Maneuvering, Part 2

(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.)

Maneuvering left-to-right and right-to-left (a.k.a. maneuvering laterally) is perhaps the most challenging experience in learning pole climbing. Of course, whether you are right-handed or left-handed will make the respective maneuvering direction a littler easier. Now that you have some experience gauging the space between your heels, bear this in mind as we begin.

The first step - from the familiar stopping position - is to Shift in the direction you want to rotate. Since the standard stopping postion is: "left leg extended and locked, right leg is bent; having stepped and stroked into the wood . . ." then you would shift right. So, give it a nice, hearty Shift with your pelvis! The magnitude of your shift is significantly more than the Short-shift back when maneuvering down.

You have just shifted quite a bit, but if you keep your left knee locked and concentrate most of your weight on that leg - you are doing fine. Now, ungaff the right leg, lock to "Charlie" and float your right foot. Instead of simply a standard Stroke! into the wood, take a wide, shallow step. This is where you must be conscious of your heel spacing. Typically, you should step-up 4 to 6-inches. However, the breadth of your step is much greater than when you first ascend the pole. Your heels should now be 10 to 12-inches apart in a vertical plane after having Stroked! into the wood.


This next step will put you in the most precarious position since you began the pursuit of pole climbing. That is, to stand straight up and lock to "Charlie" with the right leg. The basic idea is not new, but dealing with the added factor of a wide-breadth step means there is a lag time between when you are securely in a locked-knee "Charlie" position. Additionally, you really must power your body straight up during this step. The gaff hook tends to dig deep into the wood at this point - and requires some extra fortitude to break free. With practice, you can execute this very safely.

But, you have nothing to worry about. You prepared yourself for this challenge by doing cardio-exercises and calisthenics. Right!?!

The final step is to drop on the locked left knee with the "floating" left foot. Use the familiar aiming technique with the heel. The drop you perform will be more subtle than when maneuvering down. The heals should be 4 to 6-inches apart at this time. This completes the evolution of an entire lateral maneuver. Although I used the example of maneuvering to the right, the same rudimentary steps apply to maneuvering left.

As a guideline to measure your progress when maneuvering laterally, I observed an experienced climber circumnavigate a telephone pole in 3 qty. complete cycles of the aforementioned procedure. In the training course, the instructors required a one-quarter turn around the pole in 3 cycles.

One final word of advice when performing any of these maneuvering procedures: wear work pants that DO NOT have any rivets. Rivets leave a nasty, painful bruise on your hips when shifting around in the safety strap. Many of the popular blue jeans are riveted - particularly by the pockets. This is where the safety strap rides during your maneuvering. There are other brands of work pants not riveted and instead, use heavy stitching at the stress points of the garment. Shop for this clothing article with discretion and impunity.


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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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