Scaling the heights: climb The O2 in North Greenwich

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We all know them, don’t we? People who go off and do truly impressive physical feats – like running marathons for charity, climbing hills or even mountains, or even competing in those crazy triathlon things. Well, if you think such folks are a far removed breed – or, indeed, if you’re a member of this far removed breed – the next time you’re in London why not show ’em what you’re made of by scaling the iconic O2?

O2 IN NORTH GREENWICH

Promoted as an ‘exhilarating 90-minute experience’, Up at the O2 is a guided expedition – via bouncy, fabric walkway – over the roof of The O2 exhibit (originally The Millennium Dome) located next to the Thames in North Greenwich. Suspended two meters above The O2 roof surface, the walkway is all of 52 meters above ground level, while 380 meters long. And, at the summit, there’s an observation platform for you to pause on and take in the truly spectacular views it offers of London, day, night or at sunset – in fact, if the sky’s clear of cloud, it’s said you can see for a full 15 miles. Yes, really.

Now, admittedly, all that may sound a little exerting and unnerving. Especially if you’re not crazy about heights. But sundry online reviews – even by those who’ve tried it out and admit to be not the best when it comes to heights – attest that the experience is far from scary and not that strenuous. Moreover, if the weather’s at all bad (very wet or windy or stormy with lightning), then your booked slot will be rescheduled for another time – note: refunds aren’t available, though. Plus, it goes without saying that it’s an entirely safe thing to do; the guides are professional and very well trained, so it appears highly unlikely that any sort of an accident might occur.

The experience

Before the climb begins, things kick-off when you’re introduced to your guide, so you learn what you’ll need to know and do, in addition to receiving a special climb suit, shoes and safety harness (it’s advisable, obviously, to wear sensible clothes yourself). If it’s chilly on the day/ evening you go, it’s likely you’ll also be offered a boiler suit to keep out the chill.

Once you step outside, your instructor will connect you and the others in your group with a support line that runs up the middle of the walkway; this is then your cue for you and your group (which is likely to be of a maximum 16 people) to step on to the walkway and begin the ascent up the domed outside of The O2.

Made out of a buoyant, trampoline-like material, the walkway’s bound to bounce a little as you walk along it, but should be entirely safe. At its steepest point, it boasts an incline of 28° as you ascend and, following the pause on the platform at the dome’s summit,an incline of 30° on the descent. The ‘bounce’ effect is meant to mirror what you’d feel should you actually – admittedly foolhardily – attempt to climb up the building’s real exterior.

Online reviews assert that during the 20-minute interval at the top, it’s possible to view Canary Wharf (not surprising as it’s very near), but also Tower Bridge and myriad other famous buildings as the Thames snakes towards and away from you way down below. Who knows, you might even be able to pinpoint the area where – should you be visiting London – you’re staying in; especially if you’re based in the nearby City of London at, say, The Montcalm hotel at The Brewery London City.

Once you’ve completed the descent, you can relax as you reach the ‘I conquered The O2’ point (which a sign there handily exclaims). Will it feel like a real achievement to ‘conquer’ the Up at the O2 London attraction? Quite possibly, but of course, the only way to know is to actually try it out. Either way, you can toast your success of completing the challenge by afterwards enjoying something bubbly – with or without a meal, depending on how you feel – in one of the many bars or restaurants within The O2 itself. And back on terra firma, needless to say.

What you need to know

This time of year, the attraction’s open from 10am/ 12noon to around 6.30pm/ 8pm. Tickets are priced around the £30 mark (per person). To take part in Up at the O2, you ought to be physically and medically fit – if you’re pregnant it’s a no-no (but then, that should be obvious really). Also, you must:

be at least 10-years-old

be at least 1.2 metres tall

not weigh more than 21 stones (or 130kg/286lbs)

not have a waist measurement in excess of 125cm

not have an upper thigh measurement in excess of 75cm.

Anyone under 18-years-old has to be accompanied by an adult (one adult to every two children). Cameras, bags and personal items aren’t allowed – apart from essential medication – but mobile phones are allowed (not least so you might take snaps and selfies at the summit), so long as they’re carried in the pocket on your climb suit that’s intended for this purpose. All other belongings will have to be stashed in a locker during the climb itself.