GES162 - Orbit Tower, Olympic Park
The 0lympic Park had been an early element of my infiltration career, and when done once, I became hooked. And went back again to crack the stadium on my first explore with GE077. That was 2010, and lots had happened since. News sites broadcast endless reports on how security was top notch in preparation for the games. As such, there hadn't been much activity in the park by explorers for some time, to common knowledge. So with 6 months left until the Games, surely it would be impossible to get into the site, let alone wander across it undetected. GE077 had staked out an access point described as 'easy.' With GE077, easy doesn't usually mean what I think by easy. We staked it out a week beforehand, there were 4 cameras pointed at our access point, one of which was infrared. However as we looked into the park, we could see no signs of movement, other than the pathetic security cars going around in 'stealth mode' with their orange flashing lights on the roof.
Fast forward a week later, and the BBC proudly showed footage of Royal Marines whizzing up and down the Thames in preparation for the games. A few nervous emails flew back and forth. Thinking of the worst, I gave my netbook and main hard drive to a friend, and then met up with GE077 at the nearby Westfield Centre. We had worked out access in advance, and waited for a gap between the 'stealth' security cars that endlessly circle the site. When it came we walked briskly to the access point, GE077 a few metres ahead of me, so there would be no delay going over. Some people were walking up the other side of the road by the access point, so I stopped and played pukey drunk, with GE077 asking if I was going to be ok. The people ignored us and walked by, when out of site, GE077 walked off and hopped in. I quickly followed behind. We dropped off into the site, and quickly ran for cover behind a tool hut. Out of site of the cameras. Our hearts pumping blood through our bodies as fast as it could, we sat waiting for all hell to break loose. Lights to come on, security cars to roar across with lights blazing, SAS to pop up out of unseen holes in the ground.
However there was nothing. After five minutes, we assumed we might have not been seen, and quickly moved deeper into the site, taking refuge under a caterpillar digger. Thinking this might be as close as we could get, and capture might be imminent, we cracked off a quick shot each. Here the Aqua Centre, with stadium and our main target, the 0rbit Tower in front of the main stadium.
We darted to a lorry, and looked around, no sign of life, no sign of cameras. We then walked slowly bent double to a small trailer generator. Fast moving objects tending to catch the eye more than slower ones. We were at the biggest task now, a 30m run to the bridge across open ground. A final look around, and we walked off again bent double, each covering an area of ground for trouble. As we approached the bridge I spotted a dome cam sat at the end of the bridge. We agreed to just keep going. We then crawled along behind a plastic barrier across the bridge. The canal quiet and silent below us. As we reached the other end, we saw the flashing lights of a security car approach. We shuffled back and kept as low as possible. It drove slowly past and didn't stop. We breathed a sigh of relief and moved up, ready to cross the road and look for cover. All clear, we darted out quickly across the road and over some thin ropes we barely saw in the low light, and then under a Portacabin.
As we lay low looking for signs of movement, we looked across from our new position, and could see the base of the tower. A flimsy heras fence was all that separated us from the tower. An agreed plan of action, and we shot across and past the heras. No noise made, job done. We were now stood behind a large mobile crane, with loads of huge tyres that were almost my height. We tip-toed around, and eyed up the route for a final assault.
There were two buildings with lights on, one directly under the tower, the other on the left. Either or both could have contained a security guard or late workers. We decided to skip the rather easy scaff stairs as being too noisy and obvious. They were lit by a powerful light from the stadium. Instead we got to the bottom of the tower, and laid our hands on the massive steel sections of the base. I crept forward and checked the lift structure under the tower, and no one was present. GE077 was already up the ladder we'd agreed to climb and I followed.
We quickly hid behind another group of the steel tubes that make up the tower. The aforementioned power light from the stadium was making us rather visible. GE077 went up the tubes to check on the access to the spiral stairs. He gave the thumbs up, and I followed him up the red steel, hopping off onto the stair ramp. The bottom right of this pic shows the top of the lift structure we'd climbed up. Pic taken at the start of the stair ramp.
We were now presented with a pushpin door, the last and final object to our conquering of the tower. GE077 used his magic powers, and the door opened towards me. We were in! Keeping low and moving carefully up the wide steps. Our first obstacle was the handrails, which turned out to be not so securely fixed and rattled as we touched them. They ran out quite quickly, as we plunged on up the stairs. I stopped briefly for a quick high ISO shot of the stadium. The bridge on the left is the same one we crossed in 2010 to access the stadium.
Looking down the inside of the stairs.
A few ladders up the scaffold at the top, and we were on the top of the tower. The highest arch sweeping overhead. We then set about climbing onto the top of the white lift shaft on the right.
Unfortunately the silly metal tubes got in the way of a fully clean shot of the stadium. Also the high winds here meant i had to go up to 800ISO to get a clean shot, this was attempt number 5 or 6.
Looking East over the Westfield centre and Stratford's rail stations.
Looking South and another new tower going up.
The Water Polo centre next to the canal.
Looking SW to Canary Wharf and the millennium dome on the left.
Looking West from the slightly warmer roof of the restaurant, the City of London in the centre.
The Aqua centre and Westfields behind.
Feeling cocky, we decided to break the golden rule of photos on rooftops, and used the flash, twice. I know, rebels!
The restaurant roof structure.
A floor below the above shot, and what will be a restaurant or observation floor. There was a similar floor below. GE077 freaked out on the lower floor, when he saw a figure move across the other side. As we both froze behind a pillar, we realised it was just my reflection in a window. D'oh!
We reversed the route to the tower, and I stopped off for a better shot of the Aquatic centre, looking like something out of Star Wars.
We exited the site past all the cameras, and walked quickly back to the Westfield centre, high-fiving a job well done as we crossed the bridge back to the Stratford Mall. I couldn't believe it had all gone so easily. It just goes to show that most security is more hype than reality. We also saved on the £15 that legit visitors will be charged.
Props to GE077 for spotting access and ninja stealth skills.