Climbing the Mackinac Bridge
I received an email from a friend (Brian) about a month ago that said “If I can get you to the top of the Mack Bridge, would you take pictures for me and would you have the nerve to climb up there?” I couldn’t respond fast enough. “Yes! and Yes!” It turns out Brian had two passes to climb the south tower of the bridge that a friend of his had won in a charity auction.
Here are the two statistics about the bridge that I was most interested in:
The length of the bridge is 5 miles. (8,038 Meters)
The height of the towers above the water are 552 feet. (168.25 Meters)
After signing our waivers and putting on our safety vests, we were driven in a Port Authority van to the south tower. A second Port Authority vehicle with flashing arrows stays behind you to keep traffic out of the right lane. You start your climb from the bridge deck, which would be a little tricky if you had to keep one eye on the cars coming toward you while you climb into the tower.
For security reasons, I wasn’t allowed to photograph inside the tower. When you first get inside, you get into an elevator. If you have even a hint of claustrophobia, you’re finished. With Brian, myself and the guide in there, you couldn’t really move. You’re shoulder to shoulder. It’s not a fast ride up but it was a neat experience. I loved it. The elevator only goes a partial distance to the top of the bridge. We learned it’s because years ago a motor burned out and the space is so small up there, they couldn’t get the dead motor down or a new one up.
Once the elevator stops, you start your climb to the top. A safe guess is that it was 30 or 40 feet. We climbed sideways through a porthole then up a steel rung ladder. I’d say the ladder was a foot wide. Every ten feet you went through another porthole. The guide instructed us to put our arms through first because your shoulders won’t fit. I think I’m in fairly good shape, but I’ll admit, it took a little strength to maneuver up there, even though I think my adrenaline was at an all time high.
Our guide carried my camera equipment around his neck like a feedbag. It made my climb up much easier being able to keep both hands on the ladder.
Once we got close to the top, our guide opened the hatch to the top of the tower. I was the second one out and then Brian. From this picture, you can get an idea of the spaces you had to climb through. This hatch was larger than the portholes inside.
More shots from the top
Thank you to Brian and Nancy for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime!