I’ve now climbed the stairs in FIVE different skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles! I added the fifth to the list just the other day, when I attended a training session at the Wells Fargo Center, which reaches 55 stories above the ground.
I was training for the upcoming race at the US Bank Tower – about 5 weeks away! The Ketchum-Downtown YMCA, which organizes the US Bank Tower race, arranged for limited access to the Wells Fargo Center staircase for training purposes, and I jumped at the chance. The best way to prepare for racing up skyscraper stairwells is to practice in skyscrapers stairwells!
The US Bank Tower (75 floors), by the way, is the second skyscraper I climbed downtown – read about it here. Aon Center (63 stories) was the first – and the building I’ve been in the most, having done 3 races (watch my awesome video from the most recent here) and about 5 training sessions. The other two are Figueroa at Wilshire (54 stories), where there’s a race every fall, and 400 South Hope (26 stories), which hosted training sessions last month. I went to two, and one rocked, and the other was kinda crummy.
But I digress. The Wells Fargo Center is actually comprised of two towers, with one being 45 stories, and the other being 55. They share a plaza and a multi-story atrium building with restaurants and such. Here’s the taller tower – the one we had access to:
Here’s the kicker: I’ve actually been near the top of this building before, 25 years ago! We took a family trip to Los Angeles when I was about 9 years old, and at the time, my uncle Joe was a lawyer who worked at a law firm that had offices on the upper floors. We visited his office on floor 40-something, and while I don’t remember much, I do remember loving the view and seeing the entire city below. The specific memory I have is my uncle pointing out the LAC+USC Medical Center, because that was the hospital that was shown during the credits of “General Hospital.” I remember thinking it was so cool to see a building that’s on TV, even though I was 9 years old and didn’t know what “General Hospital” was.
But I digress. Again. Back to the training! These training sessions are well attended – probably 50 people or so – and they only let in 10 people every few minutes (so the stairwell doesn’t get too crowded), so I had to wait a little bit before I started up the stairs. When I finally got into the stairwell, I focused on good form and smart planning, which means using handrails, being efficient on landings, and double-stepping as much as I could.
I liked the stairwell in this building a lot. It was well ventilated, with a huge A/C vent blasting cold air in at exactly the halfway point. The steps had no back to them, which actually does wonders towards making the stairwell less claustrophobic.
Plus, once you get high enough, the stairwell turns into an art gallery! There are three huge murals between floors 43-48 (the floors where my uncle’s old law firm still has their offices), and they provided a nice change of scenery, as stairwells are pretty repetitive and ugly. First is a lady on a park bench:
I’m not sure if this is supposed to be someone specific. She’s reading Variety, an entertainment trade publication. I kinda thought she looked like Bette Midler, but my friend Madeleine thought Margaret Thatcher, so who knows!
Next was a very classical-looking mural of a statue with a bird:
You can’t see it in this pic, but a little bit of paint on the statue’s lips has worn off, so someone’s been practicing their kissing on this wall! Gross.
Finally, there was this gem on the 48th floor:
If being 48 floors up wasn’t dizzying enough, how about looking at that every time you take the stairs!
I got to the 55th floor in just under 15 minutes. Sweaty selfie time!
I got a good rest in between my first and second ascends, because I had to wait in line before getting back in the stairwell. I made it to the top during my second climb in nearly the same amount of time – just under 15 minutes, and when I got off the elevator after that climb, the line was no more. Most of the others had called it a day, so they told me I could head back in right then, if I wanted. I took them up on that offer.
My third climb started strong, but I got exhausted, quickly, thanks to the lack of rest. I pushed through and made it to the top in about 17 and a half minutes, and that made me really happy. All told, I spent over an hour at the Wells Fargo Center, and was on the stairs for a combined total of about 47.5 minutes. My heart rate was in the high 160s every time I checked (about 6 times total), and my heart rate monitor told me I burned 1,400 calories!
I spent a few minutes stretching on the plaza before heading to the train station. Leg extension!
Training sessions will continue at the Wells Fargo Center, so I’ll be back to climb more stairs and get ready for my upcoming races. Looking forward to it!
Keep it up, David!