I have been working as an antenna tower builder/climber for 6 years now, and still alive. It's a crazy job but my office view is better than damn near any ones else. There have been many close calls, I haven't killed anyone yet, thank god, I think I may have issues loving the fact that I get to kick death in the balls and laugh damn near every day. Here's a pic of me at the top of a 400 foot tower I built. https://scontent-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hprofile-xaf1/v/t1.0-1/c62.0.160.160/p160x160/10370351_941002032581056_1131539466806807975_n.jpg?oh=e4494520058b860c16fb2f753fd1c92b&oe=56E7A719

Comments: 154 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

notimetoexplainrun10 karma

I see in another comment in this post you said you like to jump out of planes. BASE jumping ever cross your mind while you're up there?

For those that don't know, the A in BASE stands for antenna. Building, Antenna, Span, Earth

crazycajun66626 karma

YES!!!!!! All the time, I have my own chute but my boss is VERY strict about me not jumping off ANY towers due to the fact that i'm the only person in the company that will do tower work and he is scared if my chute don't open it will be difficult to find a replacement for me

___senorchuletas___6 karma

Would a parachute open in time?it's not high enough is it?

crazycajun6667 karma

the average height i climb is 400 foot, thats plenty of time for a chute to open

danegeroust2 karma

Also in the industry, what kind of company do you work for that builds towers but only has one tower climber? Who's on rescue?

crazycajun6661 karma

I work for a mom and pop radio company. Nobody is on rescue, I do however always have a guy on the ground that can let the office know if I fall and die.

69Chiefqueef7 karma

Have you ever climbed up to the top and then realised that you forgot to bring something?

crazycajun6663 karma

After doing that a few times and after much cursing I now bring a small light rope up with me just for those occasions

tokyofightsback6 karma

What do you do on those towers? When I was in the Navy, I had to do maintenance on radio antennas, even out at sea on a tower that was swaying wildly. And I could not see myself climbing a 400 ft tower.

crazycajun6668 karma

I do everything, build them, paint them, install antennas, change light bulbs, whatever needs to be done. Even though my towers are on land they still sway pretty bad once you get up to around 200 foot and beyond. How high were the towers you were climbing?

tokyofightsback2 karma

Mine were only about 40 feet. But with the rocking and rolling, it was really scary.

crazycajun6661 karma

Yeah I hate it when they start rocking and shaking I can only imagine how bad it would be out on the water

retsnomis5 karma

did you ever have to get over a fear of heights? have suggestions for people trying to?

crazycajun66615 karma

honestly, I have never had many fears, I live in the south so from a young age I was always doing dumb shit that would make most people cringe like using alligators as ramps while water skiing, if you have a fear of heights the best thing I can recommend is climbing to a height that you are kinda uncomfortable with and stopping there for a moment to get used to being there and at the same time enjoying the view

applesauce426 karma

alligators as ramps while water skiing

haha you asshole. imagine being a gator just chillin then all of a sudden this board smashes into your back lol

crazycajun6662 karma

they have REALLY hard heads.

steve76ers5 karma

Nope?

crazycajun6665 karma

what do you mean by nope, you wouldn't do what i do, or do you think that isn't me?

steve76ers8 karma

Original comment was just "Nope" but it has to be a question so I resubmitted.

crazycajun6664 karma

ah, ok, my bad, didn't realize this was that strict, if you ever feel like getting "high" as I like to call it when I go to work please let me know cause it is really peaceful up there

Qscfr4 karma

  1. Have you ever done anything like climbing heights prior? 2.What made you want to be a tower climber and builder? 3.Do you feel you get paid enough for being face to face to death or does kicking death in the balls take care of that. 4.Have you considered making a snapchat/instagram of doing something funny each time you are on top of the tower? Like one time you should bring a fishing pole and fish for birds. Something weird like that.

crazycajun6669 karma

no, I never climbed anything but trees when I was little before, my boss asked me to do so, so I said yes just cause I thought it would be fun, Yes, I get paid DAMN good to do what I do. No, I don't snapchat/instagram at all, but for shits and giggles i'll get to the top of tower and do a few pull ups with no safety gear to get my blood flowing. The bird fishing comment was pretty interesting though cause one time I had a bald eagle circle a tower I was on below me and I thought that was pretty cool.

