Video: Abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park

Reporter Mark Shales prepares to abseil down Stratford's ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Reporter Mark Shales prepares to abseil down Stratford's ArcelorMittal Orbit. - Credit: Mikael Buck

Of all the ways to spend a grey Friday morning in Stratford, plummeting down the ArcelorMittal Orbit is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Is that Spiderman, or is it just the window cleaner?

Is that Spiderman, or is it just the window cleaner? - Credit: Mikael Buck

Designed by Sir Anish Kapoor to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, its memorable appearance has made it an icon not just of the Games but of the London skyline as a whole.

Standing proud at 114.5m – 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty – the UK’s tallest sculpture is crafted from 2,000-tonnes of steel.

I pick out various landmarks while waiting on the outside viewing platform. Suddenly the gravity of the situation (if you’ll excuse the pun)was starting to become all too apparent.

“If you just want to stand over there,” instructor, Ian Loombe told me after harnessing me up.

Back on solid ground.

Back on solid ground. - Credit: Mikael Buck

“Here?” I replied, suddenly forgetting how to stand up.

“A bit further. Right on the edge.”

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Gently lowering myself into the classic abseiling pose with feet on the edge, I immediately regretted the obligatory glance down.

After a few hairy minutes posing for photographs – I don’t think the forced smile will fool anyone – it was time to start the descent.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK�s tallest sculpture, is launching new abseiling experiences for 2015

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, the UK�s tallest sculpture, is launching new abseiling experiences for 2015. - Credit: Mikael Buck

Although people had told me beforehand going over the edge is the worst bit, seconds later I found out they were wrong.

Two red girders, forming part of the Orbit’s iconic spiral, directly block the way requiring abseilers to navigate over and around.

Easing down, I found myself standing upright once more with just a foot of steel between me and the ground, feeling like an early 1930s New York construction worker atop the Empire State Building.

Although safely strapped to the rope, body now vertical, there was no escape from looking down, so I quickly moved onto the second obstacle and continued the descent.

Helplessly dangling in midair, it just didn’t feel real, as if the ground and I were two very separate things that would never meet again as I began to enjoy the exceptional views.

There are taller structures in London but few are better situated to offer such incredible panoramas across the capital and beyond.

For those daring – or mad – enough to try it, abseiling will take place on April 18, June 27, July 11, August 8, and September 19 2015.

Prices start at £85 per person, rising to £130 for those recording it on a GoPro camera – while all participants must be aged 18. Visit arcelormittalorbit.com for more.

Read more:

ArcelorMittal Orbit to open to public in MarchVideo: exclusive performance by multi award-winning phenomenon STOMP at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit

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