Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
French climber Alain Robert, also known known as the French Spiderman, in front of Burj Khalifa, which he plans to climb.
Kamran Jebreili / AFP
French climber Alain Robert, also known known as the French Spiderman, in front of Burj Khalifa, which he plans to climb.

'Spider-Man' sets out on his Burj Khalifa climb

The French climber Alain Robert has begun his ascent of the new landmark, a trip that is expected to take six hours.

DUBAI // A Frenchman who has achieved fame by scaling the world's tallest buildings without ropes has begun his attempt to climb the Burj Khalifa with a safety harness.

Alain Robert, who calls himself 'the French Spider-Man' was due to begin his climb up the 828-metre spire at 4.30pm, but the event was delayed amid windy conditions until minutes after 6pm.

He had expected to finish in about six hours. After darkness falls, he will be guided by a spotlight.

The safety harness was a condition for being granted permission to climb the landmark, which has been his ambition long before the building was completed at the start of last year.

"They want me to break a record, but they don't want to take a risk that I may fall and die," he said. "I respect their choice. I'm still willing to climb the building even though I need to compromise myself."

Mr Robert is no stranger to danger. He has climbed all of the world's buildings who had laid claim to the title of the world's tallest, including the 508-metre Taipei 101 and the 450-metre Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. He has also successfully topped several other buildings in the UAE and next aims to scale Dubai's Burj al Arab.

Instead of stopping at the top of the building, he will continue to climb the antenna at the top. However, that feat poses some particular challenges.

"There's nothing to grab," he said. "I want to do it all the way to the top, but there's no other way to do it without using some caving equipment."

In order to practice the last leg of the climb, Mr Robert and his three-man crew drove around Dubai on Sunday looking for an equivalent antenna to practice on. He said he found one in the Jebel Ali area.

"I can't even tell you where it is," he said.

Despite the reputation of Dubai for its desert heat, Mr Robert is more concerned over the temperatures at the top of the tower.

"I'm a bit afraid it will be freezing," he said.

Mr Robert was invited to Dubai by the Education Without Borders conference, which is organised by the Higher Colleges of Technology. A stage has been set up on Burj Park Island for the conference inauguration later this evening. VIPs on the island have been in prime position to watch Mr Robert's ascent on the 'shady side' of the Burj. Elsewhere, crowds were gathering on the Burj steps, where it is still possible to watch the climb from a distance.

The 48-year-old climber, who has been in Dubai for one week, does physical training to prepare for the rigours of the climb. Meditation is one his methods of mental preparation.

The fact that he has to do this climb fettered, he said, would force him to alter somewhat his previous approach to climbing tall buildings.

"Most of the time my idea is to do or die," he said. "This time it is do, or something else - not die."

mcroucher@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National