Green Jobs for Dirtbag Climbers: Fixing Wind Turbines

wind turbine green jobs rock climbing photo

Photographs by Jigar Mehta/The New York Times

I used to love hanging out in the climbing gym, but never thought that there was much of a career in ropes. Kate Galbraith in the New York Times writes that the explosive growth in the number of wind turbines has created opportunities to move from being a dirtbag climber (defined as "Piss-poor, unemployed rock climber who lives off scrounged food and sleeps, obviously, in the dirt. The pinnacle of climbing commitment and idol of employed climbers.") to being a real professional, getting the fun job of climbing up the inside of a turbine and dropping down 150 feet of blade, making enough money so that in their time off they can go....climbing.

wind turbine green jobs rock climbing photo distant

Photographs by Jigar Mehta/The New York Times

From the day you start climbing, safety is drilled into you, how to check your anchors, harnesses and ropes. When there are accidents it is usually caused by loose rocks or anchors giving way, and that's not going to happen on a wind turbine. Consequently they claim that no rope expert has ever been killed or seriously injured on the job. It also avoids the need for big cranes and bucket lifts, and is probably safer and cheaper- nothing is safer than being roped from the top.

wind turbine green jobs rock climbing photo rope partner

Rope Partner

At one company, Rope Partner, they make it even greener.

Like the old saying goes, "If you talk the talk"... At Rope Partner we take walking the walk seriously, which is why we developed our GreenClean™ tower, nacelle and blade cleaning protocol--an environmentally-mindful approach to industrial cleaning.

All of our GreenClean™ services--including the cleaning of hydraulic and gear box oil and smoke residue,, application of epoxy tower paint and weather caulking to exterior tower flanges-are performed with the most ecologically-appropriate supplies available, and when potentially harmful chemicals are demanded for the job, there is 100% containment of all materials used in the process.

wind turbine green jobs rock climbing photo safety


The safety issue is particularly relevant right now. On on climbing discussion board they show a training setup, complete with double lines, backups, helmets, everything but a parachute.


In Toronto on Christmas Eve, four workers were killed when their scaffolding broke in half and they fell thirteen floors. None were properly equipped with safety harnesses. The four-piece scaffolding was insanely long.

Perhaps we need more rock climbers in construction too.

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