GES041 - The Salesforce Tower (formerly Heron Tower), London - Night of Heights Pt 3 of 3
Night of Heights - Pt.3 The Heron Tower
Since this article was written, the Tower changed hands, and since May 2014 has been called the Salesforce Tower, after the company occupying 6 floors of the Tower.
On turning into Houndsditch, the Heron Tower shot up before us. A mass of steel and lights forcing ones neck back on their shoulders to swallow in the height of this phallic capitalist icon in the City. As we approached we stood in a side alley just out of sight of the handful of cctv cameras placed about. Just to our left we noticed two men who were also eyeing up the tower. We walked over and introduced ourselves, it was two fellow explorers. The Aussie one was none too keen to see us. We offered to let them get a 15min headstart, but they weren't interested and walked off, leaving the tower to us. Later on the forums, The Aussie would question a group of 'noobs' (cheeky) going up the tower. However none of us were noobs, and we took as much care as we would have in two's etc.
As the two left in the direction of the Nido, we waited until the coast was clear and hopped in at the strategic point. Then walked through the yard keeping an eye out for problems. Lots of scaffold poles, and other items needed in the erection of the tower lay about. We climbed a scaffold stairwell in the foyer and then began to climb the stairs in a sealed stairwell. Youngsters GE043 and GE044 bounded on up, myself not too far behind. GE041 ever the gent, dropped back to climb with the slower GE051.
At the 19th floor, the stairwell ended, so we climbed another scaffold stairwell in the middle of the building. This was our first chance to see outside the building, and we were only half way up! The building was open sided and had bits of flooring missing as we went up. We swapped across to another stairwell on the outside of the building, and continued to climb. Here I fell behind the others as I am not the best with heights. Although there was a handrail, there was nothing else to stop one from falling other than thin green mesh. With each flight the City dropped away further below us. Somewhere in the upper 30s floors, the roof opened out to a flat area, with the building continuing up as smaller section. A quick look around, and we continued up the smaller section. The stairwell here had no netting, just a hand rail and oblivion. It was also spitting with rain, which made things a little slippy.
I was having real problems with the vertigo, and didn't think I could make the last floor. However somehow I threw the fear aside for a minute and made it to the top floor where the others were. I clinged from girder to girder and then a crane while the others happily walked about. GE041 kept going close to the edge and looked at girders sticking out of the building. I began freaking out, I didn't need to have to witness someone fall a long way to their death.
While I was on the verge of hyper ventilating, and wondering what the fuck I was doing up here. The others went to the lower floor to get out of the drizzle. The floor here was a type of corragated metal, strong enough to take a lot of weight, but looked fairly fragile. There were loose metal rails around the edge, and that was it. Harnesses lay on the floor. This building wasn't meant to be climbed by explorers lacking any safety equipment whatsoever. I took a couple of snaps from a metre or so before the edge, the closest I felt comfortable getting. You can see the metal flooring and railings as I neverously shot the Gherkin and South London. As the Gherkin is 194m, I would guess we were at about 190m up.
And then over to the right, the Tower 32 and South West London.
with rain on my lens, I dropped down to the next level to join the others, only to see GE041 being photographed 50cms from the edge of the building on a girder, aping Downfallen's image he'd post a few months before. As he climbed in, I took a few more photos. A worse than usual photo, but this shows the incomplete stairwell with nothing to stop one falling.
To give perspective of scale, here's the Nido Spitalfields building we'd just climbed in the centre foreground.
Then a look over to Canary Wharf and the tallest building in Britain and the curve of the Thames.
Bearing in mind my fear of heights, although slowly being conquered. What I did next may have appeared somewhat odd. On the web forum I was on at the time, 28DL, there was a thread where people posed nude on explores. Ever the showman, I decided at around 190m up, if I did a nude here, it would in theory be the highest nude on a building in Britain. And so while the others averted their attention, I stripped down to my pants in the drizzle and cold. Then got the very brave GE043 to take the shot. I held my pants over my genitals, so I wasn't exposing myself to them, or most of West London. You can see the lower roof below. This is why I felt a little more confident at this spot. The other side was a sheer drop.
My feet were freezing, and I didn't hang around getting dressed. And with that we set off down the building, scampering from one side to the other in our quest for descent. At the bottom we went back to the access spot, and were all out of the site. We high fived each other and revelled in what we'd done in one amazing evening.
Thanks go to all there for their company that night.