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Thursday, September 15, 2011

I walked the EdgeWalk to conquer my fear of heights

Just over a month ago hubby heard about the new EdgeWalk attraction at Toronto's CN Tower. In case you've never been to Toronto it's like the Space Needle in Seattle, only taller. The CN Tower is 1815 feet high while the Space Needle is 605 feet high. The Edgewalk is 1168 feet above the ground while the Space Needle's observation deck is 520 feet high so the Edgewalk is over twice as high, scary and fun all at the same time!

The walk consists of a five foot wide, continuous circular, metal-grate walkway that has an arial trolley above. Six thrill seekers at a time are double hooked to the trolley and walk hands-free around the outer edge of the CN Tower's main pod with no guard rail or safety net separating them from the ground 1186 feet (356 meters or 116 floors) below.

Hubby immediately wanted to do it. Me, not so much. I hate heights. In fact when we were in Toronto 4 years ago I declined even going up to the observation deck because I'm so afraid of heights.

The Flirty Girl Walks on the Wild and WIndy Side

You do get a video and photos of yourself doing the EdgeWalk and I thought to myself "WOW that would make an awesome blog post!" So I did it. That's an edited version of the video above. It gives you a pretty accurate idea of what it's like up on the edge.

As we arrived in Toronto you could easily spot the CN Tower even from the freeway because it's huge.

After we parked the car we walked towards it. It looked really ominous backlit with the sun shining behind it. We could actually see edgewalkers from the sidewalk. Like we could see them leaning off the edge and spreading their arms and stuff. It was kind of freaky realizing that soon it would be us up there.

Hubby and I got out tickets and waited for our turn.

We had met up with my friend Chris who lives in Toronto, had a quick lunch and headed over to the "Base Camp" check-in spot.

This is Chris. We became friends online a couple of years ago when my cousin Tami got sick but this was the first time we'd met in person. Meeting him definitely made our visit to Toronto more fun :)

The walk was sold out (or he would have come with us) so instead he hung around and took some pics of us getting ready.

As we waited we could see into the room where you prep for your walk. Each guest is required to wear a jumpsuit and close toed shoes. If you wear sandals they will give you a pair of snappy black tennis shoes to wear with two pairs of ped socks.

The safety harness is something else. They strap you in snugly. I'd never worn a safety harness before. Can't say it was the most comfortable thing in the world but it wasn't uncomfortable either. It was comforting and I felt safer once I had the harness on even though we were still on the ground. LOL

Make no mistake, safety is of utmost importance before and during the walk. Above you can see that I was scanned for explosive residue. I also took my first breathalyzer test and passed with flying colors. Then it was time to suit up, get my socks and shoes on and because both hubby and I have gained a bit of weight neither of us could easily slip off our wedding rings which meant they were taped to our fingers!

You're supposed to remove all jewelry, watches, hair pins, hair clips, basically anything that could come loose and fall. We weren't allowed to take cameras or phones. You can't even take medication with you. You have to take it before you head up the elevator.

There I go to the elevator!

The staff is fantastic! I don't know who does the hiring but they have put together the exact personalities that make the whole experience even more fun. There was a lot of joking around about falling off the tower but somehow, even though it was a bit dark and twisted, it made the whole thing less nerve wracking and more relaxing.

Thanks to our second shooter Chris for taking all of the shots of us getting ready and heading up to the top of the tower. I really appreciate having them. You really captured "the moments" perfectly!

LOL One last gasp (or maybe that was a big EEEEEEEEK) before the doors closed.

The next photos are all from our guide's video helmet cam or the stationary cameras mounted along the entire walkway.

Once at the platform we entered an indoor vestibule of sorts. Our guide Sadaf was fantastic! She said a couple of people have turned back at this point and refused to go out on the walkway. Hmm I thought, "would I be the the third?"

Nope, not me! Once I set my mind to something I pretty much always stick to it. There I went out onto the edge!

My big plan was to walk out and not look down. But pretty much everywhere is down so I couldn't help but see how high up we were as soon as I stepped outside.

