Saturday, October 10, 2009

American River Bridges: Foresthill Bridge (2)

I'm familiar with the Foresthill Bridge because that's where we used to practice our rope climbing techniques. There's a door in the west abutment that leads you down a  corridor (that smells strongly of bat guano) and you end up on the painter's walkway above the bottom chord of the bridge.

Its a good place to work because you are away from traffic and you don't have to interrupt your concentration to explain what you''re doing to passing pedestrians or cyclists. However, since 9/11 you better alert someone from Homeland Security that you'll be on the bridge or you'll find yourself surrounded by police in helicopters trying to find out what you're up to.

It's here that we practiced setting a traverse, different methods of getting off one tension line and onto another, and rescue techniques. Rope climbing is the only way that bridge engineers can inspect very tall towers, deep superstructures, and other places where a snooper truck or person-lift can't go.

Actually, rope climbing equipment and rope climbing techniques have changed a lot since this photo was taken. Nowadays, each climber belays him or herself and the harness is much lighter and less painful to wear. Still, the basics are the same. Each climber must always be securely attached to two ropes at all times.

We stopped climbing because we lost our leader (he took another job). I guess we were a bunch of followers and when our leader left, no one was willing to take over maintaining the equipment, planning the exercises, etc. Also, I stopped because as I got older, I lost the ability to lift myself up onto bridge members by just using my arms.
Creative Commons License
American River Bridges: Foresthill Bridge (2) by Mark Yashinsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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