Arcelormittal Orbit - Abseil or Freefall?!


OH MAN, they aren't even touching the side of the building?!

Woah, what an experience👊. You know I've been building up to this for months. The Optical recruitment team Vivid Optical, had reached out to me a few months ago to join the descent. And although it was completely out of my comfort zone... it was for a good cause! If you know optics, you'll have heard of Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. Alongside many others in the field, Moorfields do some incredible research.

After stuffing my face at various different London eateries, it was D-day. Time to face the orbit. I'm trying this new thing where I ignore any nerves/anxiety/fear, up until right at the moment, when I have to do the thing. *This is how I learnt to do it* So, I'm basically making my way from West London to the complete opposite side of the tube map - all the while, completely chilled. Like seriously, I was stone cold (Steve Austin lol). I couldn't believe it, what had happened to me?!

Arriving into Stratford, I had to nervous pee. Ah, here it comes. There's the Erica I know. My uncle couldn't help but to rip into me, "scared now?!" Hahaha. Joker 😒. We were on time, so questioned getting a quick coffee pick up me - but probably not the best idea. Thinking of the spectators below me, when my nerves may or may not take a complete hold over my bodily functions. Sorry, graphic, I know. Walking up to the orbit, it grew larger and larger. We navigated our way through the Queen's Olympic park to the entrance.

Wait. Hang on. Are they... they're not even touching the side of the building🤣! Are you for real?? I thought this was an abseil not a freaking free fall?! *Okay Erica, be chill. This is happening either way. Too late now girl. Think of the kids!*

You know that moment where you just think, "What have I done🤔?" Yeah....

I met the others in my group and the Vivid Optical team! It's always nice to put faces to the names! Everyone was looking a little nervy, glad I wasn't alone but hey.. it's going to be fun😅! The view will be great! 😶Just think of the view.

We signed the necessary paperwork, you know like in case you suffer any injuries or fall to your death, they wouldn't liable. Standard collateral. Heading backstage, we were met by two staff in hard hats. Any spares going? On the floor, our harnesses were laid out, ready and waiting. We were asked to step behind them, into them and pull them up and over our heads. One by one, we were instructed to fasten the ties and tuck away any excess string. Obviously, that also meant a massive supply of hair ties for me. They even offered an extra hand, tucking it down into my coat. Safety first! Afro later.

It's go time. Walking to the lift, a lull of silence came over the group. It took us from the ground all the way up, stopping to let some other, more sane people, out to the helter skelter level - they got to slide down! I know, how cool is that?! Some of the group started looking out the window, checking out the view and scoping the approaching situation😵. NAH. Allow that, I'm never looking down or I wont go down. I'm going to tackle this blindly.

The doors slowly crept open and the steward asked "So... who's going first?" SILENCE.

Serious. That actually happened. I was about to go 1st! My logic was that the unknown, would be better. If I saw someone else go over the edge, I'd freak out more. Just rip the band aid off. Leggooo! We strutted to the platform, what other way to go than with confidence? It was an incredible surreal feeling to be up that high, almost like on a balcony but with no barriers?! Health and safety, what?!

The guys at the top, who would secure our harnesses to the structure of ropes and sky wires, were such a laugh. "We've been up here all day, we have to have a laugh." Rightly so, imagine dealing with super anxious customers all day. Must take its toll. It was funny, but omg. I was so scared, now is not the time for jokes Collin! He asked me to put my heels over the edge... Yeah, easy. Sure. 😶 


-Now lean over the edge.
I'm sorry what? 
-That's it, keep shuffling yourself off.
The side of a building, what?! 
-Now I need you to ease yourself down and let go of the ropes. Stop holding them to tightly!
Sorry Colin! But I'm not about to let go of the rope that is keeping me alive. (Slightly dramatic)
-Yeah, I know you've only just met me, but you have to trust me.
I have trust issues!
- This isn't counselling, let go!

Hahaha, actual account of what happened up at 400ft. Once I lowered myself over the edge, swinging above the Olympic park that I once worked in 5 years ago. I remembered all the things I loved and will miss. I'm just playing. Once I was over, it was amazing. After the initial fear of physically putting yourself, in what your brain would think of as 'danger', it's amazing! My heart left my throat and returned to its home. The butterflies stopped and my eyes were in awe. The view was amazing. The wind blew me around in different directions, so I could survey the landscape. Wow. The system allowed 2 down at a time, so I was soon joined by a friend. Gurpeet and I had a casual chat about Optom and pre-reg as we got lower and lower. So cas-(ual).

Pointing out the Gherkin and the shard we all too soon hit the ground and were met by a team of photographers. Well 3. My Uncle, cousin and Vivid's ha. We posed and couldn't believe how quickly it all went! Months of planning, fundraising and here we are. Back on the ground. Time flies...

It was awesome. We checked in with the Moorfields team to thank them and let them know how it went. We raised over £14,800 that day! Ch'ya, some serious funds!

Thank you all so much for your support, kind words and donations! It really was such a memorable day and I met some fantastic people. If you ever have a chance to do something crazy - block out the fear and just go for it.

Until next time ... A more grounded, Erica xo

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