By WIlo Castillo, Senior Training Advisor
It has been said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” this is no different in the access world. For years ropes were utilized to access hard to reach areas, and those techniques could require a certain level of physical ability and effort. Whenever there was a need to go up the rope, workers had to use ascenders, foot loops or knots (such as the Prusik) and caterpillar their way up the rope. The distance that someone is able to ascend is only limited by their physical ability. Dozens of ascending methods exist, but the common denominator for them all is that they require a level of physical skill and none of them are very fast. Although these techniques are still used today, they require skill, physical ability, and have distance and time limitations.
The first power ascender was introduced in the late ’90s, and it was mainly used in the arborist industry. It was gas powered with limited weight capacity as well as speed. With rope techniques being implemented more frequently and in a broader range of industries, there is a considerable demand for these power ascenders.
Today, there are a variety of manufacturers making these power ascenders for recreational (personal) as well as commercial and military use. They are as varied in style and function as they are in cost, with some being as little as $2,000 and some going up to as much as $13,000 per unit, and their features are as broad as their price range. Some of them can be used with a variety of ropes, some are gas operated, some use lithium batteries, and some can even be used underwater!
Just as technology has improved safety in the workforce, it has done so with these devices. By reducing the amount of gear required to ascend and descend the rope, they remove the potential opportunities for human error when performing these rope access techniques at height. Additionally, they come with a series of built-in safety features, and they reduce fatigue while climbing ropes thus allowing employees to access their jobs quicker, higher, and spend less time suspended in a harness.
With all of this said, it is important to mention that these power ascenders are bulky and only allow for ascending and descending on ropes, you are not able to transfer ropes, re-belay nor pass deviations (certainly not easily anyway). Proper training in the PPE used with these power ascenders is still required.
So whichever industry you work in that requires you to be on a rope, these devices may make your job a little more enjoyable and less strenuous. It may even prolong your career and allow for you to enjoy the scenery a little longer.
Call one of our equipment advisors at 800.755.8455 to learn more!
Learn more about the Ronin Lift Power Ascender below!