UA Tunnels – Getting In

This is perhaps the most daunting & troublesome aspect of almost any urban spelunking, Getting In. For the UA tunnel system, it’s not different.

When ever entering a facility or location, always consider three things: Your Entrance, The Security, & Your Exit.
The Tunnel Entrance:
Tunnels have two types of access points – above ground and underground.
Above ground access points are man-holes and vents, as well as a few exterior doors. For the former simply lift the covers from the small holes and climb down the ladder. (be sure to close the hole up behind you, else some poor student will fall and not only hurt themselves, but blow your cover.) The trick with the vents and man-holes is they are often chained down. Out of 15 you may find one that is not. However, if your slim, sometimes you can get the cover off far enough to slip through and down. The other trouble with the man-holes is their weight. For a 120 lb. guy it’s quite the heave to move the sucker, especially since you only get to use your fingers through the little holes. The vents are the same, however they’re raised above ground and a little more obvious. However, these are almost always chained down. But trying never hurts. Right?
Two examples of vents would be on the mall, in front of the clock tower, in the flower garden is a circular vent to the tunnels. While underground you can climb the ladder and peek around. The other is a small vent is along the south side, near the south-west corner of Forbes. North of Herring Hall. It sticks up just behind some nice new plants.
The other above ground access points are a few exterior staircases and doors. These are 100% locked, however, it’s a good place to have a peek into where you’ll be walking. Shine a light through the gate and listen to the sounds. Or notice a big door beneath your feet as your walk to the mall… just imagine being beneath it some day, just peak your interest a bit.
Underground access points are doors. Because every building gets water, every building has a door that leads to the tunnel. These however are usually well locked, damn hard to find, or both. Yet, sometimes you’ll get lucky. I can think of a few doors that may leave you in the wide open space of a building without any trouble.
The Union – The entrance to the tunnel is in a room that is just North of the South Eastern stair. If you take the stairs to the underground on the East side, there should be a door to your right. Inside that door, I believe the room is again to the right, from there it should be a door along the back wall.
The Library – A quick peek out a door from the tunnels revealed a room full of chairs and desks piled high to the ceiling.
The Power Plant – A gated door that looked directly into the South-Campus power plant was unlocked and accessible.
(perhaps UA police & security would like to use this information to double check themselves, please do)

One great way into a tunnel system is via a building in construction. Because they open access to the tunnel and leave the building wide open, i.e. no alarms and the doors unlocked. These buildings make for easy in and easy out points. Just be careful of the everpresent campus security and your step. Construction sites can be very dangerous and touching things or fiddling with equipment could lead to severe repercussions.

Yet, the glory awaits when you walk onto a construction site since you’re essentially doing double duty, tunnel exploration and building spelunking! And therefore any new building going up is candy to this urban-spelunker.
*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

UA Tunnels – Touring

Touring through the tunnels. For your first time or out of habit.

Getting around the UA tunnel system can be great fun! But while you’re down there I suggest being prepared and preparing the new-bees that may be accompanying you.
But first let’s look at basic security. The UA tunnels have security. If things are locked, that means you shouldn’t be there, right? right. Be aware of the presence of the multitude of campus police and security, as well as any other campus employees who may call the police. Due to the escalation of campus attacks, rapes, stalkers, etc there is a very large number of vigilant citizens out to harass the benign rule breaker. Be weary of all people and always have a plan for cover story, alibi, and general escape. There are also alarms on doors and motion detectors in the tunnels. Be aware. However, we’ve also found that the first time you’re caught ‘trespassing,’ yes this is trespassing, it’s a warning. Simply be sure to not have any weapons, spray paint, etc. etc. that would get you in trouble. Don’t be dumb.
Moving on. Things to consider before going underground.
1. If it’s your first time, get yourself a head lamp and mag-lite and do it the old fashioned way. Walk through the pitch black underground with just you and your spot. This not only adds to the thrill, but also helps to ensure you’ll be quiet and go unnoticed. However, if you want to use the lights, there are normal switches periodically through out the system. They glow when they’re off so you can spot them fairly easily. They will also be paired one is to turn off the lights from where you came the other to turn the lights on to where you’re going. Remember that at night, light emanating from a man hole is fairly obvious, as is laughing, shouting – etc.

2. Make sure you’ve got water with you. The tunnels are often referred to as steam tunnels. Along with the tele-comm they carry the heating steam to all the buildings, remember? That means the tunnels are incredibly hot and if you’re not drinking water you can get yourself in trouble quite quickly.
3. The tunnels are quite extensive, they go to every building on campus, so make sure you’ve got a good sense of direction before you venture down. You may want to look at a map ahead of time, or perhaps create your own map while you’re down there – i.e. – “we started out walking East – then came to a fork, North or South, we went North and noted writing at the fork that said the building names ….”. Almost every building is labeled, so keep your eyes open and read the walls, the pipes, the switches, or the blatant signs that are down there. Don’t go wriggling someplace you’re libel to get stuck in unless you’ve got a buddy with you or a radio. Cell phones may not work down below.
In general use the buddy system so you protect yourself if anything goes wrong – besides it’s always better to tell the story about you and your buddy sitting on the curb with the cops anyway, right?
Well, I suppose once you do anything you’re officially a pro at it, right? That was the standard in days past. In fact, it’s been a fun way to spend a late night with new friends, to challenge their willingness to live on the edge. Take them deep, dark, and dirty, scare the goods out of them, and see if you’re still friends when you pop out of a man hole someplace in the middle of campus. So long as your prudent to your safety and security and you have fun without damaging property, you’re good to go.

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

UA Tunnels – An Introduction

The University of Arizona – like many universities and campuses in general – have a tunnel system designed to carry the power, water, and telecom from their respective power, cooling, heating, and communication plants about the campus. These tunnels are accessible to maintenance personal on campus, and are often time accessible to urban spelunkers too, we just need to know where to look. — Cochise Alpha-Bravo

*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell