Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Crazy Shit We Did, Part Two

Part One was covered back in my post entitled Saint Mary's Park Cafe...and by "We" in the title, I mean me and my friend, Kim, from my carefree youthful-adult days, with whom I tried to get in trouble on numerous occasions but only succeeded on a few.  This is a tale of one we got away with.

The Olympic Saddledome and the downtown Calgary skyline.

We're eighteen and it's the summer of '82 after high school, cruising downtown Calgary on a Saturday night.  As we're passing the construction site of the Petro Canada Towers, I notice one of the boards is missing and we can get into the area.  Did I mention I have a facsination for skyscrapers...and that the taller of these towers is to be the tallest building in Calgary?  Well shit, Earl, let's go climb ourselves a skyscraper under construction!

So under the cover of darkness we enter the site and make our way to the first stairwell we can find.  Up, up we go...twenty floors, thirty floors.  We spot some people working in one area but bypass them easily.  We reach the top of the stairwell sooner than we expect, entering an upper utility-area of steel stairs and catwalks that eventually lead to a ladder and hatch in the ceiling.  Climbing out the hatch we discover...

WE CLIMBED THE WRONG BUILDING!!  Petro Canada is twin towers, but one is shorter than the other...and there we stood with the taller of them still looming over us, some 40 floors down to the nearest level that bridges the gap.  Damnit.

Not to be thwarted, we return the next day, Sunday afternoon.  This time with friend Jim, who's even crazier than we are, and cameras to document the nefarious achievement.  It's a textbook operation, enter the site, climb the first stairwell up a level or two then cross over to the taller tower.  It's some sixty flights to the top and it takes us a good 45 minutes...mostly because my fat ass is slowing us down.  The building is nearing completion but the top five or six floors are little more than steel girders.  We climb the ladder of the crane to gain access to the highest points.  The deck that is to be the roof of the building is only poured on the central hub of the building, out to the edge it's nothing but steel.

Yeah, so out we go.  Kim and Jim are braver than I and make their way like confident ironworkers.  I pick a wider double-beam and crawl my way to the edge, where it's 750 feet down to the street.  The only time I stood up was for the photo.


We tossed a couple of paper airplanes over the edge, watching them go for several minutes before losing them in the myriad of buildings below.  Later on we threw a light bulb or two that we pilfered from the stairway.  Yeah, that was a bit crazy...but we made sure there were no cars or pedestrians below. (Being Sunday, downtown was pretty dead below us anyway.)  They landed on the roofs of the buildings across the street.

Craziest of all, Jim grabs a couple quarter-sections of tire that are being used as a safety bumber...and tosses them over the edge before either us realize what he's done.  Crazy f**ker!!  One lands on the sidewalk across the street while the other lands very loudly within the construction site on a floor of plywood.  Okay, paranoia sets in, time to leave...

Kim and Jim get several floors ahead of me on the way down but do have the courtesy to wait up at intervals.  The final exit out of the construction site requires crawling under some scaffolding, and just as we enter the crawlspace, the door of a trailer opens nearby and a man comes out and yells, "Get out of here!"  We're not sure if he thinks we're just coming in or not, but he's coming over and we're only ten feet from freedom.  Out on the street we're around the corner and easily away before he'd have a chance to crawl through that same space.  Ha ha...we did it!

Oh yeah...three weeks later, that crane fell off the building and the operator fell to his death.  Crazy shit, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Eric its Kim's big sister Penny. I had previously seen the picture but never really heard the whole story. Thanks for a chuckle on a Monday morning.