The arrest (click to enlarge) Mike Robertson (45) of Wareham, Dorset, the deep-water soloist, photographer and recent Banff award-winning author of Deep Water was arrested on Monday whilst climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Mike was protesting against Total's - the French oil company, based in Paris - continued involvement in Burma, despite the elected Prime Minister and leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar (Burma), Aung San Suu Kyi's wishes that they leave, along with any other company or country that lines the ruling General's pockets.
Mike, wearing a chalk bag, mountain biking gloves and climbing shoes made it to 720ft, 300 or so feet short of the top of the tower at 986 ft.
There is a possible jail term of up to 5 years for an ascent of this historic monument. Mike was handcuffed and taken to the police station, but was released after about 3 hours and a lot of questions.
I spoke to Mike by mobile after he left the cells and was in a taxi in Paris, still wearing his rock shoes and chalk bag. He told us the reasons for this protest and the climb.
"The situation in Burma is dire; the beatings and deaths continue. Aung San Suu Kyi, is still under house arrest, and there's currently a news blackout, mainly due to the cutting of all communications and phone lines by the Generals. I climbed the Eiffel Tower to help draw more attention to the atrocities and the pro-democracy movement in Burma. I was gripped the night before the climb; nervous and had the shakes but once I actually started climbing I got into a rhythm and really enjoyed the climbing."
"I wore a shirt with 'Total leave Burma' on it. The climbing was mostly OK, with a big - English 5b -overhang at around 280ft, pulling out on a flimsy riveted-on aluminium feature. I tied a red scarf - the colour of the Monk's attire in Burma - on the lower arch, at about 230ft. I skirted the second overhang at 460ft on the inside, by way of the lift shaft and various cubbyholes - this to hide from the police, and got on the upper section without being caught, which goes from 460ft up to the top, at 1000ft. I was arrested at around 720ft, where I felt it prudent to 'come quietly', especially in view of a possible jail term"
PHOTO: See a photo of Mike at the lower crux here
Climbers have long made protests on visible public structures. Another climber, Ed Drummond made the first social-political climb of Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square, London, in 1979, for the Anti-Apartheid Movement. He used aid. In 1995 Johnny Dawes free climbed Nelson's Column at E6 6b 5a with Noel Craine, Jerry Moffat and Simon Nadin. The protest this time was on behalf of Survival International to publicise the plight of Canada's Inuit people. In 2004 Alain Robert, known in the media as Spider Man, climbed the 614-foot headquarters of the French oil company Total, outside Paris, whilst wearing a Spider-Man costume to protest against the invasion of Iraq.