The most dangerous workplace on Earth!
You can climb the peaks of the world and come back alive. But if you climb the exterior of the Antenna Mast of the CN Tower unprepared, you will be fried by the MW radiation from the TV broadcast transmitter. First your blood will boil, then your brain, your eye pimples and your testicles.
We are a one-of-a-kind agency with a long time experience on solving cost effective problems, safety and innovation. We are pioneers in unconventional aerial, highrise, extreme remote access and rope rescue services. Our reputation was built by completing some of the most challenging remote access projects in highrise environment and heli operations. One of them is the first exterior repair at 450-500 meters during winter extreme conditions and winds above 60km/h
Our founder Ivan Kristoff was tasked to provide the very first special rope access services at high altitude for the world’s tallest building and free standing structure in 2003.
For this project, his focus was on safety, innovation and solving cost effective problems. It was the most comprehensive extreme remote high rise access services on the planet.
The work was completed in the most challenging environment (RF exposure) ever experienced in the rope access industry, during winter extreme conditions and winds above 60km/h.
Up there, he solved the near 30 years dilemma of who would be the first one solve the problems on the highest structure in the world.
“I was the fist man, who solved the problems and provided the best solution how to rig the system. I had to cut the N/W/E/S hatches at the base of the Antenna mast and work on work with by my own Highrise Emergency Response Plan… I don’t want to be so direct, neither to brag, but I had to set the Rules of engagements and complete solo the job, years before Can-USA got there.
I set up a system, so that could extract me remotely if I become immobilized due to the severe conditions in the upcoming final stage, that was foretasted to be brutal. Too bad that the brave and tough rope access techs got scared up there, where thing got tough:) At that day, I was in a one-of-a-kind situation, when the only person in the world who can help me was only me…
For the record, since I was the first person in the world, who had to work at that height and on the tallest tower at that time, I was given the Green Light to pass on Red Light by the “Powers that Be” – the Canadian government. When I had a meeting with the Almighty Top engineer of and Ontario Ministry of Labour, who govern the By-laws of any suspended work in the region and showed my unique for Canada Highrise Emergency Aerial Response Plan, she said to me:” Ivan, up there, there is no one to inspect you. We don’t even want to know what you are doing there. Only if you make an accident, we will go after you with the full force and ‘sue the Hell out of you”. I laughed: “If anything goes wrong, you could not event be able to pick all pieces of me…”
The icy blast were sometimes so violent that I was blown away from the side of the building. Overcoming the pain from hitting the wall a few times and summoning more strength to continue my work, there was no question of giving up my assignment. Not even taking a break. Only a few pills to reduce the pain. The job had to be completed regarding of the obstacles.
You lick your wounds, you wipe out the blood from your face and keep going.
These are the moments, when I feel intimately linked in a personal and brutal struggle with nature. You can survive and thrive on the challenges ahead only if you remain your courage and determination intact. You think of nothing but achieving your goal. And when you are too busy to think, your instincts and character controls the situation. Sometimes safety is out of the window, achieving the expectations of my clients is always my priority.
Extreme rope access operations at the Wonder of the Modern World
How to use the experience from climbing a 5555 meters tall mountain peak on a 555 meters urban highrise tower
Now, the highest building in the world is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but there is no comparison for working in extreme winds, cold weather and dangerous environment at elevation of 555 meters above the ground worst when the well scheduled job had to be completed earlier.
The Mission: To complete successfully the first rope access work on the exterior of the inaccessible parts of tallest tower on the planet.
The Method: Pioneering new tricks and conquering new frontiers.
After an enormous effort, and despite lethal dangers, a Canadian high altitude and aerial rope access expert Ivan Kristoff from Toronto, has completed emergency repair on the highest TV tower in the world.
Burj Khalifa is the highest building in the world (828 meters), but there is no comparison for working in extreme winds, cold weather and dangerous environment high up in the air. Things got worst when the well scheduled job had to be completed earlier.
Upon the request from management and the consulting engineers, who were supervising the job, Ivan had to finish earlier, but still paid the same amount regardless if he had to work less time. Even though this was convenient for him, Ivan declared that he will complete his mission within the new time schedule, without compromising the quality and expected results.
A lot of the time of the work at high elevation was spent on over safety and extra precautions for risk free vertical and horizontal access on the slopes of the tallest Antenna Mast in the world. No one has ever dealt with the obstacles and challenges that Ivan Kristoff had to meet at such a high profile and confidential project before. Anything Ivan had to prepare for this job and conduct on the exterior of the Highest Observation Desk at this time, was well organized and monitored by the best professionals and strictest standards on safety.
Now, things had to be revised. In order to fulfill his own expectation and complete the task within the limited time, Ivan drew in his vision what he calls “The Smart Risk line” before continuing his work progress. So far, Ivan exceeded the expectations for safety, higher and stricter even of these set by the Construction Occupational Health and Safety laws, set by the Ontario Ministry of Labor. He was secured by his higher attached rope, plus one extra line from the left, one extra line from the right and – believe it or not- one line form the back, attached to the lower part of the slope, where he was working. The forces of the winds, sometimes above 60km/h, were too strong to ignore.
