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Climbing Jacob's Ladder in St Helena

One of the 7 wonders of St Helena, climbing Jacob’s Ladder is spectacular.

We’ve climbed it many times, but this is the first time filming the climb to share what it is like.  Depending on how fit you are, it is either torment, or exhilarating.  Either way it is unforgettable.   Each step on Jacob’s Ladder is about 30cm (11 inches) in high, which is slightly higher that a normal steps on house stairs.  And with an incline of between 39 – 41 degrees, your legs will get a good workout.

Not to worry tho, it can be quite windy as you climb up, and it will cool you down some.  You are exposed on the side of a hill after all.  It is best to hold on and take your time if you are unsure.  It’s not windy enough to blow you off, just enough to make you stop and take in the view.  Don’t recall anyone ever falling from Jacob’s Ladder, it is quite safe to climb.  Just take your time, there is no rush.  It has been running up the side of the hill for almost 200 years.

Built in 1829 to carry cargo between Jamestown and Ladder Hill fort. Operating as a donkey-powered railway using pulleys on rails to haul goods up and down the hill.  Hauling mostly manure out of Jamestown to farms in the country, and bringing those farmed goodies back down.  Incredibly it replaced a rope ladder which soldiers would climb up and down, as it was the quickest way in and out of Jamestown.  Jacob’s Ladder St Helena, took its present form in 1871.  Due to termite damage on the railway sleepers it was dismantled by the Royal Engineers that year – leaving 700 steps.  However, one of those steps was covered over by some modern roadworks at the bottom, leaving the 699 steps you can climb today.

There is a Jacob’s Ladder Challenge, which is what you think it would be – the fastest time to climb up it.  It’s been a part of the St Helena Festival of Running since it began in 2001.  The present record was set on 21st  January 2013 by Graham Doig from Scotland, with a time of 5 minutes, 16.78 seconds.  Which is quick! Very quick.  For the video, I did it in about 15’ish minutes, I forgot to time myself.  But if I’m really honest with myself, it might be closer on to the 20 minute mark.  But I think in this situation, it’s okay to round down.

Refurbished in 2006, Jacob’s Ladder just sits there.  Tempting, calling at you.  Come climb me. And climbing Jacob’s Ladder is a must do when visiting St Helena.  As you climb, with James Bay and lower Jamestown below, it is breathtaking and wondrous.


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