Having narrowly failed to secure a world record for running up skyscraper stairs last year, this month ETO’s Paul Smith tried a literal change of direction; abseiling around 200ft (60m) down the side of a tower block local to him. As part of The Almighty Abseil for Buckinghamshire kid’s charity Youth Bank, he hung over the side of Bucks County Council’s 14-storey County Hall building in Aylesbury on September 7th, dressed as King Kong.
“If the rope broke and I fell, it’d be the most ironic death of all time,” Paul said. “‘Man plunges to death from tall tower dressed as King Kong’? That’s a world-spanning headline. Fortunately I got down in one piece but there was a very wobbly moment right at the start. I made the mistake of looking over the edge before I began and there was a 30-second pause while I considered my options.”
Paul had previously abseiled – approximately 10ft on a PGL Adventure Holiday, aged 14 – and claims to have no fear of heights. “Heights I’m fine with,” he said. “It’s falling, sudden stops and death I don’t like the idea of. Plus of course my terrific fear of rope. Hate the stuff. It makes my skin crawl.”
After the successful descent he added: “I’ll never be able to look at the tower in the same way again. It’ll always be, ‘I swung myself off the top of that, on a piece of string with ideas above its station’. A once in a lifetime experience. As the scariest thing I’ve ever done, you won’t get me up there again!”
If you’d like to support Paul’s charitable efforts, visit http://www.Localgiving.com/whatgoesup. In October his feet will be firmly back on the ground when he runs the Oxford Half Marathon for the second time, this time in support of Macmillan Cancer Nurses, as his mother is currently recovering from surgery for lung cancer. ETO understands he’ll be leaving the gorilla costume behind for that challenge.