Monica: Woop woop, the day I had been so excited about for the past week, Sunday 22 March 2015 had arrived, the day I freefall abseiled down the ArcelorMittal Orbit, James Bond styley. And to add to the excitement I would be sharing the moment with fellow ONIN reviewer Martin Stocks. The day was set to be awesome!!
Martin: Although I’d woken up with a stonking headache after a few too many… tomato juices the night before; I knew this day would be an excellent one. As I arrived into Stratford I immediately saw the imposing ArcelorMittal Orbit dominating the skyline. I yelped out-loud at its size and at the thought of walking off the top of it.
Monica: The adrenaline began pumping early for me as I had no idea how to access the monumental structure – typical of me not being able to find a 115m high bright red sculpture – and found myself running around Stratford Westfield to get there on time. After stopping and asking a trusted bobby on the beat for directions I was set on the right path and sprinted to the location where this awesome feat was set to take place.
Of course Martin was already there when I arrived, harnessed up, smiling and ready to rock not roll haha. Once harnessed and duly safety kitted up we were shepherded into the lift where we ascended to the Orbit summit. The views from the top were simply remarkable – we were lucky enough to be graced with clear skies that revealed London’s spectacular skyline.
Martin: Waiting at the top of this huge structure you really feel every small breeze of wind. I mistakenly glanced down to the floor hundreds of feet below, which was a bad decision. I chatted with Monica, who seemed to have no nerves whatsoever, and watched the people ahead of us lean back from the edge and slowly descend. The look of fear on their faces taking that first step was priceless… Until I remembered I would shortly be doing the same thing.
I pretended to be a gentleman and allowed Monica to go first. If she would’ve refused I may well have pushed her forward anyway. My chivalry/ cowardice knows no limits.
Monica: I was pumped – bouncing of the walls – well bouncing up and down like Tigger on a sugar high. Ross my safety instructor took me through one last safety check and then proceeded to talk me through the process required to make my descent as fast or as slow as I wanted it to be. After about 5 mins that was it. I was instructed to take a few steps back until my heels were hanging off the edge of the metal platform. Ross then instructed me to lean back so that my body formed an ‘L’ shape. I was then asked to push off and plant my feet firmly on the panel underneath the platform, and when ready just let go – so that’s what I did!! I gave a full commentary all the way down which unfortunately was not captured as my GoPro decided to only take stills and not film footage – what a bummer. Would have so loved you guys to have seen what I had seen as I had seen it.
Martin: It’s hard to describe how strange it felt to lean backwards off the edge of this building, although you know you’re roped up. As I was doing this I suddenly noticed a crowd pointing and laughing at me through the window. I could only assume they thought I looked so much cooler and more daring that the others and they were laughing at the cowardice of the others.
The point when you take your leap of faith and start swinging freely was the scariest and most exciting moment. You also tend to rotate freely on your descent, which gives you an amazing view of London. About halfway down I found myself guessing how many seconds it would take to reach the floor if the ropes suddenly snapped. What a terrible thought to have! Needless to say there are 3 ropes supporting you and it’s perfectly safe.
I thoroughly enjoyed the descent and as soon as I reached the floor I wanted to do it again. It was an amazing experience and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.
Monica: Needless to say I enjoyed every minute of this adventure and would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I wanted to run straight back up and do it again. There were other thrill seekers being harnessed up that I just stood watching in envy trying to figure out a way to get back to the summit unnoticed – unfortunately I was unable to figure out a plan in time…boo!
The ArcelorMittal Orbit Abseiling Experiences can be booked by telephone – 0333 800 8099, online or from the ticket office at the base of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Booking in advance is required.