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It is mentioned several times that there are 7000 steps on the path to High Hrothgar. Are there actually 7000 steps or are the NPCs exaggerating?

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I was actually wondering the same thing! –  Ivo Flipse Nov 24 '11 at 22:35
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@Ivo me too, I've been hoping someone would be bored enough to count it :P –  z ' Nov 25 '11 at 3:25

4 Answers 4

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For the good of Gaming.SE, I actually counted the steps. There are nowhere near 7,000 steps in the game: I counted 732 visible step-like objects (tiered, flat platforms) on the way to High Hrothgar.

  • Bridge to Emblem I: 21
  • Emblem I to II: 151
  • Emblem II to III: 173
  • Emblem III to IV: 124
  • Emblem IV to V: 59
  • Emblem V to VI: 54
  • Emblem VI to VII: 24
  • Emblem VII to VIII: 19
  • Emblem VIII to IX: 51
  • Emblem IX to X: 25
  • Emblem X to Door: 31

Now, the path to High Hrothgar is really worn down: there are several huge gaps between the flights of stairs that may have conceivably had steps at some distant point in the past.

If so, there are 6,268 steps missing, or about 569 steps per segment. I don't doubt the world artists are amazing, but they definitely took some liberties in how the "steps" were designed.

As an aside, while coming up with an optimal, real-time route between Ivarstead and High Hrothgar was too tedious, I did note that fast travelling between both locations took 3 hours, 16 minutes in-game. At this speed, it'd be about 2,142 "steps" per hour, or one step every two seconds.

Given each step appears to be around a meter deep, the travel time is about 2.1 km/h. Googling around, I found that Trail Trove estimated most hikers move at around 3.2-4.8 km/h, which would make the trek up to High Hrothgar a particularly difficult hike. Although all things considered, not much of an inconvenience than an afternoon hike in a state park.

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2142 "steps" per hour = 2.142 km/h = 0.595 m/s on a flat surface. - on the other hand however, it is 3.02924545 km/h on a incline of 45 degrees –  alexanderpas Dec 4 '11 at 23:30
    
@alexanderpas Fixed. –  user3389 Dec 5 '11 at 0:14
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I didn't realize someone had done it, so I also just manually counted each and every step, and came out to 717. Note that it's hard to determine what counts as a "step" when they are staggered in many cases, and I got jumped by a troll and couldn't remember if I left off at 467 or 477 at one point. So our estimates are very close. –  MichaelS Dec 19 '11 at 1:44
    
Now imagine you're wearing 130 pounds of dragon armor on your afternoon hike - inconvenient yet? –  Coomie Jul 25 '12 at 4:00
    
@Coomie pshaw: I do that on my off days! –  user3389 Jul 25 '12 at 4:10

Based on some of the data above... this is probably fairly erroneous though. Let's say from the bottom of the steps to High Hrothgar, it takes 3 hours of fast travelling time, or 180 minutes. Someone also mentioned that unarmed, their character goes at about 100 steps a minute, or maybe a bit less. Therefore the journey takes about 18000 steps. And if two steps = 1 stair, then that means about 9000 stairs, or maybe less.

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The entire game is scaled. Take Fallout 3 or New Vegas as great examples, since those are based on real-world locations. Note that the entirety of Fallout 3 could likely fit inside the real-world location between the Jefferson Memorial and Capitol building (roughly 2 miles, based on MapQuest scaling), but they are just a few hundred yards away in the game, and the real-world distance between the Capitol building and Bethesda is like 8 miles, even though the entire game world is only 2 to 3 miles across (and represents like 50 miles of real-world terrain). Similarly, Primm is something like an hour's drive from Las Vegas in real life, and going from the center of Vegas to the Hoover dam takes 20 to 30 minutes (at 2 in the morning with no traffic), but either is a 5 minute run in NV.

Likewise, Skyrim (like Cyrodiil and Vvardenfell before it) is supposed to be a huge chunk of an entire continent perhaps the size of North America, yet is only a couple miles across relative to your character (and would easily fit into most major real-life cities). Perhaps the "real" Skyrim had 7000 literal steps before the snow covered half of them, but the in-game, scaled-down Skyrim likely does not.

Check out this map of Tamriel, and realize that's an entire continent. We can't be positive on the details, given how the physics of the world are vastly different than those on Earth, but it seems likely that Nirn was intended to be somewhere on the same scale as Earth, making "real" Tamriel quite vast -- far larger than the games portray, for obvious technically-limited reasons.

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don't forget time is schales too. 20 real life minutes is 1 ingame day. –  alexanderpas Dec 5 '11 at 0:12
    
The width of north america is about 2500 miles so it's scaled by a factor of 1000. Hence there should be 7 steps up to High Hrothgar! :P –  Annan May 23 '12 at 15:46

Based on an average human walk speed of 3 miles per hour and 2,000 steps per mile, the path to High Hrothgar would have to be 3.5 miles long if the claim of "7,000 steps" is true. Walking this distance would take just over an hour, or roughly one hour forty minutes uphill accounting for the height.

To test your question, I walked from the doors of High Hrothgar to the bridge at Ivarstead in 23 minutes real-time, or 7 hours 40 minutes of game-time. According to real-time, the path to High Hrothgar is only about 2,000 steps. Going by game-time, it would be more like 45,000 steps.

An alternative meaning could be that there are literally 7,000 stairs along the path. This can't be true either. Each stair is large enough to take two footsteps to walk over. In order for this explanation to be true, the entire path would have to be paved with steps seven abreast, whereas they are only around two to four abreast, and at least half of the path is unpaved.

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I think by "step" they mean stairs, not paces. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 25 '11 at 0:31
    
As I wrote in my answer, there aren't 7,000 stairs either. Each stair takes two footsteps to cross, meaning that even if the entire stairway was paved, I would have walked on 1,000 stairs, and it would have to be seven abreast to have 7,000 literal steps. Most steps are only three or four abreast, and most of the path isn't paved, so there are fewer than 7,000 steps. –  Jonathan Drain Nov 25 '11 at 1:29
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But you're starting from real-world data on how people walk, which is largely irrelevant to a TES game. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 25 '11 at 4:57
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Just now I watched my character walking unarmoured, and he took almost exactly 100 footsteps in one minute. This puts the path to High Hrothgar at 2,300 footsteps. It's impossible for there to be 7,000 actual stairs on a route of 2,300 paces, especially since half of the route is not paved with steps. The remaining distance would need to be paved with six steps per pace. Even if you count each flagstone as a separate step, which is a dubious enough definition, the route is only five flagstones wide at the widest part. –  Jonathan Drain Nov 25 '11 at 7:21
    
That would be a better basis for an answer. :) –  SevenSidedDie Nov 25 '11 at 16:47

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