Scaling the Mast

At a National Trust Craft Fayre we saw a Naval re-enactment society who had rigged a replica mast from a tall ship attached to which was a horizontal spar (or yard). The idea was that a sailor would sit on this yard, hold on to the mast and be hauled up to the top of the mast. This is a very simple project but safety precautions must be taken.


  • 1 x 6m (20ft) sturdy spar
  • 1 x 20m (70ft) rope to suit blocks
  • 1 x 2.4m (8ft) spar
  • 2 lashing lengths
  • 4 large pegs
  • 1 long climbing strop
  • 4 pickets
  • 2 carabineers
  • 1 maul or sledge hammer
  • 1 full body harness
  • 2 x double blocks
  • 1 climbing rope
  • 4 x 7m (25ft) ropes to act as guys
  • 1 climbing helmet


One double block is attached approx 0.6m (2ft) from each end of the 6m (20ft) spar.

An eye splice should be formed in one end of the 20m (70ft) rope. Alternatively, a double figure of eight knot could be tied.

The plain end of the 20m (70ft) rope is passed through the top block, down through the lower block, back up through the top one and finally out through the lower one ie the plain end should now be near the butt end of the spar.

The 4 x 7m (25ft) guy ropes are tied to the top end of the 6m (20ft) spar, above the top block.

A lashing length is attached to one end of the 2.4m (8ft) spar using a rolling hitch plus a couple of half hitches for safety.

The other end of the lashing length is passed through the eye splice (or the loop of the double figure of eight knot) and tied of at the far end of the 2.4m (8ft) spar, again using a rolling hitch plus two half hitches.

One of the carabineers is attached to the 6m (20ft) spar using the strop, between the top block and the guys, and the climbing rope passed through it. The ends of the climbing rope are tied off near the butt end of the 6m (20ft) spar.

The 6m (20ft) spar is raised to the vertical and pegged out using the 4 pickets.

Check that the spar is really vertical and then drive the 4 large pegs in tight against the butt and bind around them with the last lashing length.

To use this project a Scout, wearing the harness and helmet, sits on the centre of the 2.4m (8ft) spar, facing the vertical spar, and is raised up by the rest of the team pulling on the lower end of the 20m rope.

Care must be taken when raising the ‘mast’ not to allow the yard (horizontal spar) to swing about and cause injuries or damage.

The climbing rope should be used to belay the Scout riding up the mast and a Leader who is suitably qualified in rock climbing techniques must supervise this.

To download the complete plan and design document please Click Here

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls