Would you pay $136 to scale one of the scariest steps in the world?

Photo: Miguel Tolraba

SINGAPORE - Imagine ascending rickety metal steps in pitch darkness, with only the narrow beam of your headlamp for guidance.

Some climbers rather stow away their headlamp because scaling the Stairway to Heaven is illegal.

Rightly so, because the 3,922-step ascent has braved the elements, and the lack of maintenance has worn and rusted the structures.

Also known as the Haiku Stairs, this forbidden trail lies in Oahu, Hawaii, and originally led to a top secret facility by the US Navy during World War II.

After the navy ceased operations there, the US Coast Guard took over the base to build the Omega Navigation System station.

However, the trail quickly fell to disuse after the station closed down.

Although the state officially sealed public access in 1987, hikers have managed to vault over the barriers in pre-dawn darkness to avoid getting caught.

According to Fox News, a group of local residents and volunteers have formed a nonprofit organization, Friends of Haiku Stairs, to repair and reopen the trail to public.

The project will be a costly one, and the group proposed to charge entrance fees of US$100 (S$136) for non-Hawaii residents and US$20 for the residents.

Hefty yes, but it beats getting fined US$600 and locked up for six months if you get arrested.

Judging from the barrage of social media posts, hikers are still willing to bear the risk and Business Insider reported that dozens still sneak in everyday.

For good reason - when the sun peeks over the rising mist, bathing the entire island in golden rays, you'll see that the view is all worth it.

debwong@sph.com.sg

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