Copyright 2009 - 2017 by Mario Vaden
Stratosphere Giant was listed as the 24th largest Coast Redwood, and 3rd tallest (2013 data). The 2013 measurements were 372.73 ft. or 113.61 meters tall, and 17.0' diameter at diameter breast height, which is 4.5' above grade. Stratosphere Giant shown below, was the tallest known in 2000, discovered that year by Chris Atkins near Bull Creek and Avenue of the Giants. To see how tall this redwood really is compared to humans, search online for the composite photograph by James Balog. Several hundred images showing researchers up the trunk at various heights. This is Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The photograph is from around 7am the morning when I first saw the Stratosphere Giant: taken with a borrowed Nikon D40 camera. It was still pretty dark out.
This could have been an Atkins & Taylor discovery in 2000. In July, Atkins called Taylor to see if he wanted to explore in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. That day, Taylor was busy working on machines were Nicoderm patches were manufactured and packaged, the factory where he was employed. Later that day, Atkins found "The Strat" and measured it at 368 ft., a new world record.
Stratosphere Giant has plenty of black charred areas on the trunk, but it survived rather nicely. Of the tallest five coast redwoods, it was the only one with poison-oak growing on it. Just one small remnant of a vine. Nothing very important, but I thought it was a nice accessory. I appreciate the autumn colors of poison-oak plants. The leaves add gold or red leaves against the coarse furrowed bark. Michael Taylor gave me a photo he took from the reverse side of Stratosphere Giant with Dr. Steve Sillett climbing, and the vine was alive in his image.
In A New Vision of the American Forest, James Balog, a photographer, wrote that Stratosphere Giant was 369.875' tall when he first photographed it: September 2003. He was invited to join a research team because Steve Sillett out of Humboldt State University needed good visual documentation. Balog shared that one drizzly morning, he hiked to Stratosphere Giant, with Steve Sillett, Jim Spickler and Marie Antoinne, Sillett's wife. All three of whom are researchers. They were carrying over a "mile of cordage" including 13 millimeter rope with a breaking strength of 9,000 pounds. They were all set with 2 laptop computers, energy bars, turkey sandwiches and much more It took them a few hours to reach the top.
Apparently Jim Spickler found an abandoned nest on the way up, from a Marbled Murrelet, an endangered species sea bird. This was supposed to be the highest Marbled Murrelet nest found to date, at about 320' above ground level.
By 2005, Stratosphere Giant surpassed 370 ft. tall.
From a August 2007 metroactive.com article ...
Santa Rosa amateur naturalist Chris Atkins first visited the redwoods in the 1980s. "I was in awe of their size, their beauty and their longevity," Atkins says. He found himself drawn back to redwood country again and again. In time, Atkins teamed up with Michael Taylor, who shared his craving for fresh air and biological extremes. Eventually, Atkins and Taylor blew $3,000 apiece on high-end laser range-finders.