Breaking Travel News investigates: Abseiling the ArcelorMittal Orbit

“I’m sure it didn’t used to be this tall?”

“Was it this big when I visited for the London Olympics back in 2012?”

These were the thoughts running through my head as I walked toward the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the stunning sculpture at the heart of what is now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

I recalled a much smaller artwork; not the steel and glass giant reaching toward the sky like a modern-day Jacob’s Ladder.

But there it was, all 114-metres of it, and I had to jump off the top of it.

The idea comes from Wire & Sky, pioneers of the urban aerial adventure concept, who are this year giving people the chance to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience as they abseil down the outside of the iconic structure.

The latest for urban thrill seekers.

Approaching the reception I was apprehensive, but seeing young teenagers coming down laughing during their abseil put my mind at rest.

“It’s only the tallest sculpture in the UK, how hard could it be?”

At reception you sign a quick waiver form, before heading to the base-station.

Here you are strapped into a convincingly secure harness, before being whisked to the top of the structure in a lift.

Participants can enjoy unrivalled 20-mile views across the city and beyond from the top of ArcelorMittal Orbit, taking in the whole of London.

But there is not much time for reflection.

After a short wait, I am called forward for my turn.


Too late to turn back…

It’s clear the polite instructors have seen it all before as I inch forward gingerly, wondering if it is too late to turn back.

Clipped in to the ropes the chance to flee is missed and I step outside the tower’s viewing platform to begin dramatic 80-metre descent.

The highly-trained Wire & Sky instructors guide me every step of the way, providing expert tuition and preparation.

The abseil utilises the safest triplicate rigging systems available, while it has been painstakingly designed to ensure maximum fun in a safe and controlled environment.

But is it enough?


Don’t look down…

I slowly lean back and step off the edge as slowly as possible.

And then, bang, in a flash, I am floating above the ground in absolute serenity.

It’s wonderful.

Feeding the rope through the mechanism I am able to control the speed of my descent, slowly moving toward the ground below as I take in the views all around.

After perhaps three minutes, all too quickly, it’s over and I am back on the ground.

With the experience behind me I wonder what I was so scared about in the first place!

Luckily, I can relive my epic adventure with GoPro footage from a special helmet camera, so I can see my finest hour again and again.

More Information

Wire & Sky is the leading urban aerial adventure company in the UK.

In addition to the ArceloMittal Orbit abseil they also offer participants the opportunity to climb to the summit of the O2 Arena and zip line across the legendary pitch at Wembley Stadium.

The ArceloMittal Orbit abseil is open to both individuals and groups to enjoy and there are also special Twilight Abseils available so participants can experience the sun setting as they make their descents.

Find out more here.

Chris O’Toole