video tied my stomach into knots.

It’s a helmet-cam video of a transmission tower repair technician’s free-climb of a 1,768 foot tower. The climber reaches the tower’s top most light beacon (these towers are so tall they need FAA standardized beacons so airplanes won’t fly into them).

219 thoughts to “Climbing A 1,768 Foot Transmission Tower”

  1. First of all, let’s clarify something. As a certified tower climber, FREE Climbing is NOT allowed by OSHA. Period. No question about it. This dude is either clinically insane, stupid, or just doesn’t give a shit about his friends or family or anyone he leaves behind when his body splatters on the ground. Whoever made this video is dead wrong and obviously not a climber. The climber is about the dumbest I’ve seen. There are plenty of anchor points on that tower and if not, thats what a choker is for! If you believe or try this, you better have a will prepared. Climber, your the reason our industry has the highest fatality rate of any job per year! you need to go back to school!

    1. Lol if you actually go to the video… And the date posted it was before OSHA came into play… If you’ve been in the business long enough you’d know that everyone free climbed whether iron worker, turbine technician, cell phone tower climbers etc… Green horn.

    1. it made me VERY uneasy just watching from home !!

      it also should give those who see it a real appreciation for those who perform dangerous tasks every day..

  2. Sean Schriver,
    Your industry does not even make the top ten list, so quit with the bravado. The list for 2010-2012 is as follows:
    Commercial fishing;Loggers ;Airline pilots and flight engineers;farmers; mining machine operators;roofers;garbage men; truck drivers and sales drivers;industrial machinery installation,repair and maintenance;
    police. Also, your job was not on any previous years for the last couple decades that I could find. Why would a person lie about that and try to belittle someone else? You are a sad little man.

    1. If you take into count per capita it does make the top of the list. There are a lot more workers in those other industries and that needs to be taken into account. We are a very small industry overall and that’s why it is among the most dangerous in the world.

  3. Hey John, You need to check your OSHA stats on “Deaths by Falls”. Why I’m even replying to you is a mystery but you’re probably one that thinks this free climbing video is cool. It’s complete ignorance, absolutely no reason to be free-climbing, and complete disregard for anyone who is remotely related to the climbers including friends and family and other workers in an industry which they are attempting to represent. We do this job everyday, as much as you drive your car and I bet you wear your seatbelt even when just going to the store. See the connection?Granted, the job itself and the thrill of what we do is something most will never experience nor want to, is appealing, this is not an accurate representation of the hazards we face every day in high winds, severe and inclimate weather, and the possiblity of “death by fall” which I referenced earlier. I ask, what possible knowledge do you have that makes you any kind of expert on what I and others do every day so you can have your precious, uninterrupted cell coverage on your phone? Unless you are a climber or in the industry, you really should do us a favor and only speak to that which you know. I don’t pretend to know anything about medical issues yet I can watch countless tv shows and claim to be. Again, you speak of which you know nothing about…

    1. Sean, You stated your industry “has the highest fatality rate per year” It doesn’t. That is called a lie where I come from. Either that or you really didn’t know what you were talking about. It’s just like all the firemaen and cops who try to impress people with how dangerous their job is when statistically, the guy selling you the slurpee on the midnight shift faces more risk of death. It happens in my occupation as well (Electrical Power Lineman), with some of the younger, more pretentious guys. They don’t impress me any more than you do. I will say however, I do agree with you on the topic safety harnesses. Until recently we were expected to free climb poles (only 90 – 100 feet max, usually much less) The industry standard is now the buck squeeze which prevents falls and I welcome it. I’ve seen three people fall in the last five years with broken pelvises, fractured heels, ribs, punctured lungs, etc. It is irresponsible to not use your safety equipment, however, it could be argued that participating in extreme sports, mountain climbing, or even motorcycling is just as potentially deadly. So if this guy is crazy enough to do something like this, you still have to kinda admire the nerve, or balls if you will, I sure as hell wouldn’t do it. I think you are just jealous he is taking a little of the spotlight from “your most fatal industry” / I am finished on this matter, reply if you will, I will read it, but any further discussion would just be argumentative. I will let the jury decide on this one.

