The Truth About the CN Tower Climb



For over 25 years, Torontonians have been climbing the CN tower to raise money and awareness for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Canada’s largest conservation organisation was founded in 1961 with the aim to bring substantial financial support to the conservation movement on a worldwide scale.

The CN Tower Climb has become a renowned family event for people of all fitness levels and ages. While the task may seem daunting, I can confirm that it isn’t as bad as you may think. Honestly.

My preparation for the climb was extensive. I went to the gym when I felt like it, went out basically every weekend and ate my body weight in Dairy Queen over the last month. So after this strict training regime, I can truthfully say the CN Tower Climb is doable.

I obviously don’t recommend heading into this challenge the way that I did. WWF does have a suggested training routine that, in hindsight, would have helped myself and my team, complete this feat in a shorter time (we did it in just over 40 minutes). Despite my completing the climb while not following a strict diet, this won’t be possible for everyone.

However, if you are thinking of tackling the climb in future, here is an honest rundown of the day and what to expect.

Good Morning

The check in time for the event is 6-9am. This meant we were up by 5:30 and arrived at the Metro Convention Centre for 6:30. This enabled us to avoid queues and enjoy a relatively clear path to the top. When you arrive, you first need to pick up your wristband that contains the chip they scan to record your start/finish times. Then you can use their coat check to leave all your belongings behind. They have a strict rule that you can only carry keys in the stairwell. This means no phones, no coins and no water. And I mean, no water at all.

They provide climbers with water at the check-in point and at the end of the climb. Bare this in mind if you need a lot of water when working out as once you reach floor 100, you really feel that dry mouth.

I’d recommend the early start. We were definitely more energised and when we arrived at the top, the fresh sunrise meant the view was outstanding. When we were coming back down in the lift at 8:30am, there was a queue of later arrivals waiting to get started.  

Photo by Amelia Green

Climbing Tactics

This will depend on your age and fitness capabilities. The climb is not a race so go at whatever pace you need. Every 10 flights there is a paramedic cheering you on and posters lining the walls with motivational captions, which despite sounding a bit lame, really keeps you going. We decided that we would do 20 flights at a slow pace, take a break and then repeat. This helped in that we had something to focus on and work towards other than the 144th floor, which just didn’t seem in reach.

So, figure out what works best for you and set goals along the way to keep yourself motivated.

Friends Make It Worthwhile

While the view at the top is incredible, it’s the people you share the journey with that make this experience like no other. Cheering each other on and taking breaks whenever someone needed to, we were in it together the whole way despite varying fitness levels.

Once we reached the top, we grabbed a water and asked anyone with a phone to take some pictures for us. These images will always hold fond memories for me and remind me of this incredible challenge that I shared with the girls on my exchange year in Toronto.

Photo by Amelia Green

If you’re still having doubts, just sign up and do it. Despite the sheer size of the CN tower and the horrible feeling you get in your gut when you stare up at it beforehand, it’s totally doable and worth it. You also get a lot of satisfaction on nights out afterwards, turning to your mates whenever the skyscraper appears and announcing: “I climbed that.”