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D128
A Guide to Bank Scaling and Rock Climbing for Engineers, Surveyors and Geologists

D. Allen Hughes, PE

The purpose of this guide is to apply mountaineering climbing techniques and safety procedures to traversing and monitoring slopes and banks along highways. Many terms and phrases from the climbing community are introduced to better understand climbing principles.

In order to monitor, survey or observe steep slopes and banks often found along highway rights of way, it is sometimes necessary for professionals to physically travers steep slopes and banks. Sometimes, it is necessary to train personnel as climbers. The purpose of this guide is to help engineers, geologists and surveyors understand what is involved in bank scaling operations, as well as the gear and equipment necessary to do the work. For the purposes of this guide a “climber” is any personnel assigned to perform rope work. Engineers, geologists, surveyors and other professionals may find the need to become a “climber” or rely on climbers to monitor, maintain or survey steep slopes and banks. This guide was developed by CALTRANS (CT) to train climbers for CT projects related to slopes along highways. The principles introduced in this course can be applied by personnel who need to travers slopes and banks.

Working on rope has its inherent dangers. It is important to keep safety in mind as you work on rope. Safety starts with preparation. Just approaching a slope where there are unstable rocks means you have to be aware of your surroundings and the dangers they might pose. Considering this, a climber should be aware of the conditions and environment where they will be climbing. Also included in this manual is a Scaling Slope Assessment form. Each climber in a scaling operation needs to be familiar with the Assessment for the specific site they will be scaling. This guide will help the student to prepare for a climb. Even if you have no intention of becoming a climber, this guide may introduce ideas that would allow you to incorporate safety into designs and procedures related to steep banks and slopes.

WARNING – This course is for educational purposes. No guide should be the sole source of preparation for any climb. Professional training and assistance should be obtained before making any sort of climb in which a rope is needed.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.


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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.

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