A straight shot down 1186 feet.

That's me on my first foray dangling my toes off the edge. That was as daring as I'd planned to be but Sadaf made us realize that we were incredibly safe up there. For starters by law the EdgeWalk is only required to offer the back harness clip but they double clip you in with two safety lines, one from the front and one from the back. They even zip tie the front carabiner closed so you can't open it accidentally or on purpose.

She told us just one of the cables is safety tested to hold up to 15,000 pounds. When I heard that I felt a lot better.

Top left: Not convinced.
Top right: Hey this isn't so bad!
Bottom: Wheeeeeeeeeee as I cling to my rope with white knuckles.

I'll admit I was the only to balk at actually leaning out over the edge. Sadaf had me do a test run on the inner edge first then encouraged me to just try the outer edge. To be honest it was partly feeling comforted that we were truly safe up there (pretty much the only things to fear are lightening, high winds, and oh yeah, falling) and partly not wanting to ruin everyone else's photos by hanging back that made me swallow my fear and try.

We walked a quarter way around the tower and stopped to try what has to be the scariest thing of all, leaning forward. I did not put my toes off the edge but I did lean and spread my arms out so that's something. Well, maybe not something but that's as good as I got.

Look Ma! No hands!

We walked another quarter way around the tower and stopped to take individual photos. Hubby and I got a few photos together but we're saving the best one for our holiday card this year.

Thumbs Up!

We walked another quarter way around the main pod and posed for group photos. I love these pictures! Imagine how bad they would look if everyone was leaning out and I was the only one standing on the walkway all by myself. LOL

Waving to the world.

Actually, we were waving to the people in the SkyPod above us!

Sadaf said "Look up and wave" and lo and behold there were people way up in a glass observation booth waving down at us. We waved back and they waved even more. It was so fun and cool!

The next day we went back up the tower and to the SkyPod to see what it looks like from above the EdgeWalkers. The circular pod wraps all the way around the tower. There's a glass rail you can lean against to look down at the city and EdgeWalkers below.

Here's what we looked like to the people the day before. See the walkers out on the rail?

With my zoom lens I could see they were posing for their group shots above the Skydome (aka the Roger's Centre).

Ha! Look at that guy! I wonder who he is. Bet he'd love to have this shot of himself.

Our walk was over and as we headed back in to the tower Sadaf gave each of us a high five.

We rode the elevator back down and waited for our pictures and DVD video of our excursion. Of course we had to buy a t-shirt and hat so the cost went up a bit more but I figure this is a once in a lifetime experience and was definitely worth it.

In case you're wondering here's what it looks like from the sidewalk looking up. If you look closely you can actually see the EdgeWalkers just to the right of the center of the round part of the tower.

Here they are closer with my zoom lens. There are six walkers out on the edge.

As I was taking these photos a man walking down the sidewalk looked at me and said "They're nuts!" I laughed and told him I'd just done it myself. He stopped in his tracks and said "NO WAY" and wanted to hear all about it. He kept saying "Not in this lifetime" and finally said maybe in his next life. LOL. It was hilarious.

I'm really glad I sucked it up and did the leaning. It made the whole thing far more memorable than standing on the walkway. Sometimes I think the best thing to do is face your fears head on and don't falter or blink. You are absolutely capable of more than you think you are. I also know that when I'm nervous I smile a LOT! The video proves it :D
  • The EdgeWalk is open from May to October
  • There are age, height and weight restrictions
  • It's best to call ahead for reservations. Some days sell out completely
  • The cost is $175 per person which includes a DVD video of your walk, photos, a certificate of completion and a 48 hour Total Tower Experience Ticket to all of the other CN Tower attractions like the Lookout, Glass Floor, SkyPod, Himalamazon and Ultimate Wave Tahiti.
Read all of the details on their website at www.edgewalkcntower.ca

One more Toronto post to come with more CN Tower activities then on to St. Paul for the Blogher/The Creative Connection Event Conference!

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