unusual buildering


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Trad climber
May 13, 2013 - 09:34am PT
BITD, I used to do a ton of building in the San Diego area. The known and developed climbing areas weren't quite as extensive as they are now, and my friends and I would look for anything to climb. This included splitter off-hand 10d / 11a cracks in the San Diego State University parking garage, the Bank of America building in Poway, some funky cement pours here and there around SD, etc.

The weird thing is, I'm still constantly scoping out buildering possibilities, even here in Seattle. There are some splitter 5.6ish cracks supporting the Alaska Way Viaduct, for instance.

My son has, through the years, said to me with regularity, "Dad, please get down!" as he looks around to see who's watching. I think that maybe climbers take longer to grow up than other people. Just a theory.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
May 13, 2013 - 10:12am PT
Don't miss this previous thread: it focuses on Alex Hartley's book, L.A. Climbs both a serious guide and repurposing of buildings in Los Angeles and a bit of an acerbic satire. Great book.


Social climber
May 13, 2013 - 10:21am PT
I used to spend a fair bit of time on the Volunteer Park water tower in Seattle. The full traverse is pretty pumper.

I would advise not going shirtless like this lad unless you want to attract a certain kind of attention:

(MP picture)

Trad climber
the tip of god's middle finger
May 13, 2013 - 10:30am PT
my 5.9 challenge:

surmount all of the 2nd story balconies on main street, placerville.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 13, 2013 - 11:24am PT
I was traversing a big stone building in St Petersburg, Russia once, and drew the attention of machinegun toting police.

BITD, as in CCCP, all I had to do was walk up to the front door of the
Communist Party Headquarters and start to take a picture of its beautiful
doors and the copper standing at the identical set of doors 50 meters away
came hauling azz down the sidewalk screaming,


Dude, they're just some doors! I'm glad I didn't try climbing on it.
Then I saw the unmarked car with the KGB goons in it. It was 0530.
Don Paul

Social climber
Denver CO
May 21, 2018 - 12:40pm PT
I'm right across the street from this, and doubt it's been climbed. Unfortunately, it's right next to the prosecutor's offices.

Edificio Teleantioquia, Medellín
Edificio Teleantioquia, Medellín
Credit: Don Paul
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
May 21, 2018 - 01:36pm PT
Credit: jeff constine
Peter Hayes at UCLA 80's

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
May 21, 2018 - 03:53pm PT
Speaking of climbing buildings in Russia and hijinks in St. Petersburg:
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 21, 2018 - 08:21pm PT
I've done that crack at UCLA. It's on the Ackerman building. Did it around the same time too: mid 80s and the late 80s for grad school. It was hard but I don't remember it being anywhere near .12, though it felt pretty sketch as you got near the top. One guy I climbed with who also went there, Lawrence Yee, thought it was .10a. That's a total sandbag rating but he was solid. A true rating lies somewhere in between.

Trad climber
May 21, 2018 - 09:28pm PT
That thin seam on the sea wall by the ramps at Ocean Beach. Never could get up that sucker.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
May 21, 2018 - 09:44pm PT
Doug Drewes transitioning out of the double kneebars and onto the rail on "Student Center South By The Column". Cutting your feet and going from that edge to the top in one fluid movement was always exciting. Circa 1975 or 76.


A pile of dirt.
May 21, 2018 - 10:37pm PT
I think this qualifies, right?

Credit: kev

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
May 22, 2018 - 01:19pm PT
These are good for a dust-off every few years or so (I posted these here at some point before). I didn't figure out how to climb with ropes until a few years after this.

1. Muir dorms @ UCSD. Freshman year I lived on the 6th floor. I used to routinely climb out my dorm window and go up/down/sideways as needed to climb into other people's rooms when they locked their keys in. I think I only climbed from the ground up each floor's balcony a few times.

Muir dorms @ UCSD, 1992
Muir dorms @ UCSD, 1992
Credit: NutAgain!

2. The only time I was ever handcuffed and in the back of a police car was on the same night as the following pic... but not for climbing! This was the T-crane used to assemble the biology building at Revelle campus. What you can't see directly below me through the murky depths, is the forest of re-bar sticking straight up out of the cement at least a hundred feet below. Relatively early in the night, we climbed the T-crane, out the arm, and then I slithered down the greasy wire to hang out on the ball. Getting back up was harder than getting down :)

T-crane over Revelle biology building, 1992
T-crane over Revelle biology building, 1992
Credit: NutAgain!

Later that night, we discovered an entrance to the service tunnels below the campus. We had long heard rumors of old military tunnels that you could drive a jeep through, and on top of that, tunnels used for riot control since the university had been built in the 1960s and by then they knew what they needed to fight against student uprisings. We entered via a manhole at "the hump" between Muir and Revelle colleges. Right next to that entrance, is a gloomy concrete room that can be used as a staging area for troops, to rise into the middle of a crowd of protesters in that plaza. And from there, a network of service tunnels connected each of the major buildings all over campus. We spent several hours exploring, which occasionally involved lifting floor-grates to squeeze through drainage channels in the floor below locked metal doors, and occasionally squeezing through metal doors with no handles but chains securing them mostly shut. At some point I had squeezed through a door that nobody else could, and just at that moment the police opened a manhole directly above our posse (who all were just on the other side of a door from me). They all took off running in the opposite direction, and I held my breath and froze. I could hear the muted but labored breathing of the officer on the other side of the door, as he stood quietly listening. A long while passed, with neither of us making an intentional sound.

