Back when I met Scope, he mentioned a radio tower out in the middle of nowhere which he thought I should check out. With a shifty grin, he told that one night he and his BASE jumper mates climbed it and flew from it in wing suits after the sun went down.
He also said the tower was big, real big. He wasn’t bullshitting.
Fast forward a day from Scope telling me about that and I was on the phone to my buddy Kermit about it, doing my best to convince him it’d be a mad climb and a sick night out. Without any fuss he eagerly agreed to join me on the venture up the many many rungs of the tower. The date we picked for it was two weeks from the day of that phone call. During those two weeks I counted down the days like a little kid before Christmas.
Waking up on that day with two weeks worth of adrenaline pumping thoughts of climbing burnt into my brain had me in an unusually energetic state for a morning. Getting out to the site involved a few hours of driving that finished with getting lost in empty, lifeless dirt roads with giant potholes everywhere for about half an hour. We knew we were close the whole time but we fucked up a turn somewhere. Kermit’s sat nav had crapped itself and the MelWays wasn’t much help out there, so only with trial and error did we find our way out and got back on track.
When we got there and started our walk towards the tower’s base, Kermit wasn’t convinced that we had come to the right place. He kept asking me if this was really the tower, because though it looked big, it didn’t look as big as he had expected. I assured him it was the one, standing mighty and tall at 432Ms. There aint a taller piece of construction in the Southern Hemisphere, yet. Although it does look big from a distance, in reality it’s still a shit tonne bigger than you think. This thing is 135Ms taller than Eureka Tower.
You’ll only begin to realise how big the bastard is during the long walk over to it. The tower just seems to go higher into the sky, get fatter and still not really get any closer the more steps you take toward it. Looks in this case, are most certainly deceiving.
Each standing platform on the tower is separated by roughly 50Ms of ladders. Neither myself or Kermit had ever climbed ladders quite like this, and it’s bloody slow and tiring compared to climbing box truss towers. I find it amusing to think that ladders may be designed for climbing, but they’re generally pretty shit for it compared to good ol’ box truss.
From the lower half of the tower you can stick your head out the side and look up but you can’t really see to the very top. This means that’s it’s bloody hard to count or judge how many platforms there are til the top. Each time we reached the next platform it seemed like there were still more of them above than we expected.
A bit over half way up, Kermit starting feeling sore in his fingers and forearms, and started to question whether or not he really wanted to keep on going. I egged him on and we took a few minutes rest at the last 4 platforms. I was tired and getting thirsty, but I did my best to sit down and just chill to regain myself, while Kermit sprawled out on the platform like he had just fallen from above and landed with a big splat. When I’d be ready for the next ladder he’d try to grab my legs or block me from the rungs, laughing his arse off and saying shit like “What? Where are ya goin’?!” or “Already?! Fuuuuuck!”
After a solid 90 mins of climbing though, we did hit the top. It felt bloody amazing to be up there, having climbed something so mammoth. Kermit and I looked down to the fields below us, which were inhabited by hundreds of black cows. When we were on the ground looking in at the tower and the cows through the electric fence, they all stopped and stared at us. Down there and up close they were kinda scary, being so massive in size and numbers. We didn’t know how they would behave when we wanted to pass them. They were more scared of us and just moved aside though. Not getting run over by angry cows is my favorite. When you’re over 400Ms up in the sky, those cows didn’t even look little ants scurrying around on the ground, they were barely visible. I thought about what it would be like to BASE jump from up here, and realised how ballsy Scope is for flying a wing suit at night into a dark field full of black cows. Holy shit, I find the idea of landing on a cow or in the middle of a bunch of em terrifying.
With no lift or stairs the only way back down without BASE jumping was of course, to get on the ladders again. The climb down was quicker, but still bloody long and from around the halfway point we had the frustrating problem of always thinking that we were closer to the bottom than we really were.
On our way back through the fields, around the massive piles of cow shit and over the electric fence Kermit proudly told me: “That, was the single scariest thing I have ever done in my life.” I was buzzing and could feel his adrenaline and sense of achievement in the way he spoke. The two of us were starving so we smashed some delicious Chinese food and green tea before getting on with our drive home, which was a pretty epic way to finish an already epic night.