|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (March 2010)|
Elevator surfing, also known as "vator surfing" or "elevaroping", is an activity involving riding on top of elevators. Rarely, the activity may also involve jumping between moving elevators, although most elevator surfers consider this to be unwise and needlessly dangerous.
Elevator surfing is illegal in many locations. Several people have died elevator surfing. Surfers can be crushed between the elevator and the top or sides of the elevator shaft, be struck by the counterweight, or slip and fall to their deaths. The surfer does have the ability to stop the elevator at any time by pressing the emergency stop button on the roof of the elevator car, reducing the risk of being crushed against the top of the shaft.
It is highly recommended for a prospective surfer to research whether the top of the elevator shaft has headroom or not. Most elevator shafts do, although some hydraulic and roped hydraulic elevators may not. A surfer would be wise to check for clearance by manually driving the elevator to the top of the shaft before doing anything else. It is even more highly recommended not to engage in elevator surfing at all, of course.
Elevator surfing typically occurs in skyscrapers or on college campuses, especially those with tall buildings. Most large buildings have groups of elevators close together, which are most commonly used.
To begin, participants will usually go into such a building early in the morning, before too many people arrive to use the elevators, or late at night, when most of the building's occupants have left. Entry into the elevator shaft is usually achieved by using a special key to open the outer doors, or a wire coat hanger bent into the approximation of such a key. Alternatively, participants may force the elevator car's doors open between floors and unlatch the outer doors from the inside. Contrary to common misconception, the emergency hatch in the roof of the elevator can almost never be opened from inside the elevator car, being designed for the use of emergency crews to rescue trapped passengers rather than allowing passengers to escape on their own.
This activity typically takes place when there isn't much movement with the elevators, which lowers the risk and involvement. Accomplices will sometimes press buttons on the inside of the elevators to provide the movement. Movement can also be provided by means of service controls located on top of the elevator car, which allow complete control over the movement of the elevator, but at a reduced speed.