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SES volunteers scale Eureka Tower

Published 03/12/2013

This year Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) sponsored a team to take part in the annual Eureka Climb.

Eureka Tower has the highest viewing platform in the southern hemisphere and is the host of the climb, which is a charity fundraising event wherein participants are sponsored to climb the building’s 1,642 steps.

While the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) is a regular participant, with firefighters climbing with 23 kilograms of turnout gear, this is the first year SES has taken part. SES Eureka Climbers

This year’s event raised $228,178 through 2,416 people taking part.

Amongst them were 15 SES volunteers, 13 from Footscray Unit and one each from Warrnambool and Waverley Units. They were Faye Bendrups, Adam Wakeling, Adrian Cheok, Adam Borthwick (Warrnambool), Andrew Martin, Sathie Shanmuganathan, Jye Tully, Peter Botros, Jason Qin, Joe Frisby, Brendan Corcoran (Waverley), Anthony Radl, Paul Peng, Lachlan Stott, and Andrew Quick. The team finished the climb with ease and immediately started planning for a bigger challenge in 2014.

SES volunteer Lachlan Stott said that, once the call for volunteers to climb the 88 floors of Eureka Tower had gone out, he was surprised at how many of his fellow Footscray members put their hand up.

“We did three training sessions at an office block in the city that just happened to be 44 stories, so one full lap, catch the elevator down, and do another lap,” he said.

“We should really have sent an apology letter and maybe some flowers to the tenants on the top floor, because we really did create a few sweat puddles on their lovely lobby floor.”

On the day of the event, the SES team entered in the “climbers” category rather than “runners”, meaning they didn’t have to worry about time-keeping or competition.

“It was about completing the climb, not racing each other to the top,” Mr Stott said.

“The stairwell is surprisingly narrow given how many people may have to use it one day, barely enough for two people across, so if you wanted to pass someone it was easiest to wait until you reached a landing and then ask to scoot in front.

“After about the first twenty levels, you'd see a couple of people every couple of floors stopping and having a rest, though none in orange, we all powered through! Most members were surprised at how quickly they actually managed it, in between fifteen and twenty minutes, which compared to the fastest time for a runner of 7:39, it makes you think - what's the point in running if it's only twice as quick as walking at a comfortable (though sweaty) pace?

“The view at the top was amazing, though most members didn't really notice for the first few minutes upon reaching the Skydeck, mainly because they were focusing on getting some water and catching their breath.  There was much revelry both at the top and at our leisurely breakfast that we organised at a cafe around the corner afterwards, and with a fair few high fives and photos taken it didn't take long for the stories to come out about how everyone completed it, and how we'd be even better again next year.”

Planning is already underway for another attempt in twelve months. Given the number of CFA and MFB climbers and runners there, the SES team is looking to increase the presence of orange on the day in 2014.

“A big thanks to Judith and Charis at SES Victorian Headquarters for all their help, and of course to all the volunteers who once again, gave up their free time to participate in an event to raise money for charity. Great work everyone!” Said Mr Stott.