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BUXTON, NC (AP) — The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is opening to the public for the season, but officials warn that climbing the 248 steps to the top isn’t for the weak.

The National Park Service warns that climbing the iron spiral stairs is the same as climbing a 12-story building, with no air-conditioning. The narrow, two-way stairs have a handrail on one side and a landing every 31 steps. The 141-year-old structure in Buxton on Hatteras Island opens Friday. Tickets are free for the first day.

Until May 27, visitors may climb the lighthouse from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Between May 27 and Sept. 5, the lighthouse is open until 5:30 p.m. It will remain open until Oct. 10. Tickets are sold on site.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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