2016 SPRAT Conference & Petzl Rope Trip Part 2
The SPRAT conference this year was held in conjunction with the Petzl Rope Trip and I am sure Salt Lake City, Utah didn’t know what hit it. Rope Access Technicians from 17 different countries were in attendance at both events.
The SPRAT conference took place on the Thursday and Friday (with other committee meetings and evaluator standardization occurring earlier in the week). Day 1 of the conference had different committee meetings. If you have ever sat on any committees or gone to organizational meetings – well this is pretty much the same. It was great however to see some of the proposed upcoming changes to the way SPRAT operates. There were some very active debates around level 2 and level 3 supervisory roles on site as well as required hours and training to obtain each level (don’t worry nothing has changed….yet). As the society grows more changes will occur as SPRAT works to meet the demands of its membership. It is interesting to note that SPRAT is still a consensus based organization. As such, with the growth there are barriers to speedy changes. Should consensus be maintained among the members however it will create codes of practice that are universally accepted.
On the Thursday night Petzl was gracious enough to invite the SPRAT attendees to mix with the Rope Trip attendees. This occured at Petzl’s US headquarters in Salt Lake. The Petzl building is a phenomenal training, practice and learning location. With a 60 odd foot climbing wall mounted to a steel superstructure, replicated building face with window openings as well as catwalks and a full AV lecture facility, the building is ideal for rope access and rescue training (and a bit of climbing as well). Petzl brought in a local brewery for the beer and handed out shot glasses and bandanas. Just what every party needs – free alcohol and masks in a state that has carry laws….
Day 2 of the SPRAT conference had the annual business meeting followed by presentations. SPRAT also provides two grants per year to successful member applicants to create presentations that are of interest to the membership. The presentations this year included winching systems in the rope access industry, transmission tower rope access programs, effects of line and connection failures during pick offs, calculating dynamic load transfer of a vehicle used as an anchor, knotted vs sewn cow’s tails terminations and a twist on a cable stay inspection.
At lunch on day 2 there was a small vendor trade show. Most of the major rope access dealers were in attendance with some very interesting new products on the market. Mechanical advantage systems (jiggers) using smaller diameter cordage (6mm) with small pulleys or mated right to the carabineer were on display from ISC (Haulerbiner), Petzl (JAG) and Sterling (SPARK with the new Pico pulley). The new D5 descended (12.5mm) from ISC as well as the D5Y (Yates for use with Blue Water Armourtech rope) were also being showcased. Petzl had its new rescuecendar on display featuring NO CABLE (wow that was an obvious downfall to rope grabs – its perplexing that it took this long to remove the cable). Harken had their updated winch with the end cap (to prevent any unintended rope slippage) available to play with. Rock Exotica was there with their usual gear porn (who doesn’t love rock gear). Both the Vortex (CMC/Rock) and the Terradaptor (SMC/PMI) were there also. Rounding out the trade show was Buck manufacturing, MAX Gear and Liberty.
The last evening a wrap up was held at the well named Squatters Pub downtown. While conferences are usually a bore, SPRAT picked it up a notch by working with the Rope Trip to create an informative, interesting and exciting event.