Bloke on a rope……rope access technician on an abseil team

I am a Rope access Technician…otherwise known as a RAT. In the UK, it’s an industry which employs climbers or cavers…people who are able to work at height dangling off a rope.

The industry is highly regulated with a lot of training and safety assesments. There are 3 levels. You start at level 1 and move up the levels over a period of years. I’m a level 3 supervisor who is in charge of safety.

The industry started off in the early 80s based on the oil and gas industry off the coast of Scotland in the North sea. Originally, the work was inspecting the legs of the platforms in the sea. You would go down the legs of the platforms and inspect, clean, repair….

The alternative to getting a team of abseilers is to get a scaffolder to come in who would charge a million pounds while an abseiler would be able to do that for a tenth of the price.

The rope access industry is a very cost efficient way of accessing any type of high rise structure or any type of awkward space…like down shafts.

I love it. I love me job…it’s the perfect job. I’m self employed in the UK and I tend to work 6 months out of one year…making a full years wage…and then take time out. Come to California and climb Yosemite.

One bad things is that the work is so physically demanding. It’s painful work. You find yourself in the most cramped painful conditions for 10-12 hours per day. You are wearing a harness…there are 2 parts to the job. Accessing the space and actually doing th job when you are in position….drilling steal, painting, repairing. You have to almost forget about the height factor.

Because of the training, I know that the position is very safe…so I get on and do the job I’m hired to do.

In the past 6 years, I’ve worked in South Africa, Johnnesburg, Durbin, Capetown…for a company called SkyRiders. I’ve worked in Australia on the Sydney Olympic stadium and I was part of the roof access team that built the roof. The highlight was doing inspection on the Sydney Opera house…abseiling off the top of it. I worked in New Zealand…various sorts of construction contracts. Recently, in the UK, I worked on the Millenium Dome and the London Eye, the world’s biggest Ferris Wheel. The job that blew me away was one called the Eden Project, basically building the world’s biggest biodome greenhouses. In the future, I’m looking forward to being on the abseil team building the world’s biggest buddhist statue in India. A 700 foot statue in the northeast.

I guess if I’m physically capable and injury free, I’ll be doing this til my 40s..maybe another 10 years…after that, I don’t know. who knows….

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