Professional climber scales WRAL tower
Posted December 1, 2011
How's this for a cool job? Murray Adams is a professional climber and has been at WRAL this week, climbing our 300-foot tower to get it ready for tonight's lighting.
I snapped some pictures as he strapped on his gear, which can weigh up to 70 pounds, and made his way to the top.
"I'd probably do it for free, I enjoy it so much," he said.
Murray began climbing in the 70s, starting out on a small Ham Radio tower at his house, and said he used to get scared after 30 or 40 feet. Now, he can climb a 2,000-foot tower in about 2 ½ hours without any fear.
"Fortunately, we all (professional climbers) take the risk very seriously," he said. "We're very cautious. We're not daredevils. We want to go home at night like everybody else."
Murray spent 18 years as an engineer working at WNCT in Greenville and UNC-TV. He did some tower climbing work on the side and decided to pursue it full-time in 1998. He jokes that his job is just like anybody else's.
"My office is just a little bit higher, and I have a better view," he said, with a smile.
Climbing up is not a problem, he says, but getting down can be tough.
"Climbing down, especially the last 1,000 feet, you're really out of gas," he said.
Wind and other elements can be an issue when he's that high in the air. Murray's closest call happened about 11 or 12 years ago, when lightning struck a guy-wire on a tower he was climbing. Fortunately, he was OK and says he does his best to avoid climbing in bad weather.
When he began his climbing career, Murray didn't have to be certified, but that has since changed. He completed a three-day climbing and rescue training course at N.C. A&T, which included CPR and other life-saving techniques.
For those who wonder if they could do Murray's job, he suggests trying rock climbing and mountain climbing first.
"That'd be a good way to know if you're really afraid of heights," he said.
There is a major perk to climbing for a living, says Murray.
"This (tower) is my Stairmaster. I don't have to worry about going to a gym," he said, with a laugh.