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.
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!
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.