Sunday, 13 July 2014

Abseiling down Earl's Court

Yesterday was the day of my sponsored abseil down the outside of the iconic Earl's Court. (If you missed it, something adventurous + something iconically London + something that helps London = my idea of heaven).

The information that I had been sent before hand stated that dressing up for the abseil was very much encouraged, provided the costume didn't interfere with the safety harness and helmet. Mainly out of laziness, I declined the opportunity to dress up, instead opting for my lion t-shirt from London Zoo and black trousers (they were new yesterday morning, if that counts as "making an effort"?).

Walking through Earl's Court station, I was beginning to feel like I had made a massive faux pas by not donning a costume. The outfits that we passed! Every superhero that I could name, and several I couldn't. And was that an actual SCYTHE that just walked past. Surely abseiling with something so dangerous attached throws up all sorts of health and safety issues?

Imagine my relief when we arrived outside Earl's Court and saw that Comic Con, the biggest gathering of comic book, fantasy and superhero fanatics known to mankind, was also taking place at Earl's Court that day, which explained the costumes.

When my turn came round, I got harnessed up and a group of four of us headed to the roof. Until this point, I'd been focused on the getting down, and hadn't really thought about how we'd get up to the roof - a behind the scenes lift soon solved that.
Once on the roof, the views were amazing. We were looking over (and abseiling down) the main facade of Earl's Court, on the main road, directly opposite the station. But the panoramic view let us see from Chelsea football club, all the way round to Wembley Stadium, with the rest of London's iconic structures in between. It's unusual to catch a great view of London from so far West, and interesting to see structures such as the Natural History Museum and Royal Albert Hall thrown into the foreground for once, instead of lost amongst the metal and glass further East.

We spent a good 45 minutes enjoying the view whilst the group in front of us did their thing. So far so good, it seemed to be going well, and I was excited for my turn. The first person to go from our group was a lady who was very scared of heights, but she seemed to set off successfully (once a person stepped over the edge, they disappeared almost immediately from our rooftop view.
Next up was a girl about my age. She hadn't admitted to being too nervous beforehand, but as she climbed up the ladder to the platform of doom, it was clear that she was shaking a lot. Part of the correct abseiling position is having your legs completely straight, but she was shaking so much, it took her a few minutes before her knees would actually straighten. Couple that with the next guy who stepped off and promptly chest-slammed into the building, winding himself, and by the time my go came around, I was feeling quite nervous.    
The worst thing was not the height. I was more than happy looking straight down at the ground 70ft below. The worst thing was putting my trust into the rope. As I leaned back over the edge, the rope was slack, and I had no idea how far back I would have to lean until it became taught, and no way to control my speed until that happened. On the first attempt, I freaked out when I leaned back and pulled myself back upright. Big mistake, as on my second attempt of leaning back, the rope was now looser than the first time, making it even scarier.

Once I'd stepped over the edge, I was on my way and it was all over relatively quickly and painlessly, although my legs were still like jelly for over an hour afterwards!

Massive thanks to everyone who sponsored me! The lions and I all appreciate it!

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