Tuesday was a unique treat. I got a chance to go downtown to do a survey climb up the U.S. Bank Tower staircase. I’ve done this now for the Aon Center stairs, as well as the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. And both of those times, I found that the published step counts they quoted for promoting the stair climbs were wrong. So this was a chance to see if the 1,500 step count for this building was right. I suspected from the start that it was not.
A few months ago, I’d emailed the organizers of the Stair Climb for Los Angeles at the downtown YMCA to see if this trip could be arranged, and they came through. I was to be at the building at 10:00 on Tuesday morning, where I would meet Whitney from the YMCA and we would climb the building and take in the stairs.
We got checked in and got little adhesive visitor name tags to wear. The guard asked us if we wanted to take the elevator up to the top and walk down to count the stairs. We just looked at him like he was crazy. I walked down a 42-story building once and swore never to do it again. So we went outside and he opened up the door next to the sidewalk and we started up from there.
It turns out that this staircase is much more consistent than I’d remembered from the races I’ve done before. Most of the building was two flights per floor, 11 steps per flight, with right-hand turns. This pattern covered something like 47 of the 73 floors.
There was no 13th floor.
Oddly enough, 2 was missing, also. When we started up from the lobby level, the first floor number we saw was 3. And at 5, it settled into the regular 11/11 pattern all the way up to 46. Then there was one weird floor, and it was back to 11/11 until 58. At that point, there was the only fire door we encountered, and it switched to left-hand turns for a short while. Then it was back to the same pattern up to the last office floor on 71. The floors were numbered up to 74, and then there was just a short two flights up to the roof door.
By about the 50th floor, my shirt was totally soaked with sweat, and my adhesive visitor tag fell off. So I picked it up and stuck it to my notepad.
When we got to the landing by the roof door, the intercom box squawked at us and asked if we were ready to come down. This was a bit creepy until we saw the video camera on the opposite wall. They were watching, and they’d seen us on the monitor. So they said the guard would meet us at 71 and we could ride down with him.
On the train home, I added up the steps. I got 1,679 as the final tally. And that night, I made up a chart of the stairway. Now I know how to attack it to climb it in the most efficient and balanced way possible. And that’s a good thing. Not only will I avoid wasting steps along the way, remembering the stepping patterns is a good distraction to avoid the “OMG! What the hell was I thinking signing up for this again!” that I always get around the 45th floor.
So now we’re ready to race.
The stair charts I’ve made are all here: http://www.1134.org/stan/Stairs