Kinleven mast ladder [and mast climbing issues]

Scott B.

Member
Holy crap! Nothing looks right about that. Especially the forestay attached by only a fragment of a cotter pin, at best. What a lucky discovery before something really bad happened! This reinforces my need to find out what's going on at the top of my mast; it hasn't been inspected for a long time.
 

Sailingfun

Member III
This has become quite the thread. It's great to see so much input from the group.

Just for fun I thought I'd share one of the things we riggers occasionally find once we safely get to the top of the mast. Look closely, this might just put the fear of gravity in you.
View attachment 37144

Mental note: Use my son's drone to check pin and mast top condition before go up there...
2 mental note: Install a good half-moon block at the top for safety reasons.
Whit technology there are no reason to sweat anymore checking mast top
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Skyscrapers, bridges, towers, and all sorts of structures are inspected periodically and repetitively for safety. Fortunately, disassembly is not required.
 

trickdhat

Member III
Blogs Author
This is one of those threads that reminds you of a problem you didn't even know you had. I always had someone hoist me up on the main halyard. If I was feeling extra precautious, I'd drop the headsail and use it's halyard for a backup line tended by a third person. I never thought about the overrides we experience from time time time happing when we have someone up the mast.

I work with a few tower climbers who are experts in rigging, so I ran this past them and they said the Gri gri & ascender was a great setup. We gathered up a few REI gift cards and dividend checks we had forgotten about and built a decent setup.

Everyone in the family took turns trying it out in the garage before we tried it out this past weekend. I can't believe how much of a difference it makes. Being self sufficient and in control brings some confidence I didn't know I was missing.

Eventually, I would like to purchase a dedicated sit harness (we're currently using climbing harnesses). I also tried the bosuns chair with the climbing independently clipped into the Gri gri carabiner. It was more comfortable than the climbing harness alone, but it's more complicated than I like. Another improvement will be purchasing a longer static line I can temporarily replace the halyard instead of tying it to the halyard (we ended up with 3' lost at the top of the mast with the loop to loop connection). This was a huge improvement that's only going to get better. Thanks once again to this group for providing some great advice!

20210307_092051.jpg20210313_132143.jpg
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
This is one of those threads that reminds you of a problem you didn't even know you had. I always had someone hoist me up on the main halyard. If I was feeling extra precautious, I'd drop the headsail and use it's halyard for a backup line tended by a third person. I never thought about the overrides we experience from time time time happing when we have someone up the mast.

I work with a few tower climbers who are experts in rigging, so I ran this past them and they said the Gri gri & ascender was a great setup. We gathered up a few REI gift cards and dividend checks we had forgotten about and built a decent setup.

Everyone in the family took turns trying it out in the garage before we tried it out this past weekend. I can't believe how much of a difference it makes. Being self sufficient and in control brings some confidence I didn't know I was missing.

Eventually, I would like to purchase a dedicated sit harness (we're currently using climbing harnesses). I also tried the bosuns chair with the climbing independently clipped into the Gri gri carabiner. It was more comfortable than the climbing harness alone, but it's more complicated than I like. Another improvement will be purchasing a longer static line I can temporarily replace the halyard instead of tying it to the halyard (we ended up with 3' lost at the top of the mast with the loop to loop connection). This was a huge improvement that's only going to get better. Thanks once again to this group for providing some great advice!

View attachment 37740View attachment 37741
Yup - that's exactly the solution I came up with several years ago after seeing lots of arborist videos and caving videos. It was fun putting the components together and learning to use them.
I use a spare halyard as my back-up (usually the spinnaker), tied at intervals to a carabiner on the harness using alpine butterfly knots - and an adjustable tether/lanyard around the mast, anchored to life-safe soft loops on either hip of the harness.
I can highly recommend the New Tribe Tengu harness for comfort, features and safety.
 
