Last Thursday (June 5), renegade urban climber Alain Robert, 45, made the first-ever attempt on the 52-story New York Times building in midtown Manhattan in the name of global warming, only to be trailed by copycat climber Renaldo Clarke. Both men face charges of reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct.
"We can’t celebrate it because it is dangerous—and it’s illegal," said Joe Iurato, editor of New York-based Urban Climber magazineUrban Climber magazine to the Associated Press this weekend. "But some people have a strong urge to climb—even when there aren’t any mountains in their back yards."
Below, we pulled an interview from our December 2007/January 2008 issue to give you a look at what motivates Alain Robert.
What It Takes … To Free-Climb an Urban Peak, According to Alain Robert. As told to writer Daniel Grushkin.
Better known as the French Spider-Man, Alain Robert considers the cityscape his jungle gym. He has scaled 70 high-rises with nothing but his bare hands, including New York’s Empire State Building and the Sears Tower in Chicago. In May 2007 he summited 1,380-foot Jin Mao Tower, China’s highest. Here he lays out the lessons that have taken him to the top.
The Reason: “Climbing a building is not just climbing. It’s eluding the authorities, having fun, going to jail—but then sometimes meeting presidents and ministers too.”
The Risk: “I’ve fallen seven times. In 1982 I landed headfirst, crushed my skull, and damaged my balance. A famous surgeon told me I would never climb again. I was 19.”
- Nat Geo Expeditions
The Reality: “Jin Mao is latticed with piping, so it’s like a big ladder. But the Sears Tower, which is flat and smooth, is like climbing ice. On Jin Mao, I could see people inside working at their desks, while I was completely free and alone.”
The Reward: “I usually get arrested. I was jailed for five days in China. But I don’t care—reaching the top makes me feel reborn.”
Let us know what you think of these kinds of urban climbing antics.