You won’t find any horses or cowboys at this rodeo. Instead the tools of the trade are steel shank boots, floating belts, safety straps, gaff guards and climber pads. The Pacific Northwest Lineman Rodeo is all about the men and women who work on power lines to keep the lights and computers running. At the rodeo both journeyman and apprentices compete for speed in events that simulate every day work.
One of the events was a pole climb and did those guys go. Made my knees ache! This guy is at the top of the pole. Their boots are made with steel shanks and have spikes sort of like studs on your car. This is for grabbing onto the pole as they climb. He is leaning back into his leather safety strap. This is a strap that is wrapped around the pole and secured on either side of a harness they wore.
The hurt man rescue isn’t very typical, but practice never hurts. Bent over backwards in the picture is a dummy simulating an injured man tangled in some lines and probably shocked from electricity. The lineman climbs up the pole to the injured man. All his tools are raised up to him in a bucket on a pulley system. After getting the injured man in a harness, the lineman cuts the lines the injured man was tangled in and the lineman’s partner lowers the injured man to the ground, once again using a pulley system.
Other events included the high line event, insulator replacement event and relay event. Many events were done in pairs of lineman. In all of the events, the equipment used was raised and lowered by pulley including the ladder. The guys would climb up the pole with their spiky boots and no harness. Once at the top, they hooked their safety strap into place. They also wore big heavy gloves when dealing with any wires. While speed was the name of the game, their work was also judged for accuracy. The apprentices also took written tests that were judged and they had to demonstrate intricate work with the rope they use. One test was some fancy knot work. My son’s stint in Boy Scouts would have given him the edge here.
Here I am in a harness getting ready to go up in an aerial bucket. Today, instead of climbing the pole, the bucket is used as much as possible, mostly to save wear and tear on the body. Linemen only climb the poles when a bucket truck can’t get into the repair location. The ride up was smooth, operated by a 17 year veteran. Here is the view of the rodeo from the top of the bucket.
What is a rodeo without vendors such as this one selling linemen supplies. There were also several food vendors, some informational tents and a raffle. Part of the raffle money was donated to the Oregon Burn Center.
The rodeo is used as training for apprentices and as practice for journeymen. Journeymen complete as a team while Apprentices compete head to head. Winners of this rodeo go on to the International Lineman Rodeo in Kansas City, MO.