      1. Ok John, this is getting redundant. First, we are talking about this video, free climbing, tower work (not any other work) and falling resulting in death. I believe you digress off topic to debate a non topical point. Tower workers by stat have the highest death rate “by fall” out of any industry. Check your OSHA stats. Enough said. I could care less about “tooting my horn”. I do this job for a living, the brotherhood, and staying out of an office or a factory. The view from my “office is second to none but other factors make this far from anyone’s “dream job”. I could care less about impressing you or anyone else. I know what I do, and I put food on my family’s table. This video, and the mis-information it distributes, puts my industry in a false light that we are all free climbing cowboys and my intention is to provide the proper information to those that would believe this is the norm from watching this video. Period. Free-climbing is dangerous and selfish from an occupational stand point. If you want to get personal, I don’t respect this climber anymore than I respect someone who spends their time on a transmission pole up to 100 ft. If you are watching this video thinking this job is so cool and are looking for a cheap thrill, then you don’t belong. This is serious, not a game, and not an extreme sport. You want a weekend thrill? go bungee jumping, go rock climbing, go base jumping. This job is not a playground. That is my point. it’s dangerous, and not only can you hurt or kill yourself, you can endanger your co-workers who may be on the tower or below you on the ground. lives and lively hood are put at risk by pulling stunts like this and there is no reason for it. This is why within the last 3 months of 2011, 3 climbers age 18-27 died from falling from a tower. I have graphic pics if you really want to press the issue. Why you are so intent on arguing, I am not sure. At least we agree on one major point, and that’s safety. Agreed, the video is entertaining, that’s it. But the narrator should have done a better job in clarifying that this is not normal, not approved by OSHA or anyone, and highly risky. One last point to clarify. I do not respect the climber and do not admire his “balls”. I’ve seen many a news report with mentally handicapped people and intoxicated individuals climbing 300 ft towers with absolutely no equipment at all and in one case with no shoes and legally intoxicated. All were involved in police stand-offs and made it back down safely to the ground on their own. Demonstrating anyone can do what this guy is doing, myself, you, everyone reading included. The point, he’s on the clock, not an entertaining extreme sport athlete. It’s embarrassing to my industry. So I guess, by your arguments, the next time I see a you-tube video of a lineman getting fried on a high voltage line I should laugh and think that funny and you all don’t pay attention to what your working on? I think you would agree, it’s not, and I’m sure you would be infuriated if people formed their conceptions of your industry on a video of someone taking unnecessary risks. If you have to have the last word to entertain yourself, you can have it. I’ve said my piece, proven my point, have a nice life and don’t get fried like I see in other videos.

        1. Just wanted to put my 2 cents in. I watched the video and realized right off that both climbers were not safe. The spotter, (technically it would seem that both clibers are spotters for one another) is supposed to ensure the other climber uses all aspects of safety equipment during the ascent or descent of the tower. I dont care how brave a person looks, stupidity always trumps bravery in the long run. Thats why people die.

          I hope that whoever does this for a living has life insurance as well as gets paid very well. Thank you for keeping my cell service active so I can call my family and friends.


        2. Sean don’t you understand that for there to be a bunch of deaths people wouldn’t be using the harnesses because the harnesses are there to prevent that and if there are so many deaths then most of those people probably were not using the harnesses and most people wouldn’t people wouldn’t jeopardize their employment therefore I don’t think there are any regulations against it plus the smartass remarks aren’t very grown up like by the way

      2. John, unfortunately he didn’t explain it well enough, but he is correct in his statement concerning the fatality rate. There are only 10000 or so climbers, amd with only a few dozen deaths that puts the fatality rate pretty far up there. Look it up again, except use the osha stay of per 100,000 employees for each one of those jobs you listed compared to this one. No need to bash, john. CNN recently did an article on people like you who bash others online.

  4. Tower climbing has the highest fatality rate in terms of percentage of employees. Here is a link check it out….…You should get your facts straight before you start blurting stupid things out your mouth. Also like the other guys said free climbing is totally not aloud. I mean I still do it because im old school but using a pelican hook on a climbing peg has to be the most dangerous thing you can do. If you slip that hook can pop off the end of that peg. That guy is a moron.

  5. Frontline will be airing a special on pbs on “cell tower deaths” on May 22 and 23. (check the website or your local listings. As the reporter states, tower workers have a 10 times death rate of other construction workers. If you have any doubt as to the hazards and proceedures that are practiced in the tower industry, as John seems to, please watch the show and judge for your self. It will also give you a better perspective of what we go through on a day to day basis and the ins and outs of our industry currently, good or bad. Enjoy your 4G LTE smart phone service courtesy of climbers.

  6. “Free Climbing” does not mean “climbing without ropes”. This tower climber is NOT “free climbing”. Free climbing is the most common form of rock climbing. Technically, this guy is “free soloing” a tower — very, very different.

  7. Zaynes post makes the most sense and is accurate. Its obvious these climbers are professional in every respect. This was a generous act that allowed millions to view a once in a lifetime event. My hat goes off to these unselfish engineers who shared this with the multitudes who will never experience anything like it.

  8. The Law of Gravity: failure to obey has no parole or time off for good behavior. You be your own judge, jury and executioner (unless the crane operator screws up, or you get struck by lightning, or a gin pole snaps, or …) Nevertheless and all the more, hook me up with a DBI-SALA Exo-Fit XP harness and a NATE competent climber course cause I wanna do that (but 100%).

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