The Best Staircase in Western Washington University.

Bellingham Washington is located 30 minutes from the border of Canada in the northwest corner of Washington state. It is often called a hippie city by Washington residents that have visited. It is loved by Canadians who come down to buy up the groceries for cheap and college students who love marijuana. The city has a two colleges, the largest being Western Washington University(WWU). A large college that gives you a great college experience with a more hometown feel. The campus, like many places in the world, makes large use of staircases. Whether to climb up multiple floors or hike through the arboretum, students are consistently working their legs.

Many students that live on campus live in the Ridgeway complex(called the ridge for short). A complex of housing built on the hill that looks over western’s campus. The ridge is a great place to live for college students. It is only a few minute walk from the classrooms on campus, but the trees that cover the ridge makes it feel separate from the campus. Everyone is very friendly and parties can be found every weekend and sometimes midweek. The housing is split into sections, named after the Greek alphabet(alpha, beta, etc.). Each section has towers called “stacks” that house students. These stacks form small communities within the ridge that makes you feel like a small town. Each tower uses a staircase to get students up to higher levels. The best one is the stairway of gamma stack 7. This staircase is the pinnacle of architectural achievement on the ridge.

The staircase of Gamma stack 7

Five floor access, open air, wooden railing, this isn’t your average staircase. Some might go and call this staircase cheap, but the word cost efficient would be a better term. The cement steps nicely keep you lifted multiple floors above the ground, with no chance to breaking. The wooden beams are smooth to the touch and feel homely under your palm and the open air doesn’t make you feel closed in and trapped like some other staircases around campus. “There’s nothing else in the world that wakes me up like walking down the stairs breathing in the fresh crisp morning, having a coffee and cigarette” -Russ, Ridgway Resident.

Caption written on the wall by of of the students living in Gamma

However, what truly separates this staircase from others is the atmosphere of it. This staircases connects 5 stories of rooms with students in it. Conversations and friendships can be created on this staircase. The walls are brick and have chalk messages written on them that give you a feeling of community as you walk up there.

The best part is the top of the staircase. The ledge looks over a hill with a road on top of it. The ferns, trees, and other assortment of plants fill the hillside. Alas, the area has some garbage in it and is used by some as a compost bin, but with greenery this close to civilization it can’t be perfect. You can see the cars drive up the hill,feeling connected to society, but just pulled back enough from it that you don’t feel congested by society. This also gives you easy access to see if you have missed the bus for the later risers.

A view of the forest that the ridge is built within

The staircase is far off enough from the core grouping of Ridgeway housing that parties and disruptive noises are barely heard in the distance, if heard at all. You can feel the calm relaxed community the stairway gives access to as you take each step getting closer and closer to the sky.

Now this stairway isn’t perfect, the roofing is the steps above you, so it can feel slightly cramped above you on the lower floors. At the top of each steps is a view of greenery that makes it feel more open, but to say it isn’t a low a ceiling would be a life. The bottom floor is open to the greenery which at first seems nice, but when the rain falls you can get flooded in, there are sandbags down there, but it is still not a nice thing to walk out and see. The staircase is also the only way to get to the top floor, which is not fun for students moving in. With the Ridge already having a large number of stairways, bringing a refrigerator up the many flights of stairs just to be welcomed by the wondrous achievement of the gamma stack 7 stairway can put people off the atmosphere of the climb.

It is definitely one of the more extravagant staircases to climb on the ridge. It is one of the few place that you aren’t surrounded by other buildings. The squirrels aren’t digging through the trash and running across paths, they are climbing trees and jumping through the brush. It is not a must climb while going to western, but it is an experience that allows you to see everyday life on the ridge, the nature around the ridge, and the peacefulness that can sometimes be lacking in a college environment.