If you climb towers you’ve probably hauled something up a tower. It may have been a haul bucket with tools, or a thousand pound antennae. Either way, you know that it can be a real pain.
I meet people at tradeshows and in our showroom all the time that tell me about different ways that they haul stuff. Some of the stories sound down-right horrifying. On climber described how he tied the tail end of the rope around his waist and started walking. He was an older gentleman, and said that by the end of his 100′ lift he felt like he might have a heart attack.
The nice thing about talking to climbers is that I get to hear the techniques they are using, and share them with others. Hauling may never be your favorite task, but it can be easier. So, here are a few ways to make your hauling easier
Add Progress Capture
This first one is very easy and requires virtually no extra training. It simply involves adding progress capture to your system. Progress capture just means that it only allows the rope to go through the system one way. If you let go your load doesn’t come crashing to the ground. So, you don’t have to worry about dropping your load, and you can take breaks midway through long hauls.
There are a variety of progress capture pulleys out there. You can look at the ISC Single Hauler, the Petzl Traxion, or even a simple prusik added to your pulley (this option will require you to learn how to tie a prusik knot, but it’s not too hard). These will generally run you $100-$200, and a prusik will be under $10. It’s really not too expensive considering the huge benefit it will bring to you and your crew.
It’s amazing how many climbers I run into that simply haven’t heard of progress capture. If you haven’t heard of it, consider getting one of these pulleys. You won’t regret it.
Making a 2:1 (two to one)
A common misconception that I’ve run into is that you have a 2:1 when you put a pulley at the top. Sadly, this is not the case. A single fixed pulley is just a redirect, making it so you are pulling down instead of up.
However, adding mechanical advantage is easy. With just one more pulley, you can create a 2:1, meaning you are lifting half the weight of the load.
Simply add a pulley down by your load as shown in the picture. This pulley will be a travelling pulley (it will move up as you pull the tail end of the rope). You’ll be pulling more rope through the whole system, but you’ll only be pulling up half the weight.
To do this setup, you’ll need two single pulleys, and three times the length of rope as the length of the lift (i.e. if it’s a 100′ lift, you’ll need 300′ of rope). To make your life easier, I’d recommend a progress capture pulley at the top (see above). We’ve also put together a kit like this to make it simpler for you which you can find here.
Use a 4:1 (four to one)
This is essentially the same thing as making a 2:1, except you’ll need two double pulleys. You’ll only be lifting one fourth of the weight, but you’ll be pulling four to five times the length of rope through the system.
I’ve sold some large ropes for exactly this purpose. I had a customer last week that got 1,500′ of rope. This will allow him to do a 300′ lift from the ground along with two double pulleys.
Any two double pulleys will do the trick, but for a long haul you’ll probably want larger pulleys that are more efficient. Stay away from anything with plastic sheaves. Over long hauls, enough friction can build up to melt them. And, again, you’ll probably want to have a progress capture like the ISC Double Hauler so you can take breaks as needed. We also have a 150′ kit put together that you can find here.
Use a small 4:1 Kit
Using a 4:1 means that you’ll need five times the rope as the length of the lift if you are pulling from the ground. This is fine if you have plenty of rope. But if you don’t, or you don’t want to buy that much rope, you can actually use a short 4:1 kit (like our HX Aztek kit), a rope grab, and a longer rope.
So, lets say you are going to lift something 100′. What you’ll need for the main line is 200′ of rope and a progress capture pulley (for this one, you actually do need the progress capture). Connect your pulley on top, and run your rope up to the pulley and back down to your load. At this point you have a redirect (no mechanical advantage, remember from earlier?).
When it’s time to add some extra mechanical advantage, you’ll pull out your short 4:1 kit and rope grab. Take your rope grab (Rescucender or equivalent), and attach it to the tail end of your rope. Attach one side of your 4:1 kit to the grab, and attach the other side to an anchor (your truck for instance). Raise the grab up until your 4:1 kit is fully extended. Then, pull the tail end of your 4:1 kit until it’s fully retracted.
Once your 4:1 kit is fully retracted, your going to extend it back out by raising the grab again. This part is why you need the progress capture pulley on top. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to raise your load.
Can I use a short 4:1 kit along with a larger mechanical advantage system?
Yes. Lets say you are using a long 2:1 kit like I described above. When you add the short 4:1 kit, you’ll get an 8:1 (you’ll be lifting on eighth of the weight of the load). When you add the short 4:1 kit to a long 4:1 kit, you’ll get a 16:1.
Of course, at this point you’ll also be pulling at least 16 times the amount of rope through. You can build a 100:1 if you want, but at some point it gets a bit ridiculous. Knowing how to rig these things, it’s up to you to decide what configuration makes the most sense.
A note about rope diameter
I talk to a lot of climbers that want 16mm (5/8″) rope or bigger for their hauling. Because, a big load needs big rope, right?
There are times when 16mm rope is the way to go, but usually you can get away with much smaller rope. This will make your whole system lighter, and save you some money.
When you just have one pulley on top, your rope is holding the whole weight of the load. If the load is 1,000 lbs, you need a rope that can safely hold 1,000 lbs. But, if you use a 2:1 kit like I described above, the load is connected to a pulley which is distributing the weight to two legs of the rope. So, you effectively only need rope that can hold 500 lbs. And if you are using a 4:1 kit, your rope will only need to hold 250 lbs.
That’s why in our small 4:1 kits we put little 7mm cord. When you loop it around the pulleys four times, you effectively increase it’s strength by four times. Now instead of holding 3,000 lbf (roughly a 300 lbs safe working load) it has a combined strength of 12,000 lbf (roughly 1,200 lbs safe working load). All of the sudden the weakest part of your system might be your pulleys or carabiners instead of your tiny cord.
So, the morale of this story is, consider how strong of rope you actually need. If you can get away with lighter, less expensive cord, why not go for it?
Hopefully, there are some new techniques above that can make your life easier. If you have other techniques that you use for hauling, let me know in the comments below.
As always, stay safe!