UKC

How to Climb Vertical Ladders Within Mines Safely?

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 castrocheeky 23 Jul 2021

Very new to rope climbing, so I'm not very familiar with what associated equipment may be required.

I'm interested in exploring mines and especially in how to safely ascend (very high) vertical ladders that run up within (some) mine shafts.

But first.

Descending mine shafts via (long) vertical ladders is not really a serious concern. Although admittedly I'm very uneasy about descending into deep holes and also uneasy about (great) heights. However, as long as there is some definite secure means of preventing me from falling down, then I'm much more relaxed about the situation.

Briefly, looking at descending shafts using a rope which is solidly attached to a secure anchor point at or near the top of the shaft. Then using a climbing harness and a descender, make my way down the shaft ladder. And maybe use a rope grip as a back up for the descender to prevent a (bad) fall?

Now, climbing up (long) vertical mine ladders is a bit more challenging in terms of required (safety) equipment and climbing procedure when there isn't an existing rope nor anything else to use as an aide.

Some mine ladders are made out of wood, and some are made out of some form of steel. The ladders are attached to the side of mine shafts via (deeply) embedded anchors I believe(?) 

Mine shaft walls may consist of hard rock, or consist of (relatively loose) medium rock, or may even be something clay like(!?)

So, I want to climb up a vertical mine shaft ladder using safety equipment and safe procedures as far as practical. I have a harness and rope. One end of the safety/climbing rope is tied to a secure point at or near the bottom of the ladder.

The loose side of the safety rope is carried up with me as I climb the ladder. Now it seems I'll have to provide anchor points for the rope now and then (much like single rope climbing technique on mountains) as an aide to preventing falls.

The loose side of the rope is thread through the anchor point. Then the loose side of the rope is attached to my harness via an ascender and/or a rope grip.

The problem is, where and how do I attach anchor points? In the mine shaft walls, or on the ladder somewhere? Keeping in mind that the mine shaft walls may be soft and may not support standard climbing anchors, and ladder rungs may fail, so this makes thing difficult!?

Maybe there is some other way without using SRT anchors?

So, how should I climb the vertical ladders using safety equipment?

Thank you!

 Iamgregp 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

Could you not just forgo the rope and use a via ferrata kit, clip and unclip the 'biners to the sturdiest looking bit of the ladders or their fixings as you ascend or descend? 

 craig h 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

Mines can be very unforgiving to the inexperienced explorer, especially on vertical shafts. Many of the ladders are in a poor state and their condition can and does change quickly. A rescue from a mine is often very problematic and probably not the best place to learn about rope work and rigging.

I'd say the best thing would be to join a mine exploration club or group, there are a fair few across the country. They often do trips underground for members and also hold meets where you can learn about SRT and rigging.

 Brown 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

Might be worth asking on

https://ukcaving.com/board/

which also has all the refugees from AditNow the defunct mine exploration site.

 Holdtickler 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

1) If you are new to roped climbing I'd highly recommend NOT trying to acquire skills doing anything anywhere near as dangerous as what you are suggesting. I'd suggest seeking professional instruction and learn stuff on a sunny crag or indoor wall.

2) Joining a caving club/mine exploration group would be a sensible place to start. They will be able to show you how to do things safely and tell you which things are just too dangerous.

3) Trusting aging fixed equipment in caves and mines is an exceptionally risky thing to do. Messing with the shaft walls which are often just stacked up loose blocks (they are called "Stacked Deads" - clue's in the name!) is a real recipe for disaster (collapse!).

4) Caves and mines that are regularly explored tend to be kitted out with modern fixed protection. Rope's are usually fixed from above on the way in to prevent any chance of anyone falling and left in place to facilitate getting out again. In places where climbing up is required, fixed ropes are left in situ to ascend (again tho they could be old/unsafe so discretion advised) Lead climbing in caves, as you are inquiring about is pretty rare and best left to the highly experienced. Even minor injuries in an inaccessible cave can be very serious. Rescue's can be long and complex, and on occasion, impossible. So really not a place to be chancing it with marginal rotten gear and loose rock.

What on earth is drawing you to want climb a dodgy ladder in a loose mineshaft without a top rope? I'm genuinely intrigued. There a pot of gold up there?

 JamButty 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

Mines are great fun and an amazing trip into history.

You however seem to be suggesting you will be doing this alone,  which I would strongly recommend you don't. Mines can be lethal and are a unique ball game,   even for cavers,  so please take the excellent advice above.

 GrahamD 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

If it were me I'd just use the ladder as a guide and SRT down and up the rope.

 castrocheeky 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

All comments noted thank you!

Sorry, but I should have made it clear that my query was to gain information for future reference. I was NOT planing to investigate any mines just yet, let alone climb treacherous long vertical ladders.

I am aware that mines can be quite dangerous, and I am aware of the many specific (potential) hazards within mines. Any time I explore mines, it would be with companions anyway, there would be no solo explorations.

Although there is some interest in cave exploration (I have actually been in a couple of very small caves), mine exploration is far more interesting as there is usually more to see (and document by taking photos and videos).

1
In reply to castrocheeky:

The way that post was written seems a bit odd / keywordy almost like it was written by some AI.. I have also never seen anyone refer to 'aide' within a climbing context but that could just be me  

 Lankyman 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

Start on the horizontal ladders first (much easier). Gradually, increase the angle until vertical - you have an Uncle Robert!

Have you considered underwater ladder climbing? It's much safer if you fall off.

Post edited at 15:12
 ablackett 23 Jul 2021
In reply to castrocheeky:

I don’t think anyone here is going to answer your question. 
 

The answer is probably, “you use your experience to make it as safe as possible, but it’s still pretty dangerous”.

If someone on here explained some of the basic techniques, and then you went out and tried and died, well, you would be dead and they would feel pretty guilty. 

 Lankyman 24 Jul 2021
In reply to ablackett:

> I don’t think anyone here is going to answer your question. 

>  

> The answer is probably, “you use your experience to make it as safe as possible, but it’s still pretty dangerous”.

> If someone on here explained some of the basic techniques, and then you went out and tried and died, well, you would be dead and they would feel pretty guilty. 

Many posters on here have contributed to climbing guidebooks. I doubt many of them would lose much sleep if a gormless idiot went out clutching one and came to grief.

 JLS 24 Jul 2021
In reply to Lankyman:

I’ve seen Aussie Gold Hunters on the telly. In these old mines it’s the snakes you need to worry about more than the ladders.


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