Oh how much am I loving this experiment! Remind me I said that when I find myself breaking my legs doing parkour or something crazy on a cold winters day. But for now.....Well my latest suggested draw from the Secret Life box was 'Yellow...6'. Slightly puzzled when I first saw the card with a picture of the O2 on it...did I have to go and see Justin Bieber playing live? Now that would have been a low point! But no, it was to do the 'Up On the O2' challenge. This is a fairly new concept where a walkway has been constructed over the top of the O2 to enable people to (with the aid of safety equipment) climb over the top of this iconic venue.
Again my challenge at a weeks' notice was to check availability. I was excited to see the range of options available for the 'climb'......At sunset.....at sunrise...night climb...who knew!? Availability on a Saturday dictated it was a good old straight forward day climb. Bring it on. As I arrived on this gloriously sunny afternoon I could see how in demand this whole idea is and how I was lucky to get on the climb that day at all, as I saw latecomers turned away as each of the climbs was fully booked. I think that yet again I had landed lucky with my 'place for one' booking. So, along with two couples and a stag doo of 10 guys, we were settled into 'Base Camp' to watch a safety briefing. I hadn't really considered that this might be a difficult or even slightly dangerous thing to do, but the briefing video made us feel like we were about to scale Everest. Equipped with an impressive harness and safety boots, we were ready for the off!
In the hands of our very capable climbing guide Zoltan (who passed a very eye pleasing resemblance to my favourite tennis player, Rafa Nadal) we were checked and double checked before being escorted onto the departure deck. Clamped onto the climbing line with our harnesses, we started to scale the very bouncy walkway to the top. At a gradient of about 30deg, and negotiating the transition points along the wire, it was actually more technical than it looked. I'd like to have shown you how this looked in progress but cameras and phones were strictly to be kept in our safety suit pockets at this point (yes Zoltan/Rafa). Around 20mins later we made it to the top viewing platform and were free to walk around at the view...and wow! Across to Canary Wharf and behind to see the Shard, Crystal Palace, and the Gherkin, over to the east and the Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier and of course closer to home the Royal Observatory. Even the stag group were surprisingly quietened by the experience...it was that good!
All to soon it was time to descend...and if you think that was the easy bit, oh no. As there is no platform to break the walkway on the way back down, the gradient is even steeper and we clung onto the rope despite being told that our specialist footwear meant we could walk normally. As we came down looking slightly strange a group of Japanese teenagers dressed up in superhero costumes looked up at us in dismay. It turns out the Hyper Japan Festival was on that weekend....who looked more unusual I thought to myself?
And so, what could next week hold in store? Well my parents are down for their annual London trip so I'm thinking that I should definitely avoid the category that may just contain parkour....
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.