Cleaning specialists doubly secure

The cleaning work on Mount Rushmore is being performed at dizzying heights. Conventional methods of access such as scaffolds, powered access equipment, lift buckets and work platforms could not be considered due to the topographical conditions. For this reason the specialists get to their mountain-top workplaces using a carefully thought-out rope access technique. A fixed cladded core fibre rope allows exact positioning of the cleaning specialists on the mountain. A second rope increases their overall safety. The lifelines are anchored above the work area, on the heads of the presidents. The specialists lower themselves into position from this point. Thanks to so-called ascenders or rope grabs, they can move freely up and down without assistance.

The cleaning specialists on Mount Rushmore work in very different positions: Sometimes they are able to stand with both feet on the rock, sometimes they are suspended in mid-air; now and then they even lie horizontally – when it is necessary to clean the underside of an overhanging rock – below a chin or nose, for example.

Most of the techniques and equipment used for working at heights originated in mountaineering. Nevertheless, rope-assisted working methods have very little in common with climbing or mountaineering. Being a good leisure-time climber does not necessarily mean that one is suitable for working at heights. Working in high places where access is difficult remains the realm of specially trained and examined personnel – always under the direction of a qualified supervisor.