Eventually, he had a radio exchange with his crew, at which point it became clear our gang was screwed. They had been tracking our movements via silent alarms we tripped every time we crossed a door threshold. After a bit, the officer moved on and I went running in the opposite direction, away from my posse and into the unknown and unexplored. I didn't get more than a few hundred meters in a narrow tunnel with no branching sides or places to hide, and from afar I saw a police officer coming toward me. I turned tail and ran back the way I had come, and lo I discovered that I was boxed in. It was a pretty awkward "aww shucks" moment as I slowed to a walk, waved at the officer before being cuffed and taken into custody.

Next, the interrogation began: "Who was the person with you?"

Me: "Uh, I don't know."

I was somewhat relieved because it was at least 5 people, and I knew them all well. One of them especially would have been embarrassed to get arrested, because he was the Student President of Muir College or something like that.

I figured I could play dumb for a while, but I was also pretty afraid of having a criminal record. I had been handcufffed, but they had not actually placed me under arrest and read my Miranda Rights. So I was trying to thread the needle of being sufficiently compliant that they didn't blot my future. More questions, which I dodged for a while.

The radio exchanges meanwhile started to make clear that the entire gang was going to get busted. They continued to see the door alarms going off, and were converging on the spot where the gang had to exit. At this point, I started contemplating the consequences of giving a false statement to the police when the rest of the gang was caught and my story wouldn't hold. My will softened, and the interrogation continued.

My major mistake: "I think his name is Kevin" in response to another round of questioning about the names. "and I think he goes to Muir College." I thought that was vague enough for me to be perceived as compliant (I wasn't officially arrested yet), but not enough to bust one of my buddies. But why the heck didn't I make up some name? I guess because I was pretty young and had lived a sheltered life of compliance to authority. I was raised by a single mom, and challenging her authority usually had severe and immediate consequences.

So anyway, I had given up "Kevin from Muir College" because I knew for certain that the gang was going to get caught at the exit man-hole. Damnit! Why couldn't I have stalled for another couple of minutes? Over the radio crackle I heard the consternation that the gang had gotten away! The cops found the manhole open and nobody around. I heard later that all my buddies were running like bats out of hell, and when they reached our entry point, they flew up the ladder and the first guy flung the heavy cover aside like a mother lifting a car off her injured baby.

So picture it: I had made a calculated leak of information trying to save my hide for when the rest of the gang got caught, to make sure my story held together. But they all got away! So I'm still in custody, it's somewhere between 3am and 5am, and the police are now searching for "Kevin" from "Muir Dorms" with me in tow. We take a ride in a Crown Vic. I admire how heavy and solid the doors seem as they open and close. I am taken aback at how quickly they identify all the Kevins in Muir College, and first stop they have me marching to his dorm room. Knock knock.

My buddy Kevin opens the door, in a damn good imitation of a person who had been dead asleep and was now confused by police at the door.

Voice of authority: "Are you Kevin ?"

"Yes...." wiping eyes to shake out the apparent sleepiness and confusion.

"Have you been here all night?"


And from behind him, the whiny accusing punkass voice of his roommate:
"No you haven't, you just came back a few minutes ago all out of breath."

How can I complain about his punkass whiny roommate though when I am the rat who outed my friend? Damn, that is one of the things I regret the most out of my entire 4 years at UCSD. I don't remember the details of what happened after that, but neither of us were actually arrested or charged with anything. And the rest of the gang eluded capture or consequences.

But, in relation to other hijinks that year, for which Kevin and I and a few others were involved in some campus dorms student governing board disciplinary actions (which may or may not have involved alleged coffee in shower heads, wedging pennies in door frames to trap our friends (which is apparently a fire/safety issue), removal of dividers in the girls' dorm bathroom stalls, golfing of fruit objects, unauthorized banner signage displayed across the outside of our dorm buildings, and so on)... well when all was said and done, my buddy Kevin ran afoul of some 3 strikes type of clause and was not permitted to live on campus for the second year.

But the buildering was fun, riding the crane ball was exhilarating, and overall times were good.

Big Wall climber
Bitter end of a bad anchor
May 22, 2018 - 04:52pm PT
Bellingham sound wall
Bellingham sound wall
Credit: RURP_Belay
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 22, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
Nut's pictures reminded me that a couple of times I climbed out onto the ledge of my dorm at UCLA, Dystrka Hall, when some jokers had barred access out the front door. The door knobs were arranged where you could "chair" somebody's door: putting a chair over the knob which prevented the door from opening inward. Not problem. Fairly wide ledge, but the sketchy part was going around the pillars that divided the windows. 9 stories up too (don't tell my mom). Completely freaked out the girls in the room next door the first time I did it, though I could never figure out how they slept through the ruckus.
Don Paul

Social climber
Denver CO
May 23, 2018 - 04:09am PT
I also learned climbing on the buildings in college, at Virginia Tech, summited the coliseum and went "steam tunneling" in th bowels of the school. A great environment for doing anything that sounded crazy lol.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
May 23, 2018 - 07:20am PT

Don Paul- I'm right across the street from this, and doubt it's been climbed. Unfortunately, it's right next to the prosecutor's offices.

That's how I discovered where the Davis Police Station was located! There was a bolted route on the outside of the UCDavis rec hall. The officer saw us from his desk.

Trad climber
Chico, CA
May 25, 2018 - 07:17pm PT
Cupertino Train Tunnel
Cupertino Train Tunnel
Credit: dcaunt
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