NEW YORK (NWN) – As I climbed the narrow metal stairs at the edge of a skyscraper, the safety harness that kept me attached to the building – about 1,300 feet up – kept clicking, as the roller-coaster headed for its first drop. Was.
Looking back on a recently fallen day, I could see New York City stretched out beneath me in the morning light. To the south, One World Trade Center appeared at eye level in the distance. To the east, the needle spire of the Empire State Building. In the West, as our guide, Anissa Barbato pointed out, even New Jersey looked good.
It was City Climb, the attraction opening Tuesday at 30 Hudson Yards, one of the tallest buildings in the city. It gives thrill-seekers a unique perspective on New York that no observation deck can hope to match: no walls, no glass windows, no railings. just the horizon.
The $185 per person experience starts with climbing groups of up to eight taken through a series of safety protocols, including a breathalyzer test. They are then dressed in bright blue full body suits meant to make sure nothing can fall from their person on the streets below.
Climbers are equipped with specially designed safety harnesses that allow them to climb an exterior staircase 1,271 feet (387 m) above 10th Avenue, from the first lookout, known as the Cliff, to the top platform called Apex .
There, they can lean over the edge and look at the Empire State Building. City Climb will operate rain, snow or shine, but will shut down if temperatures drop below 23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 degrees Celsius) or dangerous weather occurs in the area.
As I descended on our climb, my stomach tightened as the gate called “Restricted Zone” opened onto the cliff. My hands, tingling with fear of panic the night before, went numb in the cold as I walked 161 steps to the outer edge of the building’s distinctive triangular top.
I looked down at Hudson Yards Plaza and the streets next to it, where cars looked like ants.
When I arrived at Apex, the attraction’s manager, Barbato, greeted me: “We’re on top of the world.”
Then, she leaned back, arms outstretched, hanging over the city as if a cable tether kept her from falling down the streets.
“Put your heels to the side, bend your knees, and push out,” said one guide, when it was my turn.
I did as instructed. And then, it was time to stretch out my arms.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let go, but all eyes were on me. My mind went back to the time I used to bungee jumping in college about 20 years ago. I hesitated then, and always regretted it.
So, I let go. It wasn’t that bad, until I thought about the fact that about 1,300 feet down — a nine-second drop — was 30th Street and certain death.
Barbato said he hopes to have a mix of thrill-seekers and people trying to prove to themselves that they can overcome their fear of heights.
“We’ll have urban explorers looking for something really amazing to do in New York City,” Barbato said. “Then we’ll also have people who really want to prove to themselves that they can overcome not only their fears but their obstacles. It’s going to be a wonderful, life-changing experience for some people.”
Minutes later—30 or 40 seconds, actually—I grabbed the harness and pulled myself back in. I’m not afraid of heights, but I respect them: Once I was firmly back on stage, it felt like a bit of an accomplishment.