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Stairway to Heaven | Climbing Ha'iku Stairs

Posted on June 07 2017

Hawaii’s notorious Haiku Stairs, (AKA “Stairway to Heaven”) has been on our bucket-list for ages, so when the opportunity to climb the 2000ft-plus hike arose for our design team during a recent trip to Honolulu, they jumped at it.

Now the hike isn’t exactly legal any more and plenty of people have been busted for trying to sneak past the guards stationed at the bottom of the stairs, but that’s all part of the adventure.

The team, including LKI founder Jason and designers Jess and Dylan, rolled out of bed for a 4.30am start in order to outsmart the guards and tackle the Stairway to Heaven.

“We were trying to find our way through the jungle with head-torches and got a bit lost at the start,” laughs Jess. “We were freaking out that we wouldn’t be able to get up there, but eventually we found the bottom of the stairs.”

The climb is brutal from the get-go, with the near-vertical ascent wreaking havoc on the legs.

“The old glutes were burning a bit after the first five minutes, that’s for sure,” says Dylan. “You’re basically climbing a ladder for a couple of hours, with a few platforms for resting in between. It’s pretty gnarly.”

Adding to the danger was the weather, which closed in as they neared the top. Surrounded by thick cloud, lashing rain and howling wind as they negotiated the super-steep, exposed ridge, the team was glad to reach the old radio transmitter tower at the top for shelter and a breather.

But they were only halfway done – they still had to descend, which turned out to be harder than going up.

“When you’re climbing you’re just looking in front of you and not really thinking about it too much, but when you’re descending you’re looking out and realise just how steep it is,” says Jason. “If you made a mistake at the wrong point you’d be screwed, and yeah, if you’re a bit scared of heights it’s definitely not something you want to try.”

“My legs were shaking afterwards,” adds Jess. “You don’t think it’d be that hard, but it was really hard. There’re vertical sections, and one section of the stairs was broken from a landslide. I can see why it’s illegal – you could fall and die at any moment.”

Still, completing the epic climb was a bucket-list thing for every team member.

“I first discovered it a couple of years ago when my girlfriend was keen to do it and I first saw photos of it,” explains Dylan. “When the opportunity came up, we jumped at it. Pics don’t do it justice – it’s such a gnarly climb and not many people get to do it, so I’m stoked to be able to tick that one off the bucket-list.”

Stay tuned for a video of our epic hike up Stairway to Heaven dropping very soon...

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