Perhaps he isn’t a household name around the world, but whenever he does something, the world stops to watch or reads in disbelief. Self-dubbed “French Spider-Man”, it doesn’t take serious deductive skills to figure out what Alain Robert is famous for. He’s not a vigilante crime fighter, but he’s an exceptionally talented climber and an unapologetic troublemaker.
Through 2019, residential improvements and home repairs are projected to surpass $350 billion each year. What must’ve been surprising for the residents of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was a man climbing the outside of the tower. In 2011, Alain Robert was given permission to climb the Burj Khalifa — a $1.5 billion construction project and the tallest tower in the world, standing 2,722 feet at the tip.
“It seems there is a little challenge because today is a windy day and it will make things a bit more difficult. It might be a little freezing as I’ll reach the top around midnight so my climb will partly be in darkness,” said Robert, shortly before his climb.
So he strapped in and climbed it in a bit more than six hours.
Doing stomach flipping urban climbs is nothing new nor special to Robert, but on that particular climb, he was required to use a harness and safety ropes. As is typical in many of his other climbs, he doesn’t use any safety equipment, nor does he ask for permission. The Burj Khalifa was quite the triumph and he had to go for it. The United States construction industry is the second largest market worldwide holding a 10% market share, but he had already made short work of U.S. construction marvels like the Empire State Building, the Willis Tower in Chicago, and the New York Times building to promote awareness of global warming. Also, before the Burj Khalifa existed, Taiwan’s Taipei 101 was the tallest tower on earth and he had already conquered that beast, too.
Whenever Roberts takes on a new building, onlookers pull out their smartphones to record his death-defying antics. But on his Youtube channel, you can see these climbs from Robert’s own point of view.
Relatively quiet for a while, he was arrested in the United Kingdom this past week for climbing the 46 -story Heron Tower in downtown London. After his troublemaking fashion, he asked no permission and had no safety harnesses when he approached the tower in the morning and began to climb. Only 58% of marketers claim they’re successful in achieving their marketing goals, but Robert is an inspiring marketer of his own exploits. It doesn’t take much, either. As he began, terrified, fascinated crowds formed and couldn’t look away, swiftly causing his illegal climb to go viral. When he got to the top, 56-year-old Alain Robert threw up his hands triumphantly before being promptly arrested by the police officers awaiting him at the tower’s summit.
“What I am doing may seem crazy for most of the people, but not in a bad way. Overall, I climb to succeed, and my target is going at the top and, of course, to stay alive. I didn’t even really know about this building. I only saw some pictures before I came to London two days ago,” Robert said to Sky News later.
His arrest landed him with a 20-week prison sentence that’s been postponed for two years, along with a $7,000 fine and a ban on climbing any building in the United Kingdom until further notice. Because we know how well he listens to the rules. Still, the police sought to use this as an example to potential copycats.
“Today’s result at court should act as a deterrent for anyone thinking of participating in a similar illegal act,” said police Commander Karen Baxter.
We’re not sure most people would want to risk their lives following the footsteps of Alain Robert, but given his climbing resume and propensity to disregard rules, we’ll bet he has a few more climbs already planned out.
Sky’s the limit, Alain.