Abseiling The ArcelorMittal Orbit Is Great… Just Don’t Go Alone
Abseil off that weird bendy metal tower sculpture in the Olympic Park. That was the brief and it sounded brilliant so I said yes.
Obviously as the country’s tallest sculpture, Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit is due a bit more credit than that but I’m no architect and I had more pressing things on my mind.
Like the 80 metres of open air I have to traverse holding nothing more than a rope and my nervous bladder.
This isn’t me but I went down too quickly for the photographer to snap me, apparently
I have no experience of abseiling but I was assured by the knowledgable instructors that this wouldn’t be a problem. After all, it’s just sliding slowly down a rope, right?
Well yes, but the difficult part is the initial stepping over the edge and disengaging your brain which is telling you rather forcefully you’re doing something a little bit unnatural.
Added to the mix is the two large tubular bits of ArcelorMittal Orbit blocking an otherwise clear vertical descent to the ground, which looks particularly hard and unpadded from up here.
These aren’t my feet
One bashed shin later and I’m past them – it’s nothing but me, my rope and the view.
And what a view it is. From it’s vantage point in the East of London, the Orbit gives you stunning views of the entire London skyline.
The Shard, Canary Wharf, St Paul’s all visible. Actually, it’s quite a moving sight. Then I remember I’ve conquered abseiling as I hang 70m in the air.
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I want to whoop or at least hi-fave someone in the vicinity so they can share in my achievement. But there’s no one here.
Hanging alone from a rope, with all of London in view and all I can manage to say is “this is easy” with more than a touch of false bravado.
A solitary train passes below.
Workmen toil on the empty stadium that once held 80,000 enthralled and rapturous souls.
I start to ponder the isolated world of a journalist, going from one event to another, always surrounded by people but never long enough to really get to know them.
And what about my relationships?! I’m 30 and I’ve now been single longer than my last relationship lasted!
Imagine the shame of never giving my parents a grandchild. The shame!
And then I snap out of it because I’m being utterly ludicrous, but that’s what hanging alone from a rope above London can do to you.
Existential crisis aside, it’s actually great fun. Just make sure you bring some friends along to cheer you from the ground.
Abseiling from the ArcelorMittal Orbit will be available for the public to book on specific dates in 2015 and will cost £85 per person.
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