Tonight was the “Kickoff Party” at the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. This was an event to try and drum up interest for the stair climb at the end of March. And for the occasion, they opened the stairwell door on the ground outside the building, so we could practice doing almost the entire climb. The normal practice sessions rn from 4 to 60, but tonight we could go from ground level up to 60. They were also keeping the stairs open an hour longer than normal tonight.
I rode the train downtown after work. My plan was to do the climb once for speed, to practice my footwork for changing which leg was leading every other floor to even out the loads on them. After that, I planned on going up a couple more times to take pictures, kibitz and just play tourist.
My first time up was a pretty good run. My time was 10:49. I had a look at my watch when I was passing the place where we start the normal practice runs, and it was at 42 seconds at that point, so this was about the equivalent of doing the regular practice course in 10:07. Not my fastest time, but still a good solid pace.
After a few minutes recovery, i went back down. The second time I just walked up to the 4th floor to check the count of steps there. This time, I came out with 80. So I walked back down and counted it again. It was 80 every time, so that means I must have made a mistake when I counted them the other day. It also means that the full count is 1,378 steps from the ground up to the landing at the door to the roof. So I think this is where the published count of 1,377 came from. They probably sent somebody up to count the steps, and when he got to the door that said “ROOF” he figured that was the end of it and stopped, without counting the last flight up on the outside of the door.
I started up the stairs for the second time. I walked up with Mary, and I took some pictures along the way. I particularly wanted to get some pictures from the top of the middle section of the stairs, which is about floor 42. The stairway shaft is wider in that section, and it’s possible to look up and down about 260 vertical feet in the shaft. I thought this might make for some dramatic pictures. I got one dramatic shot of Mary by bracing the camera on the railing and using a long exposure. I’d heard that they might get Norman to come take pictures, so I think that the landing around 42 would be a good place for him to set up. His pictures at the CFF climb last December were great.
Near the top, I heard a loud panting sound coming up behind me. I know I’m pretty loud when I’m going full speed, and Jeff is pretty loud, too. But this time it was Madeline. She was really going, and she told me later that she’d set a new personal best tonight.
I went back down again. I was waiting for Kathleen to get there, since I’d told her I’d walk up with her once. But it was cold just standing around, so I decided to go up again just to keep warm. This time, I got to 42 and I could hear someone coming up. This time it was Veronica, and she was on her third of five times up the stairs. But she was still moving very fast. And both of those pictures looking down the stairway shaft give a sense of just how endless the stairs seem when we’re climbing them.
When I got back down, I was still waiting for Kathleen. I thought she was stuck in traffic somewhere. But then I saw her coming down the escalator. She had gotten there while I was walking up the third time, and she just started up the stairs. She said that she didn’t think I’d have my phone with me, so she didn’t try to call to tell me she was there. Oh well. We still got to visit with everyone, and afterward we went to have a little dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s, which is inside the U.S. Bank Tower, just a couple blocks away.
It was a fun evening. And climbing the tower three times wasn’t hard at all. The trick was to just take it easy and just play tourist the second and third times. I was climbing it in something like 20 minutes, even with stopping to make notes and take pictures. And it was good practice, since I was still able to practice my footwork and turns.