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?