View Full Version : Climbing a Lighthouse?

09-04-2009, 11:26 AM
It would help a lot in my story if this were possible. But is it?

My character is near an abandoned lighthouse. It is a windy day. Never mind why (it doesn't matter for this discussion) he climbs up the side of the lighthouse--not all the way mind you, but twenty feet or so. Then he climbs back down. He is young, strong, agile. This doesn't take long for him to do.

That is the scenario. At first I kinda balked at the idea, because of the common image (http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=836) one has of these structures--smooth rounded towers that taper upwards. But then I googled a bit and found pics of quite different designs. Some were square (http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=26), for example, and others were octagonal. Rather that a tapering rise, I saw some with levels (http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblighthouses/milerocksBefore.JPG) not unlike a step pyramid. Irregular brickwork instead of smooth walls (like that of Big Sur (http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=88)). Others might even have a kind of middle balcony (http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=25) halfway up.

So in my mind, this lighthouse is at the water's edge, upon an outcrop of rock jutting out from several very narrow hills/cliffs (one of these currently is the site of a modern automated lamp serving the same function). The ten foot high base is square. Upon that rises a four-sided tower that tapers slightly upward for twenty-five feet. All of this is brick, which has eroded in irregular patterns. More, there are protruding windows (about one foot wide and five feet tall) on each side of the tower section. Atop all that is the twelve-foot-high light housing.

Does this sound like a structure a strong, agile 22-year old man could scale without too much difficulty? I'm thinking he's almost certainly done this before.

Thanks in advance.

09-04-2009, 01:33 PM
It's nothing I would personally attempt, but then again I am not a fit 20 somehting man, but a slightly (un) fit 40 something female ! I have though climbed the inside of numerous lighthouses in various parts of Britain. You could make it a lighthouse with a spiral staircase around the outside, which many of them do have, to make it easier and more realistic ....

Stijn Hommes
09-04-2009, 01:43 PM
If they've done it before, it's certainly possible. I've seen people climb buildings with less hand and foot grips. Just make sure the reader knows what the place looks like. Is he going to free-climb or is he going to use appropriate safety gear?

09-04-2009, 04:38 PM
I like the idea that he might use inappropriate safety gear. All manner of images are coming to my mind.

09-04-2009, 07:13 PM
No, he just climbs sans any gear. That is important for the plot. Just as it is important he actually climb the building, not walk up any steps.

09-05-2009, 12:52 AM
I could see it with a rope and grappling hook. Otherwise you'll need to qualify how he does it. If the tower were made from stacked stone, possibly.

09-05-2009, 01:33 AM
ROugh hewn blocks, or irregular masonry should do the trick.

I had a good friend, who at the age of twenty two decided to climb the brick pilings of a bridge. Mind you, nothing but the mortor joints you see on any brick house. He made it about thirty feet up, then fell. Serious injuries insued.

So yeah - a twenty something who is agile, done a bit of free-climbing - and still thinks he's immortal would DEFINITELY look at a structure like that as an enticing climb.

09-05-2009, 01:43 AM
The guy they call spiderman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Robert) would do it. There are a few lighthouses that I can see this as a possibility. This one's in France:
http://flann4.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/lighthouse-storm.jpg (http://flann4.filed.wordpress.com/2008/05/lighthouse-storm.jpg)

This one's on Prince Edward Island: (http://photos.igougo.com/images/p129991-Prince_Edward_Island-P.E.I._Lighthouses.jpg)

or maybe this one in the UK. (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.enation.co.uk/fwd.web/lighthouse2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.enation.co.uk/fleetwoodlighthouses.htm&usg=__RTQVll6n50Xo9Kuh35bLjyoIaco=&h=455&w=300&sz=28&hl=en&start=244&sig2=7rqY603Oj1EDqGKdjJPX0Q&um=1&tbnid=y25gA8QYHgJwdM:&tbnh=128&tbnw=84&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlighthouses%26ndsp%3D18%26hl%3Den%26r ls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26sa%3DN%26start%3D234%26um%3D1&ei=6YmhSraLK8OGmQfZ6OSJDg)

09-05-2009, 02:43 AM
Alain Robert immediately came to mind. There is footage of him hanging from the ceiling of his bedroom by his fingertips, so climbing a lighthouse wouldn't be a problem.

09-05-2009, 05:27 AM
Definitely possible...a group of us were staggering home very drunk from a French Quarter bar after the Superbowl, and next thing I knew my then-boyfriend had shimmied up a lamp post, over a wrought-iron railing and onto the second-floor balcony of some apartment building. Took him under a minute, and he was drunk at the time.