Qscfr5 karma

When I read the pull ups I thought of a buff Russian with a strong accent saying "400 feet Pull up make man strong".

I also love climbing trees. So much that my parents cut down the trees in my backyard. I had 2 accidents. One I dropped pretty high up and was able to walk right up and go. And the second time I decided to come out of tree climbing retirement and broke a branch and fell sideways hitting headfirst on a rock. Would still do it again. I think the highest I climbed was 50 or so feet. I could see my whole neighborhood. I am deciding right now to be a programmer or a antenna builder....

crazycajun6667 karma

I have seen lots of those russian guys doing that and I just laugh cause I do that kinda shit every day and if you ever want a real view of the world around you come work with me for a day, and if you are considering doing this kinda work all I can say is get in shape and don't make any mistakes cause you don't get second chances doing this kinda work

Hypno-phile2 karma

you don't get second chances doing this kinda work

Says the guy who also said:

but for shits and giggles i'll get to the top of tower and do a few pull ups with no safety gear to get my blood flowing.

No conflict there?

crazycajun6664 karma

no, cause if you do this kinda work you have to trust yourself and your physical limits, I do crazy things like that to keep things interesting and fun for me

ssel3 karma

I want a signed proof from the top of the tower stating the date and your user name, hold the camera in one hand and the proof in the other

crazycajun66641 karma

how bout this, I write ssel on the back of my hand with a sharpie and give you the middle finger while i'm at the top of a tower and i'll even kick in the date just below your user name since you want to be so specific

scootscoot3 karma

I'm fine with ssel getting the finger. :)

crazycajun6662 karma

lol i'm really considering it

keepcalm23 karma

Have you ever thrown a paper airplane from the top of a tower? If so, how far did it fly?

crazycajun6664 karma

no, I have never thrown a paper airplane off a tower but I have thrown many other objects off the tower ranging from fruit to bad antennas, the fruit just disappears once it hits the ground, if I throw something metal off it usually just gets buried in the ground

keepcalm22 karma

I had a friend drop a cell phone off a water tower once.

crazycajun6667 karma

that's funny, cause I once had a phone that was giving me trouble so I threw it off a tower at about 350 feet and some how it survived believe it or not

___senorchuletas___9 karma

Was it a Nokia?

crazycajun66620 karma

hahahahahahahaha, It's funny you ask that, and yes, it was!!!!!

JoeCraftingJoe3 karma

You sound like a fun guy to hang out with :)

crazycajun6662 karma

I like to enjoy life, you only get one so why not live it to the fullest.

JoeCraftingJoe1 karma

Gotta agree with that mate, any tips for country to start with if one wants ti do this job ? where i live dosent have towers

crazycajun6661 karma

first of all, move to somewhere that has towers.

acedelaf3 karma

What's the highest you've climbed? How long did it take?

crazycajun66613 karma

The highest I have been was 1000 feet, it took me about 3 hours to get there and damn near killed me getting there but I was determined to break that 1000 foot mark, as a climber you set or have goals you want to accomplish and that was a big one for me. I'd do it again any day of the week cause it was freaking awesome.

wowdisco1 karma

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crazycajun6666 karma

the physical exerction alone air doesn't start to get thin till much higher

Triabolical_1 karma

Fyi, you lose about 2.5% of your oxygen every thousand feet up.

crazycajun6662 karma

It's rare I go that high

jodianderson1 karma

The industry standard is 10 minutes for every 100 feet. My husband gets to 1000 feet in around 90 minutes.

crazycajun6661 karma

I was very out of shape when I climbed to 1000

PatrickBecerra1 karma

What tower was 1000 feet?