You can figure it out for yourself, how many lines had to be adjusted for even moving one step in progress. A lot of time had to be wasted and a lot of energy had to be consumed from every movement. But now he had to go easier and move faster. The time was clicking.
The Canadian Spiderman, as Ivan Kristoff is famous for in his hometown Toronto, now had to put his creative mind and innovative working procedures in full power. After working for over three weeks, for 18 hours a day, without a break, eating mostly fluid nutrition, protein shakes and energy drinks, Ivan had to endure working on full throttle for the next 24 hours. Not to mention the special pills he had to take against the sea sickness at this high altitude. That was the paradox, and as Ivan calls it the “Tower pathology” due to horizontal movement of a few feet of the highest antenna mast on the planet. If you have a difficulty to believe it, please go there and try to lift up one of your legs and see how long can you stand?
But nothing was new to Spider-man. Ivan had the experience from climbing 14 prior to that Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus, Europe’s highest mountain. Since then Ivan prepared himself for jobs and emergency response like this by flying with rescue pilots, and participating in sports like paragliding, skydiving, scuba diving, caving, rock and ice climbing, motorcycle riding and any other extreme sports where simple things like breathing, rigging and rapid response reflexes can be learned.
Vertical Rush – 555
Now, at this point Ivan Kristoff have become the first to complete the highest exterior repair on the world’s tallest tower. There was no margin for error with its steep ice-covered slopes and danger of falling icicles from above. The endless cold blowing wind was not making things easier.
The principal of Ivan Kristoff Communications Inc., also had to stay completely focused on the job and not drop any tools or equipment from the height of over 1500 feet. Any falling object form this height would be a lethal weapon on the ground level, where people can pass by. Ivan was facing the danger of being blown away by the winds, which were at least three times higher than on Ground Zero level. No high-rise maintenance work could ever compare to the unknown dangers of this experimenting project. Ivan was his own experimental animal. He could not learn form anybody’s experience and mistake, than his own. He was on the bleeding edge of pioneering new tricks and conquering new frontiers.
For the high mountain expedition style work progress Ivan spent a total of 20 years in the vertical environment. Since the age of 10, he was introduced to the ropes by his friends – experienced cavers and alpine climbers. Two decades of free-style climbing solo steep rocks, ascending solo high mountains and descending solo deep caves. It was the ultimate fringe experience for the multi-talented sportsman: “The stress and strain is overwhelming, and the life-threatening dangers are omnipresent on this tower.“
Some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world can take place in that part of the world, and once they were forced to shovel the snow like mad to stay alive before abandoning their campsite to flee to the safety of a snow cave. A few Canadian workers and a volunteer rope work stunt man died a few hundred meters down in the adjacent building, while working simpler rope and suspended access work. ”An experienced stuntman who plummeted 10 storeys to the floor of SkyDome failed to make a complete check of his equipment before the fatal fall”, wrote the Canadian News Digest.
Ivan was aware in detail of the lessons of these tragic accidents. That is why he did not allow any of his employees do the job. He was the only one qualified and confident in his knowledge man to the right job with the right attitude for this altitude. At the pinnacle of his career, working with the best professionals, and enjoying the harsh environment Ivan was pleased and happy to accept the nee challenge. Nothing was going to stop him for giving his best for the people who trusted him.
As Ivan recalls,” I am client and mission oriented person. In extreme situations and dangerous environment is where you put your professionalism at the test. How you think in the first seconds, when you get in scary situations and your life is on the line, will reflect on your course of action that will shape your life and carrier further. When you face death defying problems at the height of near 500 meters above the ground, 50 feet blown away from the building and looking up at your frozen ropes, have to make split second decisions between slamming into the wall, or frying in microwave radiation, then you really learn who you are. If you think first of the consequences for your clients, then the men who referred you for this job and the last thing for yourself – then your name must Ivan Kristoff or one-of-a-kind breed. That is when I learned something that you don’t see in the action movies and comic books about Spiderman and his colleagues.”
What happened there for this vital 24 hours is a unique story, which Ivan will share one day with us in his upcoming book. It was a trivial moment for him, when he had to pick up the internal line phone and call the Management Office at around 23:50 o’clock and confirm that the mission is completed and the can turn on the radio transmission in full power. That was just a few minutes before the forced dead line.
Ivan is proud of the Industrial dimensions of his endeavor: His company was the chosen contractor to summit the unexplored areas of the benchmark of Canadian construction and economy, and the first man to succeed in his dream of life “being up there, where I had to look up high when a was riding my speedy motorcycle” and be on “Top of the Urban World”, as Ivan described it.
We are very pleased with the high angle work you completed above the CN Tower’s Skypod. The work was conducted with professionalism and your safety standards were impeccable. As you know the CN Tower is a wonder of the modern world at a height of 1815 feet and 5 inches. Once again thank you for your support and assisting us with your technical expertise. Your innovative solutions aided our structural engineering team with detailed reports.“ writes in year 2004 Nick MIgliore, executive Director of Operations and Security of the CN Tower.