7 Apr 2016

Up at The O2 Special: Meet the incredibly awesome V-Man...

If you worked at Up at The O2, seeing Vaidotas Monstavicius hanging from the side of the building, doing pull ups in the morning, would be nothing out of the ordinary.

No one even bats an eyelid, anymore.

Monstavicius – known affectionately by colleagues as V-Man – is one of the most sought-after Up at The O2 guides, but get to know him and you’ll quickly realise he’s got some serious stories up his sleeve.

A fully-certified mountaineer and boulderer, V-Man joined the Up at The O2 team in 2014, but it’s fair to say he was climbing long, long before that.

‘I first got into it when I was nine years old,’ he begins, as he leans back into his chair. ‘I used to do a lot of free running as well, and always particularly enjoyed climbing buildings. It got more serious from there, really.’

If you don’t know too much about mountaineering, it may feel like an impossible sport to get into. But – according to V-Man – it’s actually a lot more accessible than you might think, with ‘plenty of indoor rock climbing walls scattered across London’.

And, as V-Man explains, it doesn’t take years of training to enjoy climbing. 

‘Sure, if you wanted to be a serious, cutting-edge climber, that takes a lot of dedication,’ he tell us. ‘But being a recreational climber is a sport for anybody, with much less intense training needed. It’s kind of like skiing in that way.’

As V-Man recalls his most thrilling climbing memories, (gesturing enthusiastically as he describes the feeling of being halfway up a mountain), you can’t help but notice the absolute love and passion he has for the sport.

‘It’s an amazing activity,’ he says. ‘You don’t only work your body, you work your mind, too.’

Interestingly, although physical strength is evidently a bonus when it comes to climbing, it’s the mental aspect that V-Man places more importance on.

‘I would say the mental side is really big. When you get in control of your mind, and you tell yourself, “I can do this thing”, it becomes very powerful.’

With all his experience in mountaineering and bouldering, V-Man’s job at Up at The O2 is a beautiful coming together of passion and interests – allowing him to regularly enjoy the thrills of climbing, without having to leave the city.

And like most people who climb Up at The O2 often, there’s a particular time of day he enjoys the experience most.

‘My favourite time to climb Up is during the morning shift, on a summer’s day,’ he continues. ‘The air is crisp, there’s a gentle breeze, it’s not too hot.

‘You do something active first thing in the morning and it leaves you buzzing. That said, the sunset climb is incredible, too. I’d say that’s probably the prime time to go.’

Being no stranger to a steep slope, watching V-Man scale The O2 is like watching the mountaineering equivalent of Usain Bolt.

On average, it takes groups around 20 minutes to climb to the summit and enjoy the panoramic 360 degree views of London.

For V-Man, though, it’s a much quicker trip.

‘My personal record is 3 minutes and 48 seconds,’ he smiles, ‘but I feel I could beat that! I’m aiming for under 3 minutes.’

Before long, the conversation turns to V-Man’s comparisons between mountain climbing, and the urban mountaineering experiences offered at his job.

‘I’d say Up at The O2 is a mixture of mountaineering and a via ferrata climb,’ he explains, when asked about the similarities.

We take great pride in our brilliant and charismatic team, and as you can probably tell, we love having V-Man working here with us. Wherever his passion for mountaineering leads him in the future, he’ll always be very welcome at Up at The O2.

And in the meantime, with all those pull ups off the side of the building, it won’t be long before he’s scaling The O2 in world record time.