Extremely dangerous addition draws thrillseekers to forbidden Haiku Stairs

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An amateur swing, thousands of feet atop a forbidden mountain trail.

Viewers used the Report It feature on our website to alert us of a recently built swing at the top of Haiku Stairs, a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven, in Kaneohe.

The hike itself is already illegal. Now daredevils are seeking an even bigger — and extremely dangerous — thrill, swinging 2,820 feet atop the Koolau Mountains.

Swings have been cropping up at various trails across Oahu, not just Stairway to Heaven.

“If they’re swinging out over the open area, potentially if they fell off, it could be fatal,” said Vernon Ansdell, Friends of Haiku Stairs president.

Ansdell has been fighting to reopen Haiku Stairs ever since it closed to the public in 1987.

But the new swing “is illegal right now. People who go up there, it’s big fines. It’s not helping our cause to have people up there. We don’t condone it,” he said.

The swing was built along two existing rusted poles at the top of the stairs. We don’t know who’s responsible.

Marcus Griego with 808 Caveman Hiking Group calls it a liability.

“I’ve been told it’s a death trap. Somebody one day is going to fly off it, and snap. Guess what’s going to happen immediately,” Griego said.

The Honolulu Fire Department says firefighters performed 27 mountain rescues in the area since January 2015.

Griego fears the new swing will raise the numbers. “Word is getting out. Folks see a great picture and think they can do it,” Griego said.

The swing is on watershed land, which is owned by the Board of Water Supply. “They’re actually on the stairs, near the summit. Even if (hikers) came up the Moanalua side, which is okay, once they cross those stairs, it is illegal,” Ansdell explained.

The question is: What will be done about it?

A Board of Water Supply spokesperson said they weren’t even aware of the new addition until we asked them about it.

Still, the utility declined to do an on-camera interview on the topic.

Instead, we received the following statements (which contradicts what we were told earlier):

“The Board of Water Supply has been aware of this for a few weeks and has been working on options to remove it. In the meantime, we would like to remind people that the Haiku Stairs is closed and that people hiking up there are trespassing and can be subject to fines of up to $1,000.”

“The BWS does not know who is responsible for the installation of the swing, which it regards as highly dangerous and irresponsible, and strongly opposes any attempt to access it.”

The Board of Water Supply is looking at ways to remove the stairs.

“The contract for the Haiku Stairs Environmental Impact Statement is going through the contract approval process. Once the contract is executed, the BWS will issue a Notice to Proceed,” it said in a statement.

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