Teetering on the edge
I’m always amazed at the places my cameras bring me. It was media preview day for the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk, where daredevils walk 356m (1,168ft) above the ground along a catwalk atop Toronto’s famous CN Tower. There’s a safety harness and an overhead rail, but no hand rail at all. Just a metal platform and a view. Not a month earlier, I had photographed the CN Tower being struck by lightning. Thank God this was a clear day.
We had 6 people on our walk. I would be accompanied by 2 text journalists, another photographer, and two tour guides for an excursion that was to last 30 minutes.
The morning started when the tower’s safety personnel attached all manner of clips and cables to my cameras so they could fasten them securely to the bright red jumpsuit they gave us to wear. I brought up a Canon 5d Mark II with a 16-35 wide zoom, and a Nikon D3s with a 24-70. The memory card slots, eyepiece, and battery doors of both cameras were all taped down to make sure nothing fell off. I have dropped a camera maybe once or twice in my life, and I knew this wouldn’t be the time to have an accident.
After the safety crew cleared my cameras, we took a breathalyzer test and were swept for explosives – they don’t want drunks or lunatic violent types rampaging around up there. We then took everything out of our pockets, removed any jewelry or any other loose articles that could fall, and suited up. Before heading to the elevator, we were triple checked by three different safety crew, and were triple checked again by three different people after we got to the top.
I had 6 safety clips attached to my suit in total: There was one on each of my cameras, one for each of my lenses, and two to secure me to the overhead rail. There was no way me, or my cameras, would be falling off the track. After a brief safety explanation, the crew radioed in for the doors to be open, and out we went.
I am not afraid of heights, but at first it was hard to get to the edge, even to look over. I found that my brain would just not allow my body to trust the harness. But after about 5 minutes, I began to feel comfortable. The other journalists were braver than me, and we began to take pictures of them hanging over the edge.
I was brave enough to sort of lean over by the end, and got a few Facebook profile pictures. My reporter colleague got her story and we were good to go.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am always amazed at where my cameras take me.
(Additional photographs courtesy of Darren Calabrese for the Canadian Press)