Baldwin St roller-skating effort recognised

21:38, May 12 2014
Iain Clark
STEEP CLIMB: Iain Clark on foot on Baldwin St today celebrating his climb up the steepest street in the world in 1988 with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.

Busting his guts on roller skates up the steepest street in the world was a feat former Dunedinite Iain Clark believed was worth recognising.

But his disappointment at discovering, after a search on Google, that his efforts were unrecognised spurred him to take action.

Back in 1988 he ascended Dunedin’s Baldwin St on roller skates.

Baldwin St is listed by the Guiness Book of Records as the world's steepest street - the 161.2m of its upper most section climbing a vertical height of 47.22m, an average gradient of 1 in 3.41. On its steepest section the gradient is 1 in 2.86.

So, self-confessed eccentric Clark got on to the mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, and a plaque commemorating Clark's success was duly made and unveiled today.

Clark was president of the Dunedin Roller Skating Club at the time of his achievement and was then aged 27.


"I was doing quite a lot of competitive roller skating at the time and I heard the inaugural Gut Buster race advertised on the radio. I wondered if I could do that [on roller skates]."

The annual race to the top of the famous hike and back again tests around a thousand participants on foot.

He turned up for the race and organisers agreed to him participating.

Clark said the prospect of skating up the hill, which is almost vertical in some places, did not frighten him.

"I wasn't scared, it was more apprehension than anything. My strategy was just to get up in one piece without falling over. One of my worries was slipping backwards or just doing a face plant."

The commemorative plaque would hopefully give his record skate more credibility so it could be officially recognised, Clark said.

Guiness had rejected his efforts for inclusion in its recognised records, though Ripley’s had recently recorded it in its files.

Baldwin St is named after the original surveyor of the area, William Baldwin, who was on the  Otago Provincial Council and founder of the Otago Guardian newspaper in 1873.

Fairfax Media