We recently took a look at the plans to install new ladders near to the summit of Everest to ease congestion around the peak, where climbers can only tackle the last stage (the Hillary Step) one at a time. These ladders, if they are put in place, will be the highest ladders in the world, as they will be on the highest peak in the world. There are reports of other high up ladders, especially in mountainous regions of China where schoolchildren climb up rickety wooden ladders on sheer cliff faces in order to get to school every day, but this latest example of The Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest tower.ladders at high altitudes is pretty amazing. The photographer Joe McNally, working for National Geographic, went to the top of the world’s tallest building to photograph the stunning view of Dubai below. At over two thousand feet tall (2,722 feet to be exact, or half a mile) the Burj Khalifa is the tallest man made structure on earth and has been since 2010 when it was finished. McNally spent three years in talks with the building’s administrator to arrange the photo shoot, which included climbing the final distance on a ladder, half a mile up in the sky.

Taking a Ladder to the Top

The journey to the top is a long one. There are 160 habitable floors in the Burj Khalifa and McNally and his team started at 5am in a service lift that runs all the way to the last floor. From there, the only way to the very top is up a series of metal staircases, installed at such an angle that they are more like ladders than staircases (one wonders whether the architects and engineers debated the use of space saving staircases over ladders in this case and why they went for the stairs). After climbing these steep stairs for a mind boggling forty six more (maintenance) floors, the final stage of the journey, and this is one which not many people have undertaken, is carried out on a vertical ladder, which runs straight up to the top for an amazing 826 metres (443 feet). The ladder itself is a cat style ladder with a cage of railings around it. Anyone who climbs the ladder is harnessed to it and the cage provides something to lean back against when you need to take a break, which, at 826 metres of climbing, would be quite frequently, especially when you take into account all the climbing already done by this point! McNally said of the ladder, “It’s a lengthy climb and it’s physically daunting.” A sentiment that sounds like a vast understatement!

Ladders to the Roof of the World

A view of McNally's feet down to the ground from the top of the Burj KhalifaOnce McNally had reached the top and presumably gotten his breath back, he was anchored to the top of the spike and climbed out over the side in order to get the photographs he had worked so hard to get. In one of the images you can see his own graffiti on the top of the spike, a message aimed at his wife. In other images you can see writing done by other people who have made the climb. It’s no surprise that people leave their mark here, after all, it is quite an achievement and it’s unlikely that the police will be interested in graffiti this high up. Once the shoot was complete, it was a long descent back to the ground floor, via ladders, stairs and lifts. This has got to be the world’s highest ladder (unless the plans for the ladder on Everest go ahead) but if you know of an even higher ladder then please let us know in the comments box below. Even better, if you’ve been up the Burj Khalifa we’d love to hear your experiences of all those ladders!