Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Climbing for the Cause

  I've been meaning to write about this for a while. On Saturday April 21st Sandy and I headed into downtown Toronto to meet a challenge: climb the CN Tower. The climb is an annual Spring event on behalf of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada and attracts thousands of people of every walk of life.

  We arrived shortly after 8:00am and joined the line outside. It was a windy, chilly morning but everyone was in good spirits. After about ten minutes of shivering our asses off we were told that since we had already pre-registered we were in the wrong line-up. Awesome. We did a short sprint around the building and up a big flight of stairs until we reached the enclosed walkway to the main area. Down another flight of stairs and we were there...

  The main area was in a big long building filled with tables of volunteer staff checking off names and issuing wristbands...

  After signing in we changed into our shorts and T-shirts then went to check-in our coats and bags...

  We knew we wouldn't be able to bring our phones and camera along with us during the climb so we elected to leave them at home. The photos in this post are from WWF's website (unless otherwise noted).  All rights reserved by WWF Canada, I claim no ownership of these pictures.

  Excitement filled the air as we made our way over to the tower, you could feel the energy and anticipation. Groups of girls sang and chanted along the way, loud music pumped from speakers everywhere filling every walkway and corridor. It brought back memories of the two climbs I made here as a teen. Most of the crowd were still in their teens to late twenties, but every age group was represented. Fathers and sons, the fit and not-so-fit...people of every background you could think of were here with one common goal: to make it to the top.

  Within a short time we were at the base ready to start, and were lead through a doorway into a concrete stairwell. There was no music or hype, but a few encouraging words from staff as we set foot on the metal stairway and began to climb. One flight. Then another. Then another. Then, well...imagine climbing a 144 storey building in about half an hour. I took my focus off the floor numbers on the wall and we all just kept at it...

  Some people try to beat a personal best, a few try to break the fastest record to the top (7 minutes 52 seconds). We decided to take our time and paused periodically between flights of stairs. Each landing was decorated with colourful signs hand-painted by grade school children, with slogans about saving the animals and the environment. Some had messages urging us on, "Come on you can do it", and "You're almost there!" They made me smile and really were encouraging to people...

  Also along the way about every seven floors were trained paramedics. I didn't see anyone who needed help but it was great to see them there as I'm sure a few people needed them. Sandy told a couple of them that she wanted to kill me, because as we got closer to the top I kept jumping up and down like her personal cheerleader coaxing her on when she stopped. Annoying? Probably. But it seemed to help, and if nothing else I amused myself. I seem to do that a lot.

a climber passes the 142nd floor

  And so, after just over 38 minutes we reached the top (we could have done it in 37-something but before we were time stamped I stopped to ask questions about when the event would be posted on-line). We were met by smiles and "Way to go"s as we hit the mark...

reaching the top

   But the celebration had to be put on hold since we still had another six floors to climb before reaching the main observation level. This is where the energy returned; everyone we passed was clapping and congratulating all of us as we made our way into the crowd, and I mean CROWD. The place was packed with climbers waiting to make the return trip. After twenty minutes or so we were on a glass elevator, my ears popping from the pressure as we sped towards earth. I've loved that ride since I was a kid!

  Once on the ground we took the walkway back and passed by tables where volunteers let us each pick out a stuffed animal...



  ...then back to the main area where staff gave us T-shirts and wrote our climb times on them...

 The event was really well organized considering the colossal effort it took to put it together, and the staff were just amazing. It was a fun way to spend the morning and we topped the day off by attending a birthday party with friends.

  Sandy and I raised $250 between us, and we plan to raise a lot more in October when we do this again for the United Way. The goal we've set for that climb is 25 minutes or less.

The following summer we'll be getting some friends together do this. I'll definitely be posting after we do...


  1. Climb looks so cool. I'm so proud of you and Sandy for making it up all the way. I know i couldn't. Looks like everyone had a blast...Of course u look like a total dork in your picture. Sandy look good for a 1000 stair climb!

    As for the edge walk I soooo wanna do that with u guys!!!! I was under the impression that u walked around the whole edge. Funny thing is i'm afraid of heights, my palms were sweating just watching the video. Also, this odd thing happens to me when i'm looking at heights, the bottom of my feet hurt and they were definitely hurting watching this.

  2. It was an amazing day. Actually the climb was closer to 1800 steps (1776). As far as the Edge Walk, you do walk all the way around but you're not hanging off the edge the whole time.

    Over the years I've had two nightmares that I was on the roof of the CN Tower without anything to keep me from falling over. Scared the crap out of me. So when I saw they actually built this I figured it would be a great way to conquer that fear.

  3. CONGRATULATIONS!! I was thinking the same thing Leila said, that Sandy looked good after all that and, of course, you're making a silly face! I don't know about that Edge Walk. I don't think I would do it. In fact, I didn't even watch the video because it's frozen on a guy hanging off the edge and that alone freaks me out.

  4. I'm so coming to Canada just to do this!

    Did they have stuffed Kiwis? Lol, it would be a bit redundant to go all the way to Canada just to get a kiwi. Did they have stuffed moose? :3

    Congratulations to you both! You two are amazing!

  5. lovely endeavour barry. i hope you had a wonderful time. x

  6. Wow! What a great thing to do! :) Yeah to you and Sandy. And I had to chuckle at some of the photos. hahaha I can't believe peeps let you grab shots of them. hahahaha kidding. Hugs