crazycajun6662 karma

The tower is higher than 1000 but i only had to go to 1000. Its in vacherie LA

Avid_for_Avid2 karma

I am a broadcast engineer. I can't imagine climbing our 2 thousand foot towers. Hell, even the 150 ft tower at the station scares me to death.

crazycajun6661 karma

It's all the same to me, 10 feet or 1000 feet, i just takes longer to get to the top

The_gambler19733 karma

does it pay well? How did you get into it?

crazycajun6669 karma

Yeah, it pays pretty damn well, I have worked for a communication company for the past 10 years and once my boss found out I like to jump out of planes for fun on the weekends he asked me if i wanted to climb towers and I said yes cause its an adreline fix that i am getting paid for.

wowdisco2 karma

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crazycajun6667 karma

You have no idea how much physical effort it takes to climb that high, I use pretty much every muscle in my body while climbing, to give you an idea of what it takes, on an average day I will loose 5-8 pounds depending on what time of year it is so if you like eating as much as you can in a day and still drop weight come work with me for a while

RJnwsk3 karma

What if you have to pee? Do you just pull your pecker out and point or is there a more professional and pdiscreet way of going about it?

crazycajun6662 karma

I don't take bathroom breaks, I am usually too involved with concentrating on the work or not falling to worry about having to pee

CuloMaster2 karma

Have you worked with Luke McCown?

crazycajun6666 karma

hahahahahahahaahahaha, Thats fucking hilarious!!!!!!!! no, I haven't but ironically I live in LA and I am a saints fan, don't judge me on that but hey, I gotta support my home team

jasonok62 karma

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crazycajun6666 karma

not much really, due to the circumstances of getting into this kind of work I am pretty much self taught, my company needed someone to it so I was asked to step up, I could teach a drunk monkey to do what I do, you just have to be at a certain level of crazy to attempt what I do

wowdisco1 karma

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crazycajun6665 karma

I'm not the engineer, I'm just the monkey that climbs and makes things work, my boss is the engineer and honestly one of the smartest guys I have ever known so I trust him when he says "This should work"

wowdisco1 karma

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crazycajun6664 karma

I use whats called a gin pole, it's just a pipe with a pulley at the top of it that has a rope that goes through it to pull up 10 foot sections and every 50 foot it has whats called guy wires, the wires that stabalize the tower connected to the ground, and yes I have ground crew that helps me and I wish I had a crane

wowdisco1 karma

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crazycajun6664 karma

lol, no, that would be insane, we use a winch to get the sections up there

wowdisco1 karma

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crazycajun6663 karma

I said a winch but it's really called a cat head winch and yeah they pretty cool

BuckeysBanana2 karma

What was it like climbing up your first time?

crazycajun6664 karma

I was kind of lucky with that, I started building towers after my company lost 2 towers due to a hurricane, so I started from the ground and worked my way up so it was a learning process untill I got used to it.

BuckeysBanana2 karma

How big are your balls? and how do those towers hold the massive weight of them?

crazycajun6665 karma

hahahaha, they are just above average size, but they are solid brass, lol, and don't worry towers can handle a lot of weight so i'm good

CACTUS_VISIONS1 karma

Do you ever have to weld anything? I just ended my first semester of welding school. didnt know if yall did anything like that while you were up there

crazycajun6661 karma

no, everything is held together with bolts. If you wanna make some good money welding learn how to do it underwater, I have friends that work offshore doing that and some of them 6 figures a year.

Buddy_Guy_Pal_Cheif1 karma

how much do you get paid and do you have benefits? My buddy climbs cellphone towers and loves it but always complains about the pay and no benefits. They tried going union but it failed in a vote.
We go rock climbing every week so his climbing kinda rubbed off on me.

crazycajun6661 karma

I get paid pretty well, I can't complain at all, I do have benefits blue cross blue shield, vision, dental, the whole package. The cell tower thing is kinda messed up cause usually they are contractors working for at&t, sprint, etc. and can get away with under paying workers.

ayye_ya_TOKEN_ta_meh1 karma

Have you climbed or know anyone who has climbed the KVLY tower in ND?

crazycajun6661 karma

no i'm in south louisiana

ds26001 karma

You ever zip line down the guys to grease them?

crazycajun6661 karma

no the angle is too steep

MonktonInsults1 karma

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crazycajun6661 karma

I stay close to the tower and use my legs as much as possible

MasterAgent471 karma

1) What are a few memorable moments of yours on towers?