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u079721

Contributing Partner
Since we're talking going up the mast, I thought I would post a link to an article I wrote on the subject a few years ago, published in Good Old Boat and Ocean Navigator. Using any type of mast ladder system scared me to death, so of all the techniques available I preferred a climbing harness and a 3:1 pulley system to hoist myself aloft. When possible I used a separate halyard as a static safety line.

 

jtsai

Member II
This is one of those threads that reminds you of a problem you didn't even know you had. I always had someone hoist me up on the main halyard. If I was feeling extra precautious, I'd drop the headsail and use it's halyard for a backup line tended by a third person. I never thought about the overrides we experience from time time time happing when we have someone up the mast.

I work with a few tower climbers who are experts in rigging, so I ran this past them and they said the Gri gri & ascender was a great setup. We gathered up a few REI gift cards and dividend checks we had forgotten about and built a decent setup.

Everyone in the family took turns trying it out in the garage before we tried it out this past weekend. I can't believe how much of a difference it makes. Being self sufficient and in control brings some confidence I didn't know I was missing.

Eventually, I would like to purchase a dedicated sit harness (we're currently using climbing harnesses). I also tried the bosuns chair with the climbing independently clipped into the Gri gri carabiner. It was more comfortable than the climbing harness alone, but it's more complicated than I like. Another improvement will be purchasing a longer static line I can temporarily replace the halyard instead of tying it to the halyard (we ended up with 3' lost at the top of the mast with the loop to loop connection). This was a huge improvement that's only going to get better. Thanks once again to this group for providing some great advice!

View attachment 37740View attachment 37741
I like it! Would you mind sharing the individual REI parts used in the system?
 

trickdhat

Member III
Blogs Author
Here's what I purchase:
There's also preassembled systems from a few tree climbing sites if you google. I went with REI because we had some gift cards and it allowed us to get the GRIGRI+ which has a safety feature that stops the descent if it goes too quickly (if the user panics and pulls the lever too much)
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
hah - it took too long to type this ... trickdhat got in first. Maybe my list will help too - looks very similar.

Gri Gri
Screw link to connect main central loop on harness with GriGri (I prefer the triangular style to the oval style because it gives more room for other things connected to this loop):
Ascender (just need one - get the left one if you're right-handed and vice-versa - you'll probably prefer to pull down on the climbing line with your stronger arm):
2-3 locking carabiners:
I use an auto-locking one like this for attaching the GriGri to the main loop on my harness:
I use these a pair of these magnetic auto-locking ones for attaching my around-the-mast lanyard to the sides of my harness:
Also: You'll want to get a few additional life-rated carabiners for miscellaneous tasks and back-ups (basic screw-gate and wire-gate types).
- Don't take any non-life-rated carabiners up the mast.
Small open-top pulley for the climbing rope turn at the ascender:
Large oval carabiner (to connect the small pulley with the safety hole at the top of the ascender):
Foot loop: (I actually use two, but you can use just on - on your stronger leg) - there might be other cheaper versions

Climbing line & note:
- get a length of rock climbing line that's ~8-10' longer than the height of your masthead above the deck
- make sure it's size is compatible with the specs of the GriGri (and the small pulley)
- I think I got Bluewater 10mm
- tie it to your main halyard with a bowline-to-bowline connection (don't use the halyard's shackle), haul the halyard all the way to the masthead sheeve and tie it with reasonable tension and very securely on-deck, then climb on the climbing line: the ascender has very aggressive teeth that will wear out your halyard.
- Don't push the ascender all the way to the bowline a teh top - leave about 2-3" above it on the climbing line ... you'll need this gap to disengage the ascender when it's time to come down
 

trickdhat

Member III
Blogs Author
It's good to see the similarities in our systems. I like the auto locking carabiners instead of my screw type and I really like the idea of a non locking carabiner for the pully.

I didn't mention it in my list, but I have a strap connecting to the bottom of the ascender to my harness so I don't accidently drop it when I'm derigging to come down.

Great point on the Left vs Right Ascender too. My wife is left handed and I'm right, we went with the right handed model thinking I would use it more, but we quickly figured out why you should go opposite when we rigged it up in the garage.

