Urban exploration starts with an email to your friends:
subj: wanna infiltrate a missile silo?
It’s that easy. Well, not really. The first Titan silo my friends and I visited was impossible to get into. It took about a week, and we figured a way into an honest-to-god Titan I missile silo in eastern Colorado. We learned a few things along the way:
Do the research first
If it exists, there is an internet subculture for it. Most of the time, someone’s already done the thing you’re interested in doing. Sites like uer.ca can get you a huge start on things, but don’t stop there. We got most of our information from first-hand accounts on the Adventure Rider Motorcycle forum (those guys are less about secret urbexp posturing and more into “check out this cool thing I found”).
I also found schematics and models online, which would later prove invaluable:
Anyway, our first attempt was a wash. We picked the wrong silo site to try to get into (which also happened to be the closest one to where we lived). But that’s cool, because we learned a lot just by scouting.
Scout the location first
I’m sure there are some hard core urbexp people out there who roll up to abandoned insane asylums with truckloads of gas masks and climbing rigs in the middle of the night and just… explore. Me and my friends, urbexp virgins, for the most part, were more circumspect. We went to the site the first time with no intention of going inside, just to see what access was like. Would we have to climb fences? Were there businesses or neighbors or parking nearby? Were there a shitload of No Trespassing signs ringing the joint?
The biggest benefit of scouting, especially if it’s your first urban exploration adventure, is that it calms your nerves a little. On our first trip, I kept waiting for sirens and some sort of armed response to our attempt to walk around in a nuclear site decommissioned in the 1950s. After an hour of hopping fences and slinking around in broad daylight in the middle of nowhere, I’d reset my expectations: there was no security other than some deterrence (fences), and even though we were someplace we probably shouldn’t be, nobody was paying attention.
Safety and gear
Exploration doesn’t take much gear, despite what you might think. Don’t think tactical gear and harness and stuff, think simple. The main things are not getting lost, being able to see, and keeping bad shit off your skin and out of your lungs.
Here’s our preliminary list, from email bounced around before the trip:
http://www.coopersafety.com/item/100922/3M-8271-P95-Respirators-10-box.aspx (or something more elaborate)
change of clothes (particulates)
5 gal jug o’ water for washing
lights (including one of those 12v 1 katrillion candlepower spotlight flashlights (we named it Sally))
rope? (50ish feet of something that can support [our heaviest dude] wouldn’t be a bad idea)
first aid shit?
We didn’t bring the stupid fuckin’ rope because we didn’t want to get caught pretending we were Charlie Bronson. It would have been a good idea, though.
Do not go urbexping alone
Even if you know the place really well. There’s probably some way you can die or get seriously hurt and have to chew your arm off or something. And by the nature of the pursuit, you’re going to be somewhere dark and abandoned. It’s better to have someone there just in case.
Jack (of Die < Less fame) makes it a practice to send “avenge my death” emails to his friends and local family whenever he goes on a solo motorcycle adventure with timelines, GPS, maps, etc. It’s a good strategy, especially for off road motorcycle trips that may not be conducive to dragging friends along, but it will work for your urbexping if you have absolutely no one to wander around in the dark with.
There are no rules
You don’t have to take pictures. You don’t have to only go to abandoned missile silo sites, or break into anything. Maybe urban exploration for you is checking out the alleys and peeking into windows. Or maybe “urban” is too specific. Stone walls and old graveyards in the woods count. And you don’t just have to look around… you can fix stuff up while you’re there.
It’s not what you expect
We tend to focus on ourselves, and we think that people are watching us, noting us, paying attention to us. We tend to believe that police and security guards are omniscient, or at least insanely vigilant.
Things like urban exploration, buildering, gaming in public, and parkour can help you realize that you’re mostly invisible. You are barely a blip in someone’s day, and more often than not, they forget you almost immediately. We all like to mind our own business. So don’t worry about looking weird. Do something awesome and have fun doing it. Let everyone else worry about themselves.Related: Popular: