UP AT THE O2 is a new attraction that officially opened on 21 June this year. It involves an expedition across the roof along a 190m tensile fabric walkway. Halfway through the experience, there is a break at a central platform that provides 360 degree views of the city, before a descent down to the base of the venue on the other side.
Katrina and I were up for a little challenge. We were giggly with nerves when we saw just how steep the bouncy blue canvas walkway above the arena actually was. But, taking comfort in each other’s company, we bravely advanced to ‘base camp’ where we joined another 13 adventurers for our pre-climb briefing. We had to sign our lives away, swear we were sober and sit patiently through a hilariously funny (go on, force yourself to smile) health and safety video. But we did it. That’s the kind of plucky old girls we are. After a precautionary trip to the loo, we struggled into our slightly whiffy blue climbing suits (definitely not Stella, more boiler). Then it was time to put a cat’s cradle of a harness on, the thick straps of which wound around our bodies and in particular our thighs, constricting them and quite frankly doing nothing to enhance our derrieres (but quite a lot to highlight the male climbers’ packages).
As we emerged into the sunshine and climbed the steps to the beginning of the wobbly walkway we, rather graciously, went last as we were convinced our lungs would burst before we had tottered very far up the apparently vertical incline and we didn’t want the embarrassment of holding up the rest of the expedition. Turns out, Katrina’s crampon was faulty and so it actually did take us ages to walk the initial very steep section, clinging as we were for dear life to the thick steel rope rail while clumsily waggling our crampons at every 5 metre junction of the guide rope. The fact that we were concentrating so hard on the crampons stopped us from screaming with fear as we ascended ever higher.
When we summit-conquering heroines reached the viewing platform at the highest point, our guide pointed out landmarks such as The Shard, the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier and Canary Wharf. We were in awe of the truly amazing panoramic views – including the Thames winding around us and the planes coming into to land at City Airport just above our heads. The descent was thrillingly steep and, as we stepped onto ground level, we discovered we’d all been filmed for posterity. We were efficiently ushered to a screen to view our footage but when our contorted faces, windswept hair and chubby bodies appeared on the monitor we immediately declined the offer of said memento. We decided we would be perfectly happy with our memories (and £9 better off). It was a brilliant activity and we were both sooooo glad we got off our (plump but beautiful) arses and did it. We are now feeling quite proud of ourselves and, best of all, our teenage boys think we are really, really cool. Oh yeah.
Quirky facts: The O2, in homage to Greenwich Mean Time, has an overall diameter of 365 metres, twelve masts, is 52 metres high (same height as Nelson’s Column). If you turned The O2 upside down, it would take Niagara Falls 15 minutes to fill it or 3.8 billion pints of beer, whichever you prefer. The volume of The O2 is equal to 13 Albert Halls, 10 St Paul’s Cathedrals and the Eiffel Tower could fit inside lying down. Most impressively (as far as little old me is concerned) is that 22 million people applied for Led Zeppelin tickets when they played at The O2.Yours, Sherpa Grace x