Taking Inventory: Ladder

Do you like awful puns? No? Rung answer!

The fastest way to traverse a vertical distance in Minecraft is falling. Falling is quick, simple, and you don’t need any special equipment for it. There’s just one problem – it hurts, and if you fall far enough and don’t land on something soft then you’ll perish. That’s why ladders exist, and why we’re bestowing on them the glory of being our item of the week!

Ladders were added to Minecraft early on in the game’s development, in June 2010. They’re made by putting seven sticks in a crafting grid in an H-shape, which gives you three chunks of ladder. That means that making a stack of ladders requires about two and a half stacks of sticks. If all that crafting feels like too much of a hassle, you can also find ladders in various structures - mostly commonly village churches, strongholds, end ships and igloos.

Ladders obviously help you climb vertical surfaces, but here’s a bonus tip: ladders can also catch you while you’re falling. If you fall into the block space next to a ladder, then your speed will be reduced to normal “descending ladder” speed, and you’ll take no damage. Nice! Also, pressing shift while on a ladder will hold you in place, though doing so will slow down your rate of mining. Finally, ladders can be used as furnace fuel, if you accidentally make an entire stack of them and live in a bungalow.

In the real world, ladders are pretty ancient technology. In the Spider Caves (who’d want to go to a place with a name like that?), in Valencia, Spain, there’s a 10,000-year-old cave painting that depicts two people using a ladder to harvest honey from a wild beehive. That ladder is long and flexible - more like a rope ladder than a rigid one.

You probably already know that the bits you climb on a ladder are called “rungs” (which comes from the Old English word “hrung”, meaning a rod or bar). But can you name the other parts? The vertical supports that the rungs sit between are called “beams”, the curved bits that help secure ladders to surfaces are called “hooks”, and gloriously the bottom end of a ladder - the bit that touches the ground - is called the “butt”. What a wonderful world we live in!

Written by
Duncan Geere