One more change I would like to do in the future is purchase a rope long enough to completely replace the halyard. I used figure 8 follow throughs to tie the ropes together, but this leaves about 3' of unusable line at the top of the mast. It also doesn't eliminate any halyard chafe from the system.
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
It's good to see the similarities in our systems. I like the auto locking carabiners instead of my screw type and I really like the idea of a non locking carabiner for the pully.

I didn't mention it in my list, but I have a strap connecting to the bottom of the ascender to my harness so I don't accidently drop it when I'm derigging to come down.

Great point on the Left vs Right Ascender too. My wife is left handed and I'm right, we went with the right handed model thinking I would use it more, but we quickly figured out why you should go opposite when we rigged it up in the garage.

One more change I would like to do in the future is purchase a rope long enough to completely replace the halyard. I used figure 8 follow throughs to tie the ropes together, but this leaves about 3' of unusable line at the top of the mast. It also doesn't eliminate any halyard chafe from the system.
Good points.
Yes - I also have a strap of 1" webbing tied to the bottom of the ascender for the same reason (great minds?)
Very good idea to just get an extra full-length halyard as the climbing line - could be used as a back-up halyard, or for all sorts of other purposes.
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Would you mind sharing the individual REI parts used in the system?
If you just need to go aloft to make a quick retrieval or repair, you may not need a Cadillac system. The minimalist route might be:

- harness
- 2 harness-prussiks & a locking carabiner
- dual-loop foot-prussik
- chest-loop and non-locking carabiner

20210316_115556~2.jpg

The rope prussiks don't abrade so you can use your existing lines (if in good shape). The second harness-prussik is for a backup halyard/line.
 
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Slick470

Member III
Similar to several here I use a system with a grigri, pulley, ascender, and footloops. I have some rock climbing background so a lot of this gear was already familiar to me. When I was trying to figure out the method I wanted to use, I found that Allen over at L-36 had done some videos and writeups on the various systems he's tried. It is an interesting rabbit hole to run down. Here is his writeup on the method I use: https://l-36.com/more_mast_climbing.php

I use a static climbing rope since it has little give over a dynamic rope and it was cheaper than a sailing line equivalent. I keep my whole setup in a climbing line bag so it is contained and easy to grab if needed. I also use a climbing harness 95% of the time. I also own a bosun's chair, but I only use it if I know I'm going to be in one place for a while and I wear it along with the harness.

Allen at L-36 has reviewed a few of the common mast climbing methods and he's evolved his system a bit over several tries (and invested quite a bit in gear), so it's fun to go through the whole series if you have the time and interest:

Article 1: https://l-36.com/mast_climbing.php

Article 2: https://l-36.com/mast_climbing_2.php

Article 3: https://l-36.com/unassisted_mast_climbing.php

Article 4: https://l-36.com/more_mast_climbing.php This is the article I led with above that shows pretty much the method I use.

Article 5: https://l-36.com/UltimateMastClimbing.php

For those that aren't familiar with L-36. The site owner Allen has lots of articles about a lot of stuff sailing related. I've traded a few messages with him over the years to help me understand something better but also to make suggestions on how to improve some of his stuff. I use is weather page often since it is is a pretty nice aggregator. He's also built up a pretty nice collection of manuals on his site.
 

trickdhat

Member III
Blogs Author
I envy your
If you just need to go aloft to make a quick retrieval or repair, you may not need a Cadillac system. The minimalist route might be:

- harness
- 2 harness-prussiks & a locking carabiner
- dual-loop foot-prussik
- chest-loop and non-locking carabiner

View attachment 37765

The rope prussiks don't abrade so you can use your existing lines (if in good shape). The second harness-prussik is for a backup halyard/line.
Nice set up! I envy the simplicity. It's pretty cool what people can accomplish with some rope and enginuity. We should all have some loops around for making prussiks to unload an override regardless of our mast climbing setups.
 
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