Arianne Christiansen is not used to backing down whether she’s faced with climbing a tower or climbing into “the cage” with a ferocious Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) opponent. Currently working for Aircomm as a service technician where she installs two-way radio systems, Christiansen became interested in the field a few years ago when she first met her (now) boyfriend, who is a tower climber.
“When he told me what he did for a living, my response was, ‘So wait, you get paid to work on a giant jungle gym all day?’ The more he told me about his work, the more interested I became to pursue something like that for myself. He loved his job, while making a good income. I wanted that,” she told Inside Towers, “I wanted a more fulfilling career. I wanted financial stability, a career that had potential and growth.”
Christiansen started by being persistent in asking for a chance. Facing skepticism at first and the feeling of not being taken seriously, her tenaciousness and fighting spirit finally won the day and she was offered a job as a climber installing and repairing equipment.
Being the only female who climbed at the company where she got her start, Christiansen said she knew she had to set a precedent. “If the guys were doing something, I was going to do it too,” she said. “No special treatment, no excuses.”
She said it always struck her as amusing when men in the industry were taken off guard by her presence. She recalls once when she was well up the tower with her crew, an auditor, who had just shown up at the site, radioed the foreman. Christiansen asked a question that was followed by a pause on the radio. “Is that a girl up there with you?” he asked, to much laughter. “I’ll be damned.”
“I think fighting has taught me to exercise that mindset. When women train for our fights, oftentimes, we have few other women as our training partners. We have to train with the guys which means keeping up with them. I have been fortunate enough to train with coaches who understood the importance of pushing female fighters just as hard as their male counterparts,” she said. “I’ve never been afraid to train or to climb. For both, the anxieties fall away from the confidence of preparation in training. To prepare for a fight, you have to condition your body and mind to withstand the pressure. With climbing, knowing the procedures to keep me safe while I work helps me feel comfortable and confident. Inspecting your equipment, trusting your ability to use it, being mindful of the safety procedures put in place and upkeep with proper emergency training have enabled me to feel confident even at hundreds of feet up.”
Christiansen believes climbing requires a unique mindset regardless of your sex. As the industry grows, she thinks more women will find the opportunity to join in. But, she said, it is not an easy choice of careers and, clearly, not the same as a desk job. In final analysis, however, she said it’s a thrilling occupation filled with new places and amazing views.
“I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to take on the challenge of the daily required physical demand,” she said. “More than that, there also has to be a desire to learn and adhere to the practices that make this job safer for everyone. Your crew is your team, one person could easily put the rest at risk.”
By Jim Fryer, Inside Towers Managing Editor