I am scared of heights.
This was somewhat cured by a British cavalry officer, or as I knew them in those days, a ‘snotty-nosed ponce’.
It was called “abseiling”, which meant walking over a cliff with a rope around your waist. One hand works the rope behind you, and the other holds the rope to keep you upright and balanced. You can “jump-walk” your way down a cliff, or if you are under an overhang, you can lower yourself down through the air until you reach something solid, like the ground. Preferably slowly.
Even with a well-secured rope it takes a lot of imagination to walk over a cliff, a good fifty feet in this case, so I was quite reluctant to do so.
Enter the snotty one, calling me a coward in front of my mates and annoying me immensely. However, one cannot talk back at officers as they have awesome powers, such as “Sergeant! Arrest that man!”
So, I backed away from him until I realized that I was leaning out so far over the edge that without the rope, I would already have fallen. That left nothing to do except go all the way down to the bottom.
I enjoyed it immensely, and promptly ran all the way around and back up to the top so I could do it again.
The CN Tower’s “Edgewalk” is probably off-limits to me as squatting is out of the question. Even bending is difficult and painful. And, my hip operation earlier this year probably counts as a ‘recently broken bone’, so my chances are not good, at least for now.
However, I would love to try that, and not just in memory of the cavalry officer and his wise prodding. Years ago I was briefly acquainted with one-time Canadian Airborne paratrooper Bill Eustace, who earned his place in history by jumping off the top of the CN Tower with a parachute, narrowly missing the revolving restaurant on the way down.
It would be interesting to get an idea of what he saw, and to appreciate his bravery.
If they will let me!
CN tower’s Edgewalk: There’s nothing like living on the edge
Katie Daubs: July 27th, 2011
As a reporter who once cried in the newsroom and gags at the smell of mustard, I was assumed to be a solid candidate to write about the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk.
Surely Daubs will fall apart.
“You are the scardiest cat,” my editor said.
Imagine his disappointment when he discovered that I live life on the edge every single day.
I don’t golf during electrical storms, but I’ll try anything that can be classified as “corporate teambuilding” or “heavily insured.” (Axe throwing, trust exercises, and tap dance, for instance.) I also like heights.
The EdgeWalk, 356 metres above the city, is CN Tower’s latest way for people with $175 to be inducted into an “exclusive” group of thrill seekers. The media moseyed around the perimeter of the tower on Wednesday to test the harnesses, in advance of the public opening Monday.
“I hope they know what they’re doing,” co-workers said, hoping to scare me into a heartfelt narrative about overcoming fears.
Comforted by the fact that it would be a PR disaster if I plummeted to my death, nothing could deter me.
Just after lunch, I make the ascent to the EdgeWalk’s base camp which, like all of the world’s base camps, is a few metres away from a well-stocked souvenir shop. I sign a waiver acknowledging that the activity “may cause serious personal injury and even death.”
A few print reporters and photographers are in the group, and we are briefed in a room that looks like part of the Ghostbusters set, with snazzy red adult onesies hanging on a rack. Breathalyzers are administered to make sure no one is on a bender. It’s the kind of thing that has everyone feeling like a criminal. Then, cell phones and notepads are swabbed for explosives by smiling guides.
Like any assignment, I have come prepared. I have not recently broken any bones, as that would bar my entrance. I even eschewed poppy seed bagels to make sure I didn’t smell like an opium den.
Rob Ng (“Like steal-ing,” he says) introduces himself. He is the former associate manager of guest services turned EdgeWalk guru, and he checks our shoes to make sure they’re tight, like in kindergarten. The only thing I can bring is my eyeglasses and they are secured with a lanyard.
To have Ng’s job you have to have excellent peripheral vision to make sure no one is doing anything foolish. You also have to be a character, which means saying “super duper” and “super dupes” a lot. And it goes without saying that you have to be extreme.
After we ride the glass elevator, we are taken into the room with the friendly neighbourhood “walkmaster” who tethers us to the steel beam that lines the perimeter. Everything feels a bit uncomfortable, which means it’s safe, Ng says.
It’s a moment that demands a power ballad like Van Halen’s “Right Now,” but there is nothing.
The view is spectacular, but not particularly frightening. In the distance, Niagara Falls.
We walk on subway grates 1.5 metres wide. Looking down, you can finally make sense of where the train tracks split to go north and south, and where the spit and the islands are in relation to Cherry Beach. The top of Union Station looks really rough. Secret is out.
The affable Ng has each of us walk out and peer at the city below. Then we try our first stunt, leaning back over the edge. We have to squat down and walk backwards, and then straighten out our backs once we hit the edge. Then we do the same thing leaning forward.
“How does it feel?” Ng asks.
“Good,” I say, since that’s what extreme people say when they’re not scared.
For someone who is afraid of heights, this would be terrifying. Otherwise, it’s novel and informative.
Afterward, I am given an official certificate, which tells me I’ve experienced the “thrill of a lifetime . . . solidifying your legacy as a true Edgewalker.”
Finally, a legacy. Mom is going to be so proud.
See original here. Great video!