Crystal’s Intern Experience: Sky High

What flies, is not a living thing, and towers over the beautiful St. Louis skyline?

No, Silly, not an airplane; it’s a Tower Crane!!

There are many types of tower cranes, but the kind I have become familiar with is the Liebherr 550. Last week I did a crazy thing…

Austin, my direct supervisor, and I SCALED THE CRANE and reached the top 260 feet off the ground!! If you are not familiar with construction, you may be trying to picture this giant…Look Below!!! We climbed the one on the right, the taller and more powerful of the two.


Now it probably sounds this was all for fun and games. Although it was super thrilling, I did learn a bunch while I was up there. We started at the bottom. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty from my first step on the ladder. There was a level of stairs, then a small platform before wrapping around for the next level. In the picture below, the stairwell can be identified as the cylindrical portion inside of the square base. It was like climbing up a tube with rungs!!

As we ascended past the height of the hospital being built, I would look out and giggle at each platform because I couldn’t comprehend how high up we were. As we neared the top, we could feel the crane swaying a bit, so we stood as if we were on a metro: feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hand on a crossbar. Although it was a tad unnerving that we were hundreds of feet up on something that felt unsteady, my technical background reminded me that it was actually a good thing that the tower crane was moving. If it was made to be too rigid, the top of crane would shear off due to extra big loads or a storm!!

We set a stopwatch to know how long it took to get to the top…but we forgot to stop the clock when we got up there. So we think it took about 10 minutes…give or take a few. 🙂

We met Brian the operator who showed us a bit how the whole operation works. Then we headed up through a small door and a few more stairs to the counter jib, the piece that extends horizontally behind the operator and is used as a balance to the piece in front of the operator. I had never felt so free. I could see what seemed like all of Saint Louis, including a couple SLU dorms, the arch, some of the 70+ St. Louis Neighborhoods, and coolest, a bird’s eye view of the construction site. It turned out to be extremely helpful to have a different perspective of the site. I could see a 3D version of the construction drawings we use in the office every day!

Hands down top 5 coolest experiences I have had in my life. A huge thank you to Alberici and especially Austin who made the trek happen!! It was Austin’s first time up a tower crane, too, so I feel especially lucky going up Week Three at Alberici!!


Crystal is an Alberici intern blogging about her experiences at the SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital project this summer. Click here to read her first post.