Up At The O2 is an exhilarating climbing experience in London that allows you to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city like never before with their daytime, sunset and twilight climbs taking tours of the iconic skyline every fifteen minutes of the day!
Boasting a 360 degree view of historic Greenwich, The Olympic Park and Canary Wharf it was my mother who suggested our whole family harness up and hit the clouds to celebrate life after she survived stage three bowel cancer and a brain aneurism surgery and has since found an absolutely unquenchable desire for being alive and pushing her physical limits.
The minimum age of climbers is 8yrs with a minimum height restriction of 1.2m and adult supervision which meant that my 1.4m 10yr old son Gabriele could participate much to his delight.
Up At The O2 is situated at the O2 arena which is filled with restaurants, shops and entertainment facilities so it was super convenient for us all to hop on the underground and grab a coffee and a snack prior to arriving 15mins early for our slot as advised.
We scanned our tickets at the arrival deskwhich were emailed to us upon booking online and ensured that we’d all completed the online waiver form prior to attending. Seeing as all belongings are stowed in lockers on ground level and mobile phones can only be taken in a zipped pocket or pouch we were asked if we’d like to purchase drinks for our arrival on the viewing platform as well as photos taken by a photographer.
From a choice of water, fizzy drink or champagne we were given the relevant coloured wrist bands before being shown into a viewing room to watch the safety briefing video. We had around thirty people in our group at 13:15pm on a Saturday which seemed to be their peak time as it was a case of one-in-one-out for tours which take place every 15mins.
After the short safety video we were taken to the locker rooms where we were sized up for a harness, given crates to store our belongings and take a final trip to the washroom before the climb. Seeing as it was a super hot summers day we all had a final sip of our personal drinks before packing up our bags.
We were then led outside to the base of the dome where our instructor demonstrated how to step into and adjust the harness and connection hook that keeps each climber tethered to the suspended walkway. We were then check over one by one before being allowed into a stairway that took us up to a photography platform where the climb began.
As we’d paid for photos to be taken, we were asked to line up in front of the start of the walkway with the dome behind us to pose for family snaps. This was then followed by a few pictures taken on the start of the climb as we ascended before the photographer returned to the photography platform to take pictures of the next group.
Mobile phones are only allowed to be used at the platform on the peak of the dome and not during the climb itself incase they are dropped, so it was nice to have group pictures taken by a photographer of us starting our climb. The entire process from start to finish took around 90mins which was around 15mins in preparation, 30mins ascending, around 15mins on the peak viewing platform to have drinks and a further 30mins descent and belongings retrieval before a final photo opportunity in a green screen booth, collecting our belongings from the lockers, returning our harnesses and visiting the gift shop. It’s a lot to squeeze in and passes very quickly.
The walkway is a rubbery trampoline like material which is quite springy and bounces slightly as each person walks. On one side of the walkway our group of climbers were attached by a cable that could only be unhooked when you reach the summit. On the other side of the walkway two instructors led and followed the front and back of the queue to ensure that everybody was comfortable and could keep up.
Alongside my cancer surviving mother and enthusiastic son were a family with a blind grandparent who was so inspiring and so our group was a mix of all ages, abilities and stories which was lovely to be a part of and meet our fellow climbers. The ascent was very warm in the midday sun and at times you may need to hold onto the hand rail to pull yourself up the thirty degree incline, but once you reach the top the views are absolutely stunning.
We sipped champagne, took selfies, admired the unobstructed panoramic view of the city and spent a few minutes soaking up the atmosphere – as well as celebrating our climbing achievement – before making our descent. We were advised that we can walk down backwards if it’s easier on toes which I chose to do as I had trainers on rather than the optional climbing shoes provided.
The instructors and staff were so friendly, helpful, knowledgable and professional throughout, keeping everything running perfectly on time whilst checking in on each climber throughout, pointing out landmarks and ensuring that we all received our drinks and followed the safety guidelines.
It’s safe to say that heading back down to ground level is a far quicker leg of the journey and by the time that I reached the bottom my legs were suitably shaky from using my quads and calves as if I’d been for a session at the gym. My 14yr old daughter isn’t fond of heights but soon overcame her fear and felt a great sense of achievement because of it. My autistic son found it absolutely fascinating and physically rewarding and wanted to go back up to the top to see if he could beat the time. I loved the freedom of climbing into the clouds and Mum is suitably using her bragging rights to show that beating cancer is only the beginning of her bucket list.
We finished our experience by posing in front of a green screen in our harnesses for our photo package bundle, which cost about the same as an additional ticket but included two printed pictures, a keyring and every image as a digital download which was a very reasonable price compared to that of a themepark photo package.
We had such a wonderful time climbing the O2 as a family group of five adults and two children, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and spent the rest of the day enjoying the city, eating, walking and chatting about our favourite parts and pictures that we will cherish for a lifetime and forever feel inspired to reach for the stars and embrace life for the true blessing and miracle that it is.