Hawaii's Perilous Stairway to Heaven

Analyzing the top news stories across the web
July 29 2014 2:25 PM

Hawaii's Perilous Stairway to Heaven

Haiku
The second landing with Kaneohe in the background. The first half of the stairs is the hardest. I was almost dead when I got to the first landing (halfway), but I don't think I even stopped at the second landing.

Photo courtesy Brock Roseberry/Flickr Creative Commons

This story originally appeared in Business Insider.

The Haiku Stairs—also known as “The Stairway To Heaven”—is one of the most extreme and beautiful hikes Hawaii (and America) has to offer.

Advertisement

For the last 26 years, the hike up the 4,000-step ladder has also been illegal, but that hasn't stopped people—dozens a day—from making the trek up and down the steel steps that were once operated by the Coast Guard to catch a glimpse of the view at the top of Puu Keahi a Kahoe on the island of Oahu.

The step ladder was built in 1943 during World War II to “provide access to buildings at the top of the ridge, used as transmission stations,” according to a tourism site called Best Places Hawaii. 

stairs2

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

The ladder scales “nearly vertical” heights over 2,500 feet from Haiku Valley to the top of Puu Keahi a Kahoe, so high that there are points in the hike where the peaks rise above clouds.

stairs3

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

It was a popular hiking trail in the 1980s, operated by the coast guard, until 1987 when it was deemed too dangerous for the public.

Despite making the hike illegal, tourists (and some locals) attempt to scale the Stairway To Heaven everyday. 

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply, the Huffington Post reports, “has jurisdiction over the hike and requires that anyone who goes up it sign waivers and present a $1 million liability insurance policy.”

They were dying to see the view, and weren’t discouraged by heights or the illegality of the hike.

The team left for the stairs at 2:15am, in hopes of catching a sunrise. Finding the stairs in the dark proved to be a challenge, but everyone had a headlight on.

stairs6

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

When they reached the summit around 4am, it was foggy. And the fun part of the hike was underway.

stairs7

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

Parts of the ladder are extremely steep. Just watching the video makes your hands sweat. Those afraid of heights, beware.

stairs8

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

Some parts of the hike require you to climb down the ladder backwards.

stairs9

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

The views seem to be worth it.

There are a few platforms along the way, allowing hikers to take a break and take in the sights.

stairs11

Haiku Stairs/Vimeo

According to travel site ToHawaii, a guard had been posted at the base of the stairs in December of 2013, but “the guard frequently had not been there in the early months of 2014 and a small tent which had been erected for the guard to use had been dismantled in early February, 2014.”

stairs12

Vimeo

In early 2013, a group formed to petition the city to reopen the stairs to the public, but the stairs still remain closed.

Caroline Moss is a tech reporter for Business Insider. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
History
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Education
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?