Not your ordinary birthday present: Sai Kung woman to abseil 1000 ft down One Island East

Abseiling down the Gherkin in London: this photo shows the kit Outward Bound fits abseilers with, before they go over the edge at 1000ft. The same team will lead the One Island East challenge. Photo: Getty Images

About 30 people are booked to abseil 1000ft down the side of One Island East – see our previous story. One will be local hero Trish Leahy, a Sai Kung resident who was set up for the vertical jaunt by her husband as a birthday present. This is reported by Nick Cotton, Executive Director of Outward Bound Hong Kong.

The amateur abseilers will have just one training session. Nick said, “There’s no need to train. Gravity tends to take over.” Six mountain guides visiting from the UK will prepare the adventurers at a training session on a climbing wall at the YMCA King’s Park on 26 November. These guides are led by Iain Peter, who is also Executive Director of Outward Bound International. The same team has carried out similar exercises on four buildings in the UK including the Shard. 120 people signed up for the UK adventures and all 120 were successful, Nick said.

We asked about the importance of psychological training given that most people would find such a challenge terrifying. “There is no need for psychological training,” Nick said. “People are immediately reassured when they see how extremely simple and safe the equipment is.” Everyone will be outfitted with full kit, including helmet, radio, gloves and body harness to which is attached an abseiling device that uses friction to control the rate of descent.  There is also a safety rope.  Nick said the professionalism of the British mountain guide team at the top of the 1000ft building will reassure the individuals about to go over the edge.

Nick Cotton, Executive Director of Outward Bound Hong Kong

What happens if someone faints, freezes or gets entangled half-way down the side of One Island East?  The mountain guides will abseil to him or her and assist, and/or lower the person to the ground.

Only one person will be abseiling down the building at a time on Saturday, 9 December. There will be 40 slots, so the excitement will go on from 8am to about 6:00 pm. Each person is expected to make the descent in 10 to 15 minutes, Nick said.  The adventurers are both men and women. Slots are still available, so if you think you can find the courage…

The whole exercise has been set up for fund-raising, Nick said. In the UK people paid £100,000 each for the experience. Outward Bound Hong Kong is not so demanding: everyone who books into the epic adventure is expected to do their own fund-raising. The money will go to OB programmes for the underprivileged. As an example, Nick cited kayaking trips for the disabled where they go out to sea with an able-bodied person.



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