Climbing the O2 in London


The formerly known as the Millennium Dome, it's impossible to miss The O2. Distinguishable by its circular shape, 365m diameter to be precise, the iconic blue dome is surrounded by 12 yellow spires, and is one of the largest of its type found anywhere in the world.
Easily spotted from the city's many skyscrapers and also from the air, The O2 has become one of the United Kingdom's most recognisable sights.
After the safety video, the climbing safety team will supply you with a gillet or jumpsuit (depending on the weather), climbing shoes and a safety harness before securing any valuables in a locked box during the climb. The harness is the type you step into, so be sure to wear trousers, jeans or long shorts. Shoes are provided but you'll need to have your own socks!
Our climb guide talked our group through the specifics of the harness and locking system, which keeps you safely attached to the climbing cable throughout the entire climb. Nervous climbers are reassured that there's no need to disconnect from the safety wire as your harness and lock is always attached.
The dome-shaped canopy is supported by a cable network attached to the twelve yellow masts. The surface has the feel of a bouncy castle crossed with a trampoline. At this stage, the temptation to bounce is incredibly high!
At an incline of roughly 30°, the first 20m of the ascent is the steepest, after which it does flatten out giving the climbers a chance to catch their breath.
Note, the smaller your climbing group, the faster you’ll climb. The benefit being more time you will get at the flat viewing platform at the top of the O2 to take photos… and catch your breath.
Also visible from the top of the O2, is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Historically significant, it’s the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Time plays a significant role in the design of O2 with hours, days, weeks and months are represented in The O2s design. These details are easily missed, but once you know it, you can tell it’s not-so-subtle nod to the Prime Meridian, longitude 0°, which passes the western edge of The O2.
There are twelve yellow 100 metre-high masts supporting the O2 each representing each month of the year and each hour on a clock. It’s also no accident that the walkway is 52m above the ground, or that the O2 has a circumference of 365m, representing each day of a calendar year.
I’m a plus-size woman with a sedentary office job, on top of that, I often battle with lower limb inflammation. I don’t hike, and I would confidently say I’m a long way from “fit”. If I can do it, you can do it. It’s significantly easier and less scary than climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Yes! You can take your mobile phone, GoPro or small compact camera as long as it zipped up in a pocket of your gillet/jumpsuit during the climb. From personal experience, phones smaller than Samsung Note 8 or iPhone XS Max will just fit with effort but nothing bigger.
Taking photos during the ascent and descent is not permitted but there are plenty of opportunities to take photos once you reach the viewing platform.