So last Monday I climbed over the O2 Arena in Greenwich to raise money for The Cinnamon Trust. And I am delighted to say that we raised £366.25 in total, which is a staggering amount and I thank everyone who donated to this cause. As some of you may know, I don’t particularly like heights, so this challenge was definitely one taking me out of my comfort zone. Luckily I had 2 friends joining me for support, which I was very grateful for.

As we drew up and the O2 came into sight, I was both excited and a little apprehensive, but knew I would be completing it, for myself and all the wonderful supporters who donated. That accountability helped. Once we had had the briefing, harness and shoe fitting, we had to climb a set of steps to reach the beginning of the climb. That staircase, being a spiral and up, and having a see-through floor, already began to disorientate me and I did wonder whether I had bitten off more than I could chew. But once we had attached our carabiner to the guideline over the O2, that was it. It was do or die, and hopefully not the second. I had joked all week, “come hell or high water’ I will be doing it, and I just hoped it wasn’t the latter! :D

My and my two friends before our O2 climb, standing at the bottom of the 1st section,a 28 degree inclined rubber walkway.

Onwards and Upwards!

The first section of the climb is a 28 degrees incline, and that and the next section took a lot of focus and strength, physically and mentally, to achieve. At one point, I could feel myself wanting to cry because I didn’t like it: my arms and legs were exhausted, and I wanted to go back, but knew I wouldn’t. It did cross my mind ‘why did I sign up to this!?!  mixed with a bout of frustration at myself. At times, when I became spatially aware, I started to feel that disorientation again, and I had to use my therapist knowledge and ground myself back to where I was, in my head reciting ‘there is only a walkway, that’s all there is, focus on that’. Positive self-talk featured for the climb up the O2 that’s for sure. Gravity worked against us, with my carabiner dropping back down as I climbed, and I also didn’t realise it would be like Krypton Factor where we needed to thread it through brackets, 40 in total – but hey it just adds to the challenge, doesn’t it.

Me and my two friends at the beginning of the climb over the O2 Arena. We are all standing diagonally on the rubber walkway in our harnesses and climbing shoes.

But once the sections started to level out a little, some of the physical endurance eased and my goal was to reach the viewing platform at the top.

And we did!! Yay!! My legs were a little wobbly, and it did take some time for that to settle. It felt like the hardest bit was done though, I’d made it! After a hug with a friend, I had a drink, enjoyed the scenic views over London and the River Thames, and of course took some photos. Originally, our Guide was going to unstrap me from the harness to take the photo with my Cinnamon Trust vest on, however, by this time, the weather had changed and it was relatively windy and cold, so we decided instead to be ‘superwoman’ as you see in the accompanying photo.

Just as we were being advised it would be a few minutes before our departure down, I could hear this rather ominous sound (a bit like a deep repeating sound of a ship’s horn). It turned out to be the wind rushing through the floor grates, but I joked with our Guide that they might as well play the Jaws music, as it was so foreboding, and didn’t really instill me with much calm!

Picture of the O2 Arena from the top of the viewing platform down the rubber walkway, with The River Thames and London Skyline in the background.

It’s Downhill All The Way!

The descent however was much easier, because you already know you have gone to the highest point and it’s downhill (in a nice way) from there. Fortunate enough for our party to be at the back of the group on the descent, I was easily striding along and looking around as we walked down….until we hit the very last section of the climb. This I later found out was a 30 degrees decline.

I was offered the option of walking backwards by our Guide. I tried it. Nope, that was not happening! It didn’t feel safe. So, I tried front, and….nope, that also didn’t feel good. So I had a few moments where the thoughts of ‘I’m stuck. We’ll just stay here indefinitely’ came in, but of course, I knew I had to do one or the other. I chose to walk forwards, and after taking it carefully, I walked off the walkway a matter of minutes afterwards.

Just as it started to spit with rain!

Although I felt bad for everyone who was going up next, I was so glad it didn’t rain whilst we were climbing. It rained before, and it rained after, but not during…so someone up there was definitely looking down on us. And I saw plenty of familiar signs to say just that.

It was a massive achievement, and I would definitely consider doing it again. But next time, I would make tweaks to my pre-climb prep, and also I would like to be more present on the viewing platform too. And, there may be a part of me that would like to take a photo sitting on the platform cross-legged in the OM position…just because ;)

It’s Outside of Our Comfort Zone That We Find Growth!

But it felt good to do something well outside of my comfort zone. To push myself. To realise I had more strength than I thought. That you can accomplish anything with the right support around you and within you. It changed my perspective on various things in my life, in just that hour’s climb. Things like why am I holding myself back from living my dreams, my passions. And I have already started to make progress with those. So you go through a kind of spiritual transformation and inner reflection without even realising you’re doing it.

And when we step out of our comfort zone, if we do it enough, that then becomes our comfort zone as we explore life more deeply. I would do it again, but am also considering a building abseil for next year. Time will tell!

#pushyourself #stretchthatcomfortzone #varietyisthespiceoflife