Why I Climb for WWF: From jeans and dress shoes to a backpack full of soup

Written by Bradley A. Powell, Climb Veteran 
The first time I climbed the CN Tower in support of WWF-Canada I had no idea what I signed up for. I hadn’t trained and I wore jeans, a nice shirt, and dress shoes – I was meeting a friend for brunch afterwards. The brunch never happened. I was so exhausted from climbing the 1,776 steps that I took a nap for the rest of the day.
Fast forward to this year and I’m racing up the stairs of my condo with a backpack full of soup cans to get ready for the big day. This will be my ninth year doing the climb. Last year my time was 14 minutes flat, my personal best. In an effort to get faster each year, I started to train in the stairwell of my condo building which is 50 storeys tall. I climb to the top and take the elevator down, then repeat that two more times. To really challenge myself, I started adding weight to the backpack I carry.

© Bradley A. Powell
© Bradley A. Powell

In addition to enjoying the physical challenge of the CN Tower climb, I keep climbing each year because I strongly believe in what WWF-Canada does. Protecting the environment and all of the creatures in it is something we must all take steps towards doing.
© Bradley A. Powell
© Bradley A. Powell

It’s amazing to reflect on all the years of climbing in support of WWF-Canada. Some years were slower and some were faster. Every year was a fantastic experience. I am truly grateful to all of my friends, family, and colleagues who have supported me and made donations over the years. In total, I’ve been able to raise almost $20,000! It just goes to show how much of an impact a few steps can be – well, maybe more than a few steps.
© Bradley A. Powell
© Bradley A. Powell

To everyone climbing this year, good luck and see you at the top!
Things I’ve learned over the years:

  • Wear comfortable clothing. Shorts, a t-shirt, and running shoes are best. The stairwell is a bit cool at first but you will get warmer as you climb.
  • Get a good night’s rest. If you’re at a house party the night before and you only get 30 minutes of sleep… You will be slow. Trust me.
  • There is a washroom just before you start climbing.
  • Be aware of other climbers around you. While the stairs are wide enough to accommodate two people side by side, everyone will climb at a different pace. Faster climbers: be courteous when passing; notify the climber ahead of you. Slower climbers: stay to one side to allow others to pass.
  • The number of flights you have climbed is labeled at each landing. There are 144 flights in total. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s 124 like I did one year.
  • Remember the handrail. The last 10 flights… I’m pretty much dragging myself up.
  • Once you’re done… you’re not really done. After you reach the official top of the climb and get your timecard punched, there are still a few more flights of stairs to actually get inside the observation deck. Prepare for this moment, it will haunt you.
  • Have fun and sign up again next year!