Saturday, July 7, 2012

Climbing the O2

Yesterday Dave, Kellee and I took advantage of one of London's newest activities -- we climbed the O2 Arena! (You may know it by its previous name, the Millennium Dome.)

We didn't just scramble up it in our sneakers. A new pathway has just been opened across the dome's roof, and a company sells tickets to anyone who wants to traverse it (and who meets the fitness requirements).

First, we took the newly opened Emirates Air Line, a towering cable car across the River Thames, from Docklands to the O2 Arena. As I understand it, this cable car was created with the Olympics in mind, to get people from the north bank of the Thames to the south for basketball and gymnastics events being held inside the dome. It's just like those cable car rides I used to take at Disney World and Busch Gardens, but much, much higher.

We got a great view of the Thames and its barges!

When we got to the dome, we had to wait about an hour until our scheduled climbing time. So we got a snack at Costa and watched other climbers as they took on the challenge.

(Not to overstate our achievement, but I've read that Mount Everest is something like this nowadays -- groups of climbers lining up at base camp, watching each other proceed upward. Soon I suppose they'll have a Costa too.)

This is the pathway. The most difficult parts are the very beginning and end, when the slope is about 30 degrees. Before setting out, climbers don a sort of blue spacesuit and body harness. The harness is then tethered to a metal cable that stretches the length of the rooftop pathway, theoretically preventing anyone from slipping down the side of the building.

The pathway is made of blue, bouncy, trampoline-like material. We were asked not to bounce, but it sure was tempting.

At the top, climbers can untether and walk around on a large circular viewing platform, which offers an amazing panorama of the surrounding region of Docklands, Greenwich and Canary Wharf. Here are Dave, Kellee and me -- well, our shadows anyway -- at our triumphal moment!

Altogether, the climb took about 90 minutes, and it wasn't particularly arduous. And tickets are just £22, which seems pretty reasonable.

Here's one more view of the Emirates Air Line, taken from the riverboat dock next to the O2 at the end of our climb.

As we took the ferry back to Westminster, I had a celebratory Stella Artois and watched the scenery slip past. I certainly never imagined I'd be hauling myself across the top of the Millennium Dome. You just never know, do you?


Reya Mellicker said...

Wow! Incredible images.

How high is the top of the dome?
What are the fitness requirements?

Probably safer that you didn't bounce, but I can imagine the temptation would be almost irresistable.

Great that you had a perfect weather day to do it. The clouds are gorgeous.

Pauline said...

Glad to do this vicariously from the safety of my computer chair ;)

Linda Sue said...

That was a great adventure- better you than me...I am thinking that they should have paid you 22 quid! Thanks for going and taking us all along. the shots are fabulous.

Lynne said...

Fabulous photos! Love the angles you shot from. And what glorious weather you had too! (Did you lug the new camera with?)

I'm afraid that tram is a bit too high for my liking. Yikes, it's really UP there.

What an adventure!

e said...

You live a charmed life...Thanks for sharing it here.

Elizabeth said...

That's just wild! I had no idea. I'm curious about the outfits you had to wear -- any photos of those?

Ms.M said...

Wow, is that what it looks like. I have heard about it but never actually seen any images of it. Thanks for the shots!


Steve Reed said...

Reya: I don't know how high it is! But I'm sure that web site I linked to will mention it. Climbers are asked about their weight and overall fitness, and the company that hosts the climbs says it reserves the right to refuse any climbers access.

Lynne: No, this is the point-and-shoot once again! Climbers are only allowed to bring a cell phone, and I substituted my point-and-shoot for my phone.

Elizabeth: I have some photos, but I usually avoid putting photos of myself on my blog. (Why, I'm not sure. My blog has just evolved that way!) Basically they're blue body suits of nylon, or some similar material. I'm sure I'll put a photo on Flickr in coming days or weeks, and when I do, I'll link to it.

Dave said...

Super fun!