8/8/13 - Who do you call when the 292-foot-high wind turbine that powers your business needs cleaning? If you're Mark Richey, one of America's premier exploratory alpinists, you do the job yourself.
Richey's architectural woodworking company in Newburyport, Massachusetts, installed the 600-kilowatt turbine in early 2009 to help power the manufacturing plant and offices. This week, the 55-year-old climber headed up the tower with rappelling and jugging gear to scrub the blades.
Over a 30-plus-year climbing career, Richey has done numerous first ascents around the world, including, in 2011, the first ascent of 24,655-foot Saser Kangri II, then the second-highest unclimbed peak in the world, with Steve Swenson and Freddie Wilkinson. By comparison, a wind tower was child's play.