Certainly not the F
A, because that was me
I was working for CAN at the time as part of a roped access team installing various bits, including attaching the 'spokes'. A day or so after the wheel had been cranked upright the engineering company threw a celebratory bash at a pub over in Blackfriars. Our team leader who was days away from leaving his job and the UK to set up in the states had a few too many free beers and started bragging to all and sundry about how he was going to climb the wheel the next day. He wanted the FA and didn't care if it got him the sack cos he was off anyway.
Next morning we were all sat in the site canteen nursing grim hangovers, all thoughts of wheel ascents kicked into the long grass, when in walks the media circus! Word must have got around about this wheel ascent and Carlton TV and the Daily Mail (
) had been called in. We were given official permission for the ascent and given film and still cameras to take up.
As the other level three on the job I was picked as the second person to go up the thing along with Gaz the TL.
As the access ladder around the rim of the wheel was not complete the only option was to climb the ladder up one of the legs onto the top of the spindle and then prussic the last 200+ feet up the spokes on slings. In order to effect an abseil retreat we were also to drag up 150m of static rope trailling off our harnesses.
Me and Gaz both set off at the same time up seperate spokes. He put too many raps on his prussic and had a real struggle working them up as he went. I put too few and made quick progress but kept experiencing very disconcerting slips down the cable. The prussicing was very arduous due mostly to the ever increasing weight of ab rope blowing in the wind below. As a result of the prussic rapping I ended up beating Gaz to the top and bagging the FA.
When I got to the top I had to hold a radio interview with the guy from Carlton, which was very embarassing as he kept asking me what I could see from up there, and as I had as much interest in London then as I do now I naturally had no idea what any of the buildings were except Big Ben, which is only spitting distance away anyway. They aired the interview that evening anyway and we got more free booze for our troubles
The Daily Mail refused to give us any money for the pics, so we held there uber-plush journo camera to ransom for two weeks (claiming we may have mislaid it), until they stumped up a couple of hundred each for me and G
. How we laughed.
I have a photo that was taken from the top of the Shell building behind the eye, of us on our way up the spokes. I'll try and remember to scan and post it later.