The ladder operates with a spring assisted lift that requires the ladder to be locked in the down position when in use. Apply some weight to the ladder (step on the first or second step) to release the tension and insert the hitch pin through the slot in the latch plate. This will keep the ladder locked in the down position while in use. When you are ready to store the ladder back on the dock, again, apply weight to the ladder and pull the hitch pin out with the tether. You can then raise the ladder and store it in the up position.