Sunday, 13 February 2011

Clic Sargent Charity Abseil - I Really Hate Heights....

It’s a cold and windy day in Lowestoft and I find myself standing 100ft in the air on the side of Orbis Energy on a 4inch slither of wood, what was I thinking............ 

100ft doesn't sound that much, but close up......
As you may (or may not) know I have a (rather large) fear of heights, as such the thought of being suspended from the side of a building by a small rope wasn’t an instantly appealing thought, I was however talked into it, the best way to face fear is head on as they say, and anyway, it’s for charity!! 

Today started out like any other, the main difference to normal was at some point after 2pm I’d be walking down the side of a building. 

So, we’re at Orbis, located in the shadow of ‘Gulliver’ the Lowestoft Wind Turbine, it’s cold and slightly overcast, oh why couldn’t it have been a sunny day, it would have helped my confidence!! 

Worryingly enough when I first arrived I missed where the actual abseil was taking place, on second view the small ominous wooden board gave away its location, having seen where the abseil would take place my initial confidence had a bit of a ‘wobble’....... 

Several cups of tea later (you all know, tea cures everything!!) we’re up on the 4th floor of Orbis ready for harness fitting and abseil training. At this point I was asked if I’d rather just prefer to use the Tardis to go from the roof to the ground, but after some thought decided that would be cheating so I’d use a rope like everyone else. 

What part of this was a good idea??
The harness was two parts, the first part wrapped round the thighs and waist, at this point I discovered what women in history felt like wearing a corset!! 

Tom: Is that tight on your waist? 
Me: Yes! 
Tom: Let’s get it a little tighter..... 
Me: Urgh..... 

Second part was a nice over the shoulder jacket sort of thing, with that the harness was on..... 

Now, a problem, Abseiling requires the wearing of a helmet, this would be very un-fringe friendly!!! Oh well, needs must!! 

So fully kitted up it’s time for Abseil training (see the video). The nerves again at this point were beginning to make their presence shown....... 

Training complete, it was time to head to the roof, Ali (my partner in crime for the day) was to go first..... 

For those of you who aren't familiar with an abseil, it kind of works in three stages: 

Stage 1: Getting onto the edge of the roof 
Stage 2: Standing on a tiny bit of wood and leaning back..... 
Stage 3: Walk down wall!! 

Ali successfully managed all three parts, the hardest are definitely the first two!! 

So with Ali safely down it was my turn.... (gulp). 

Converse. Foot ware for all occasions!!
Now I had a minor (well, I say minor) problem. I’m left handed. This meant that all the ropes were backwards, as a result it made it not possible to fully clip me up until I was on the wooden ledge (feel quite ill thinking back about it!!). So the safety line was tied on to my harness I then had to clamber onto the previously mentioned wooden ledge, at this point Sarah (the abseil technician) had to clip my main rope to my harness, at this point I’m holding onto the wall with, what can only be described as a death grip!! 

With all ropes fitted I could then begin the task of leaning back to begin the decent, at which point I realised I had a second problem, as the ropes were all backwards the safety rope had crossed the main rope tangling my hand in them..... So dangling from the top of the building I had to quickly let go with one hand to let the ropes sort themselves, I’ve never moved so fast in my life!!! 

This is why when you watch the video I’m at the top of the abseil for what seems like ages!! 

The decent itself went without any real drama. Yay for converse, they’ll grip anything!!! 

So successfully back on terra firma, I’d done it, I’d abseiled 100ft off the side of a building and gone some way to getting over my fear of heights. 

And best of all I’d raised money for charity in doing so, which is a good result all round. 

Don’t forget, my online sponsor page will remain open for about two weeks, so if you do still want to donate you can at