Maneuvering, Part 1

(Disclaimer: This presentation does not advocate, endorse, guarantee, imply nor infer any person can safely climb utility poles based solely on reading its content. It is for informational purposes only.)

Now that you are up the pole and "parked", you want to get into a comfortable - albeit safe - working position. To accomplish this, you need to learn maneuvering. The basic directions are up, down, left and right. To maneuver up, the procedure is: strap up, shift up, stand up and lock to "Charlie", step and short-shift back.

Strap up means to bump the strap up about 6-inches (you will be slightly closer to the pole at this point and that proverbial 30° angle will be steeper). Shift up means to shift your pelvis in the direction of your bent leg - shift about 1/8 of a full-turn. Stand up and lock to "Charlie" is the same familiar evolution, as is Step, followed by a nice, hearty Stroke! into the wood. Short-shift back is performed to adjust and reorient yourself into a working position. This last step is the most intuitive. If you did everything right, the short-shift back will come naturally.

Maneuvering down is somewhat easier, but staying safe is still the watch word. To maneuver down, the procedure is: strap down, ungaff and lock to "Charlie" and drop on your locked knee. So, knowing a little about strap movement, Strap down means to bump the safety strap down until it is parallel to the ground. If you are doing everything right, you would be moving the strap down about 6-inches. One smooth bump ought to take care of it. Ungaff and lock to "Charlie" means to ungaff your bent leg and assume the now familiar "Charlie" position.


Drop on your locked knee is somewhat of a new idea. But it is based on what you already know. This means to drop down roughly 12-inches with the "floating" (or ungaffed) hook and lock in place. The idea is to actually aim with your floating heel and dig the gaff hook into the wood as you drop down. This is not a place where you need to be timid. You can not hurt anything here, and the more aggressive you are with this step, the safer you actually are. Once you become proficient at maneuvering down, you realize gravity is doing a good percentage of the work for you. It is important to keep the knee locked. Again, the knee must stay locked on the leg you are dropping down on. Do not attempt to buffer your drop with a slightly bent knee. Remember, keeping the knees locked is an absolute - there are no exceptions.

A word of caution must be extended at this point. If you have any trouble with your knees or back, this is where it will show up. When you drop down in the proper fashion, you will feel it. If you have any back trouble or damaged knees from prior injuries, you may have to reconsider this type of vocation. All good climbing programs will make you pass a physical first. Hopefully any deficiency or chronic ailment will be spotted then. But don't expect all-too thorough of an examination, though.

Another important idea to grasp is the spacing between your heels as you are doing all this maneuvering. Since you will be using your heels to aim with - and that is a fairly precise function - heel spacing is critical. The idea is to keep your heels 4 to 6-inches apart when maneuvering. This is true for maneuvering up as well as down. This means each heel on your boots should be no more than 3-inches away from an imaginary centerline down you body. Even though each foot is on a different horizontal plane, they should not be farther than 6-inches apart in the vertical plane. Contrastingly, during the regular pole climbing ascent, your heels can be up to 8-inches apart in the vertical plane. This is more intuitive during the upward climb, as anything more than 8-inches apart for a normal sized person does not feel natural.

However, you will see in the following section, the heels must be spaced apart even farther as we learn to maneuver left and right.


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[ Welcome to Page One! | 3-Point Rule | Hand, Charlie, Stroke! | The Safety Strap | Intermission | Maneuvering, Part 1 | Maneuvering, Part 2 | Summary | Contact ]

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