x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE climber awaiting all-clear for Burj challenge

Emirati Saeed Al Memari says he did not get the permission required to climb on January 1, but he still has hopes to scale the skyscraper.

DUBAI // The Emirati mountaineer who hopes to scale the world's tallest tower is still waiting for the all-clear from its owners.

Saeed Al Memari, who told The National he had been to Everest in 2011 and last year, wants to climb the exterior of the first 15 floors of Burj Khalifa and then jumar -a climbing style that relies on leg work up a fixed rope - the rest of the tower.

Once he reaches the summit, he plans to base jump from the top.

He initially planned to complete the epic challenge on New Year's Eve, then said he would do it on New Year's Day.

But no permission has been granted by Emaar, the owner and developer of Burj Khalifa, meaning his plans remain on hold.

A French climber, Alain Robert, was the first and last man to scale the tower in 2011 and won a place in the Guinness World Records for the fastest climb of six hours and 14 minutes.

"I'm as good as Alain. In this world, nobody is better than anyone," Mr Al Memari said. "If anyone wants to do something, they can do it. They may fail once or twice but they will do it. This is what I believe."

Mr Robert, who has scaled more than 100 towers solo, believes Burj Khalifa is a very challenging climb.

"It's quite serious in terms of climbing," he said. "The surface of the building is quite slippery and there is some glue that can be quite bad. This is a difficult climb."

The base jump, Mr Robert added, would be a feat in itself.

Mr Al Memari said scaling the tower would involve climbing using his hands for the first 10 to 15 floors.

"You can climb it with your hands, like a spider," he said. "I want to show the people on the first 10 to 15 floors without it and then climb with the safety of a rope and I will wear a helmet the whole way."

On his route to the top, Mr Al Memari will stop at the ledges to detach from his rope and reattach an ascender and a craw.

Using this equipment, he will keep one foot in a fixed loop of rope, slide a grip up the line and straighten his knees to inch up the side in half-metre bursts.

He has used the technique before. "I've climbed 1,000 metres before on Everest between Camp II and III and between them there is one big wall," he said.

Adrian Hayes, who made it to the top of Everest in 2006, said: "There are steep slopes of 60 to 70 degrees between Camp II and III and the altitude makes it that bit more difficult."

Mr Al Memari has yet to assemble a team or work out how much rope is needed for each platform.

All he knows for sure, at this point, is that he will be wearing soft-soled shoes so as not damage the windows.

eharnan@thenational.ae