Conquering the O2

Date Posted: 25/07/2012

We came, we saw, we conquered. Rebekah Tailor and Claire Hughes climbed one of London’s most iconic landmarks as part of the new Up at The O2 experience.

First there was the London Eye, then more recently the Emirates Air Line. Now there’s Up at The O2 - the newest way to enjoy the capital’s iconic skyline from the pinnacle of one of its most iconic sites.

All three attractions can quite rightly boast spectacular views across London, but the similarities end here.

The expedition begins...

As I rocked up to The O2 on a day of rare sunshine, smartly attired and sporting canvas pumps, it soon became clear that I’d somewhat underestimated the physical exertion of this experience.

Navigating the heights of the domed roof of The O2 Arena, the ‘expedition’ leads you over a 320-metre-long walkway standing 52-metres above ground level at its highest point.

With an incline of 30 degrees at its steepest point, participants also have to contend with the slight bounce of the walkway, designed to replicate the surface of the tent.

Watching from the comfort of solid ground as another group ascended the roof, their progress was steady as they carefully made their way up to the top, harnessed in for safety and clothed in one-piece climb suits. This image was my first clue that this thrilling experience was perhaps more adventurous that I’d bargained for.

Base Camp

The Up at The O2 experience begins at Base Camp, as groups of 15 are fully briefed on what to expect via a fun and immersive video recording. It was here we met our guide Sean, who would lead the expedition.

Despite only opening on the 21st June, it’s already a slick operation and the group was kitted up quickly and efficiently in our flashy climb suits and safety harnesses.

Climb shoes are also available if like me your footwear proves completely inappropriate, and there’s a small pocket for a camera or phone to take the all-important shots from the top. Visitor interaction is also encouraged, via social networking from the summit or the climb cam.

The ascent

The majority of our 90-minute experience was spent on the ascent - an exciting climb with the minutes split between taking in the view, navigating the walkway and trying not to look down!

For me, this was the most challenging part of the experience, arguably because I hadn’t expected it to be quite so steep. It takes a little while to get to grips with the harness system, and coordinate this with side-stepping up, but once you’ve mastered that it’s no problem!

Although the climb is steeper than I’d anticipated, the experience is entirely manageable for the reasonably fit. It’s suitable for anyone over the height of 1.2-metres as well as children over the age of ten.

Scaling the summit

Reaching the summit is undoubtedly the highlight of the experience, and we were lucky to have sunshine and clear skies enhancing the fantastic views.

The summit is an observation platform, 12-metres in diameter, offering a 360-degree panorama of London and its landmarks.

Able to move freely, we moved around the platform to spot iconic sights such as Wembley Stadium, Canary Wharf and Historic Royal Greenwich, and new developments including Olympic Park and The Shard.

Remaining at the summit for about ten minutes - ample time to pose for some great photographs and take in the sights - it’s then time to be clipped back on to the safety rope for the descent.

Up at The O2 really is an exhilarating experience for groups. Although good weather inevitably enhances the view from the summit, the adventure of navigating the domed roof of the O2 plus the thrill of the descent, plays a big part - and sets it apart from any other London skyscape attraction.

Whenever I visit a new destination, I’m always the first to volunteer to climb the tallest tower, or the steepest hill - simply to admire the view and to gain a different perspective. Up at The O2 certainly offers both - but more than this, it’s the fun and thrill of the climb itself that presents something new and completely different.

Group booking information

Up at The O2 is currently taking group travel bookings up until July next year, giving group travel organisers plenty of time to plan their expedition. Group packages are available.

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