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Telephone poles... Did you ever climb one?

This is a discussion on Telephone poles... Did you ever climb one? within the Army forums, part of the Armed Services category; I don't know if this is strictly a "Engineer Thing" but how many of you veteran & active duty soldiers have gone through a course ...

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Old June 20th, 2008, 10:44 PM   #1
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Telephone poles... Did you ever climb one?

I don't know if this is strictly a "Engineer Thing" but how many of you veteran & active duty soldiers have gone through a course in climbing & working on telephone poles?

I had the bristling pleasure during my OST @ Fort Leonard Wood. We learned how to climb up a pole with those climbing spikes. We learned that coming down is (a lot) harder than going up. We also had to do a whole array of tasks while perched up top of a 40 foot pole.

Ever slide down a training pole that's bristling with pencil size splinters? That's what happens when you miss a spike.

I bet those DIs had a hell of a good time watching us take quick trips to the base of the pole. I know I made the trip! And I got a ride in the back of a 5/4 to the dispensary to get the lumber removed from my arms and thighs.

Oh...I also needed to buy a new set of ODs because mine looked like a pack of angry woodchucks got to em'

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Old June 20th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #2
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Howdy 9th (and please pardon the intrusion into the Privvy.. )

I spent some time as an 1100 (undesignated Utilities Marine) and did some OJT as an 1141 Electrician. Climbed a bunch of poles. I never completely gaffed out, but I did get some big ole splinters....

I liked the view from up there.

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Old June 20th, 2008, 11:37 PM   #3
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So far that sounds like an engineer thing. I've never so much as heard of anyone else learning to do that.

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Old June 21st, 2008, 07:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by The 9th Engineer View Post
...And I got a ride in the back of a 5/4 to the dispensary to get the lumber removed from my arms and thighs.

OUCH! Double OUCH!

I've climbed a few poles in my life, but not in the mil. I used to work in the IT field, installing fiber optic cable, copper, etc. The spikes take some getting used to; my 'problem' was getting stuck! on the way UP! The darned spikes had this magical attraction to wood! They wouldn't let go! One time, I was about 20 ft. up a pole, and I couldn't get un-stuck for the life of me! Thankfully, I was able to radio a co-worker who had to bring a bucket truck to fetch me! Bob, the co-worker had a good laugh on me! He left me 'perched' for a while, while he threw crab apples at my rear end! I fixed 'im. I mooned 'im!

Getting down is exciting, to say the least! I never took the slide, as you did, but on one occasion, I did take a nice chunk of flesh out of my forearm! Man, I hate telly poles! It seems the older the pole, the 'angrier' they are!

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Old June 21st, 2008, 12:55 PM   #5
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Must be an Engineer thang. Been there done that, at lost in the woods also.

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Old June 21st, 2008, 10:47 PM   #6
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I've been on the poles 9th, my first time up I was told by an old timer, only go up 10 feet the first time and get your down figured out. We are talking coming down slow, of course, coming down fast is easy. For those of you who don't know, don't use pole spikes in the woods. There are two different sets of spikes, one for poles and one for trees. I still have both sets and and the belt, both well used. I never thought I'd be talking pole climbing here.


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Old June 23rd, 2008, 07:18 AM   #7
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In the headquarters detachment of the 2bn, 11th SF group,
the commo guys had to know how to do this as well. We had to get the antennae up a ways in certain conditions to get good reception.
We always let the new guys do it...


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Old June 24th, 2008, 06:43 PM   #8
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We did a brief familiarization in 89. We spent a lot more time rappelling (thank God).

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Old June 24th, 2008, 08:01 PM   #9
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We tied lines to cans of ham and mofo's and threw them over limbs and things and hauled up antennae.

A Teams did not carry climbing spikes in the full time army.

I learned to use spikes as a kid cutting timber, but did not like them very much.

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Old June 25th, 2008, 11:09 PM   #10
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I was an O5C but we had wire guys in our radio shop so yes I have climbed poles. I never went through the training when I was at Gordon so mine was OJT at Ft. Lewis. I only did a dozen out in the field but proud to say I never ended up sliding down one.

When I was in AIT I was a squad leader and my roommate and I used to jog over to the pole farms and watch guys climbing them. I don't remember how tall the tallest ones were but they would get to the top and throw a basketball around. Scared the crap out of me to watch them do it.

We never had Drill Sgts. in AIT so we had a lot more freedom to come and go as the troops who came in later.

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Old July 1st, 2008, 09:24 AM   #11
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It was the guys in HQ that had the RAT Rig and the climbing gear. When I went out the door it was with a prc-70, DMAG, extra batteries and accessories. I know I stepped on the scale once before jumping into Bragg and with my chute, ruck, weapon, radio and field gear I was around 350 pounds. I could barely get on the C130. Bare butt I weighed in around 185 at the time as well as not as many years and I still had good knees.
Ah the memories, I'd do it again tomorrow.


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Old November 24th, 2008, 10:48 PM   #12
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My SAW gunner was from the island of Palau, he could climb a tree with just his hands and a belt on his feet. This was great when you had to set up a field expedient antenna way up in a tree.

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Old December 5th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #13
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No it's not just an engineer thing, at least not if you had a green Lt. like I did. I happened to be the RTO of choice in our platoon, (D Trp, 1/10 Cav). I got to be RTO of choice simply because I took care of my gear and my radio was usually the only one that worked most of the time. Anyway, this guy found out about a 36K/72C (field wireman/switchboard operator) course and thought I should go, so I went. It really wasn't a problem since I had done some tree work as a civvy. Poles are actually a bit easier than trees, you have the splinter problem but tree bark can get you in trouble a lot quicker. At any rate I ended up Honor Graduate even though I was just an 11B. I never used that skill again in the Army but I'll always remember how strange it was for a plain ole grunt to go through that course.

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Old December 5th, 2008, 06:08 PM   #14
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"Climbed" a few in the horizontal position. A couple of them side by side with some boards nailed on'em make great bridges over a creek.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Every heard of Justin Wilson? Heard him tell the story of the cajuns trying to measure how tall a telephone pole was? He walked up a group of cajuns trying to stand up a fallen telephone pole with one cajun hanging on to the top end of it with a long tape measure in one hand. He watched them struggle through a couple of attempts to get that telephone pole stood up vertical with the guy hanging onto the end. Finally he had to holler out to them to stop and then asked them what in the world they were doing. One of them answered that they were trying to measure how tall the telephone pole was (of course). He asked them why they didn't just measure it lying there on the ground. The reply? They already knew how "long" the telephone pole was, they wanted to know how "tall" the telephone pole was.

Great stuff if you've never heard his comedy.

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Old December 5th, 2008, 07:00 PM   #15
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Having worked for the power company for 30 years I was honored to teach a class in pole climbing to the nearby Air Force's electrical department. Just like any other skill, do it 4 or 5 thousand times and you'll get good. I did show them how to fast climb and do a 'hurt man rescue' by racing up a 45' pole and rigging/lowering a 180# dummy to the ground in under two minutes. Hopefully they will be able to put the skill to use and get a good job in this economy when they get out of the service.

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