2) Any stories you want to share?

crazycajun6661 karma

I once dropped a crescent wrench and did not notice, (I keep my tools on ropes attached to me) when it hit the ground it was about 2 feet from one of my ground crew, even with hard hats on it would have killed him. There have been many, many close calls doing this and i'm glad I have not killed anyone and i'm still alive.

LabRat3141 karma

No helmet?

crazycajun6661 karma

why would I wear a helmet when i'm not at risk

battledome1 karma

You ever sneak in and climb towers after hours, just for kicks?

crazycajun6667 karma

haha, no, the energy and effort alone getting to the top of a tower is insane, after a day on a tower I usually have to consume 4 to 5000 calories in one meal just to compensate for the weight I lose, on average I drop 4 to 8 pounds in a day, so doing it for kicks is not really an option, although I prolly could win a bunch of bets doing it for fun lol

Connor10211 karma

1 pound is 3500 calories, so you might want to consume a bit more than 5000 if you're actually losing 8 pounds a day. Or your maths are off

crazycajun6662 karma

You are forgetting about sweat, in the summer I make it rain, literally. Sorry for the bad joke but its true.

RealPeterNorth1 karma

Ever poop off the tower way up there ? That would be cool

crazycajun6662 karma

lol, thats a question I get alot, and no, sorry, if that nature call ever comes it's always mind over matter, I don't pee or poop off the tower cause it's very difficult and pretty dangerous to take off my harness to do so

Es_Poon1 karma

Not even pee?? I work on cell towers and pee off them all the time. I just lift my spreader bar so I can get to my zipper. The process is way more difficult on windy days and in the winter.

crazycajun6662 karma

nah, I usually just hold it till I get down on the ground cause a few towers I climb are in a traffic areas and yeah the wind is almost always blowing the wrong way

wowdisco1 karma

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crazycajun6663 karma

hams usually do all their own work or have friends that will do it for them, I usually don't do private work cause they don't want to pay for anything

Josephdirte1 karma

How many shirts have you seen down?

crazycajun6662 karma

I'm usually so high all I can see is what color shirt someone has on

Es_Poon1 karma

What is your preferred harness? I've climbed with an Elk River and an ExoFit. I prefer the Elk River for overall comfort but the bosun's seat is way more comfortable in the ExoFit, especially when working from a rappel.

crazycajun6661 karma

i'm not a fan of a bosun seat I just use a miller air core due to weight and coolness cause I live in the deep south so its hot as hell most of the year here

Es_Poon1 karma

Awesome. I work mostly in VA and NC. I'm currently deployed and missing being up on the towers. Be safe brother.

crazycajun6662 karma

Thank you for your service and YOU be safe

taken_a_blank1 karma

Hey, this seems like a pretty cool job. I'm a rock climber myself, any advice on how to get into a job like this?

crazycajun6662 karma

Just don't go work for contractors cause they rip you off with pay and benefits. Most companies that have climbers just look for people that are willing to do the work.

cruftbox1 karma

I used to manage engineering for radio stations and their towers. Occasionally we'd need a tower repainted. From what we were told, this was the worst tower task, hand painting a tower, foot by foot, with a large paint sponge and bucket.

