10 Jul Up at the O2 Review: Climbing The O2 in London
Living in London I’m obviously familiar with The O2 – it is the UK’s number one music and entertainment venue and has played host to many famous music acts over the years. The last time I went to The O2 I saw Ed Sheeran in concert, but this time I was invited to visit for an entirely different reason – to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Up at the O2 – a 90 minute urban mountaineering adventure that involves climbing over the roof of The O2 via a fabric walkway.
London has no shortage of interesting sights and attractions – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge…but sometimes it’s difficult to find something to do that feels exciting and different. Whenever visitors come to see me I usually take them to a rooftop bar, but even that can feel a little bit “samey” when you’ve been been to rooftop bars in cities all over the world. So I was excited to get my adrenaline pumping and try something a bit different by scaling one of Britain’s iconic landmarks.
Being a little afraid of heights I felt slightly nervous, but when I learnt that half a million people have already experienced Up at The O2, including celebrities such as Ant & Dec, Rudimental, Sam Smith, Pixie Lott and 30 Seconds to Mars, I realised it if they can do it – so can I.
Climbing The O2
On the day of the climb it is 32 degrees celsius (90 in Farenheit), one of the record hottest days of the year. I call up The O2 ahead of time to ask what I should wear since it’s absolutely sweltering outside. Shorts and T-shirt it is.
As I make my way to North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line, I’m sweating profusely wondering why the London Underground hasn’t been air conditioned, but I’m ready to brave the heat and feel excited about what’s in store.
On emerging from North Greenwich station I look up to see the enormousness of The O2 and for a second I wonder what I’ve taken on.
I present my ticket, and I’m guided to an air conditioned room to complete the group safety briefing. We sign on the dotted line, then our Climbing Guide walks in to introduce himself and play a short video. The music starts pumping to get us all excited, and we learn some quick facts about The O2.
Suspended 2m above the surface of The O2 roof, the walkway is 52m above ground level and 380m long. At its steepest point the walkway has an incline of 28° on the way up and 30° on the way back down and has a slight bounce to it to mirror the surface of the tent. We are going to climb over this walkway to see 360 degree views of London.
The next stage of the process is the changing room. Each person is given a vest, a safety harness and special boots to put on. We put our personal items into blue boxes – the only thing we take with us is our mobile phones or a small compact camera, which can fit into the pocket of the vest.
Next up it’s the climb. We ascend a flight of stairs, then a photographer takes our photographs at Base Camp. From now on we cannot use our mobile phones or cameras until we get to the viewing platform, so they must stay safely inside our pockets.
Our Climbing Instructor shows us how to use the climbing equipment – we are attached to a wire and must hold onto our safety clip, pulling it along with us as we climb. The walkway is bouncy and feels steep to begin with, so for second vertigo starts to kick in. But once I’ve completed this short first section we take a break to admire the views and suddenly I begin to relax.
Our guide points out areas of London and various landmarks on the horizon, before we continue the journey up the side of The O2. From here on the walkway isn’t as steep and I soon get into the swing of things, quickly making it to the summit and the viewing platform.
Today it’s hazy because the weather is so hot, but the view is still beautiful and there’s a breeze in the air to cool us down. Up here you have 360 degree panoramic views, and while there’s a lot of construction going on in this part of London (I’m told due to Chinese investment), I actually prefer this view to most of the rooftop views in London.
We have a decent amount of time to take photos and ask our guide any burning questions we may have. It’s nice and peaceful, and I suddenly feel quite proud of myself for making it to the top. The climb may not be difficult (children as young as 9 can do this), but I still feel a certain sense of achievement.
The way down is a little bit easier since we have gravity to help us. The first part is less of an incline so I go down facing forward, but the last part is steeper so I go down backwards.
I felt a tremendous sense of achievement when I reached the viewing platform and could feel the adrenaline pumping through my body for a couple of hours afterwards. Up at The O2 is an activity I would never have thought about doing, but to my surprise, I actually really loved it. If you’re visiting London this summer and looking for something different to do, this is definitely it. There are climbs during the day, at sunset or at twilight, so if you’re out sightseeing for the day then you could easily fit this into your itinerary.
To mark the birthday, families or friends of five looking for an adventure-packed day out in capital will be offered a free climb for the fifth member. To claim, just use the code BIRTHDAY at checkout. You can book tickets and learn more about Up at The O2 here: https://tickets.aegeurope.com/upattheo2/climbs.html