You can abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit at the Olympic Park from next year

The 80 metre high edge of the iconic sculpture offers incredible views of the capital

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The Independent Travel

The ArcelorMittal Orbit was one of the icons of the 2012 Olympics and from next year the public will be able to abseil down it for the first time. The sculpture, which was commissioned by Mayor Boris Johnson and designed by Turner-Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, divides opinion. Britain’s largest piece of public art has been compared to a DNA structure, a twisted roller coaster or some sort of helterskelter to varying levels of acclaim and ridicule.

One thing it certainly is is tall - a fact I was incredibly aware of as I put on my harnesses before ascending. Six Angels of the North would need to stand upon one another to reach the height of the Orbit whilst the viewing platform from which the abseil begins is 80 metres above ground.

The viewing platform offers incredible views of the capital - with The Gherkin, St. Pauls, Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium, as well as the world-famous sporting venues of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park all there to be seen. However, despite all the sights, the fact I would be using a rope to descend the sculpture rather the elevator in which I had come up wasn’t far from my mind.

When it was time to go, the warm, windowed confines of the viewing platform - which is already open to the public - were departed in order to step outside and into the elements. With the wind feeling a little stronger than it had 80 metres below, the distance between myself and the ground came sharply into focus. Thankfully, the two instructors were fantastic, and their calm explanation of what was what and how the abseil would work managed to put me at ease. They had literally talked me on to a ledge. And then it was time to go over it.

Backing into the abyss was terrifying - had my grip been on one of the steel poles that make up the ArcelorMittal Orbit, rather than the rope, it’s quite possible I would have made a permanent dent. Ultimately, climbing out of a window at that height with only a couple of ropes to stop you from falling is lunacy - yet incredibly thrilling.

The sculpture was not designed to be abseiled down and doesn’t have a specifically designed platform from which to drop, meaning the sculpture has to be negotiated at the early stages of the descent. It felt like a challenge. But having passed the steel beams that make up the sculpture, it was then into the very big open space between the top and bottom and an opportunity to appreciate those views once more - from a perspective that was singularly mine. The instructors said it normally takes between eight to 12 minutes and as I descended it was a conundrum on whether to lower myself quickly for the thrill of the ride, or take my time and take it all in.

The experience adds another element to the consistently developing Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as more of it opens up the public, a process which will only accelerate in the run-up to West Ham United moving into the Olympic Stadium. With the buzzword for the Games being legacy, this is another attraction that the public would have never been able to enjoy without it, and adds to the burgeoning number of experiences in the capital of a similar ilk, such as the nearby Up at The O2 and Emirates Air Line.

Perhaps this is only one for those unafraid of heights, but for those with the stomach for it, having gone from the top of the Orbit back to Earth I can say the bit in the middle is out of this world.

The abseiling experiences will be on 18 April, 27 June, 11 July, 8 August and 19 September 2015 and groups can book privately on selected dates. The experience will cost £85, or £130 to include a GoPro to record the descent and a t-shirt

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