What is your experience with tower painting?

crazycajun6661 karma

It is prolly the worst thing to do on a tower, paint gets everywhere and makes things slippery and thats really the last thing you want. I have painted 4 towers so far, thankfully the paint lasts a good while so its not like an annual thing.

vituperation1 karma

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the profession? Your job has been my career ambition for a few years now, I'm just about to complete a qualification in telecoms and get my working at heights ticket. What else should I be doing? As a secondary question, how many women are there doing what you do? Edit: autocorrect

crazycajun6661 karma

First of all, get in shape and get your cardio and stamina up cause it's gonna kick your ass if not. To be honest, boss just asked me to do this one day and so I just started climbing so I don't know everything involved with qualifications and what not. I have only ever met one other guy that climbs so I would say there might not be too many women that climb, that would be pretty hot though, not to offend you but that would be awesome to see a woman climb.

midnitewarrior1 karma

My father had a friend who did your job and fell to his death because he was not wearing a safety harness. I recently read that not using safety gear is still a common practice.

Do you use safety gear? If not, why not?

crazycajun6662 karma

I still free climb, I use my harness and safety belt while working. Believe it or not OSHA is ok with free climbing due to the fact that climbing a tower while 100% tied off involves alot more steps and is a very slow process.

shoostrings1 karma

I know I'm late to the party, but hopefully I'll get a reply from you eventually.. thanks for doing this ama by the way!

I've always heard as you said that it doesn't take much education to climb towers. Well I made the mistake of getting an electrical engineering degree even though I also like to jump out of planes and rock climb as well. Do you think there are any tower jobs out there that might require a college degree? I know it's typically just simple electronics replacement up there but it seems like maybe they'd need diagnostics every once in a while or something...

Thanks again for your ama!

crazycajun6661 karma

I really doubt any degree would help, most employers are looking for people with the balls to do it and as far as diagnostics the most you will do is hook up a meter to the coax or the antenna to test it and if its bad you change it, it's usually that simple.

walrusses2stronk1 karma

i enjoy climbing onto cranes, buildings etc, but due to legal risks i have to do it at night, i'd like to go up on an antenna tower during the day, because these are generally placed in remote locations(although the ones here in the netherlands are generally lower), but have trouble identifying which are safe to climb and which aren't. from what i know AM & FM waves will fuck my shit up while the directional dishes wont. is there truth to this? and how do i spot wether or not there are dangerous radiowaves/radiation?

oh, and if you despise me for what i enjoy like some builders on reddit seem to do even though i don't vandalise anything, why? am i breaking shit without noticing that you have to go and fix?

crazycajun6662 karma

Hey man, it's all good that you enjoy climbing, but do some research on what you see on the tower because microwave antennas will damn near cook you. Another thing is I would get as close as you can to what you want to climb during the day to check to see if it's safe enough to climb and not rusted to shit and plan it out cause climbing at night is not safe at all!!! I don't want to tell you what to look for because I live in America and I don't think there are global standards for antennas.

PatrickBecerra1 karma

I'm a rock climber, I have a love of climbing shit and an intimate knowledge of roped safety systems. Do you think this is decent experience to get started in work like yours?

crazycajun6661 karma

For the most part yeah, but doing this kinda work all you gotta worry about is your harness and safety belt. Only rope I use is for bringing things up and down. I always free climb, the only time I even use my belt is when I need to work.

justler61 karma

What kind of equipment do you need to construct a 100 foot tower on pretty flat ground from the start?

I'm looking at doing this project, I know i'll need proper grounding and a bunch of structural stuff done for depth/width of pad, etc. Something like this i'm assuming you are using a small crane to lift left pieces/etc up, or assemble on the ground then crane up sections? How many guys do you think this takes for a three legged tower? Any pointers?

crazycajun6661 karma

Are you looking to do a self supporting tower or a guyed one and if guyed what size 25g or 55g. We use a cat head winch and a gin pole to assemble sections. As far as your base, my opinion is overkill is an understatement, always go bigger than called for.

KindWords4200 karma

If you fall can I have some of your shit?

crazycajun6664 karma

I get paid VERY well NOT to fall so no, sorry.

KindWords420-7 karma

Do you even humble bro

crazycajun6667 karma

What do you mean by that?