It’s not a widely known fact, but then again it isn’t a secret either, that long before I was an abstractor for cell tower searches, I actually climbed cell towers.  I would have to say that it was probably the most exciting and fun job I have ever had – not without its moments though.

Cell Tower SearchIced

Iced Tower

Like the time I was on the top of a tower for 5 hours in 20 degree wind chill working with small nuts and bolts.  I would take my gloves off to work and then put them back on to warm up.  I couldn’t work with them on because of the danger of dropping a part.  It’s not like I could simply bend over and pick it back up.
Working on a cell tower has its quirks.

There is always the danger of falling to some degree, although safety precautions are pretty darn safe.  I mean you are tied off to tons of steel when you are working.  But what if that steel were to fall?

Back around 2000 I was climbing a tower in Colorado City, TX with a buddy, which was about 400 feet and change high.  We were mapping it out (taking detail measurements) for a co-lo (co-location) that was going to go up.  The client wanted to do stress simulations etc.

Cell Tower Search Guy Wires

Cell Tower Guy Wires

Anyway, this tower is right next to another tower.  We are climbing the taller one.  We are about a 1/3 the way up (mapped from the bottom up) when I see the guy wire of our tower is being pushed up by the guy wire of the other tower.  Not sure how the crew missed that one, but they did.

In case you are wondering this is not a good thing.  One wire can cause the other wire to break, then the whole thing comes down.  That would mean both towers.  And the metal of both wires were darker than the rest indicating possible erosion.

But we figured hey, it’s lasted this long.  What’s the big deal?

We are at the top and almost done when our tower jolts and shakes.  This also is not a good thing. Guy towers aren’t supposed to do that.  They can thrum and vibrate in a high wind, but not jolt and shake.

Needless to say we climbed down that 400+ feet faster than you can imagine and drove out of range real quick like.  Because those hundreds of feet of high tension cable become giant scythes that can cut through a car.

We never went back.  We turned in our report and never heard anything one way or the other.  And I had completely forgotten about it over the last 15 years.  Every now and then the story would come up with telling people of my tower days, but other than that – out of sight out of mind.

Cell Tower Search Map

Cell Tower Search GIS Map

Then I received a cell tower search order from my client.  Keep in mind that we do cell tower searches in counties nationwide, not just Texas.  I started doing the usual by examining the maps and surveys.  And then I did what I normally do when possible and got a personal look at the thing on Google Maps street view.

I was flabbergasted.  There I was face to face again (sort of) with the old “Cell Towers of Doom”!  Well they’re both still standing.  Whether the cables were ever fixed or not, I don’t know.  Don’t plan on climbing up there to find out any time soon either.

What surprised me was not that they were still standing, but that of “all the gin joints in world” or in this case abstractors, I get this cell tower search.

What are the odds?

A little cosmic closure I guess.