"Have you seen that French guy that does it with no ropes?"
In this article, Alain Robert, famous for his solo climbs up huge skyscrapers, takes us back to 1994 and his first ever solo of a sky scraper. His nerves, his pushy film crew and of course - getting arrested for the first time.
Weird. Half those photos are taken on the outside of my office! As buildings go it does look a bit of a path: a nice chimney with horizontal breaks every couple of feet ... But plaudits to Alain for finding a fresh way to make a buck out of climbing.
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC: when I very first started climbing (indoors with a lesson at the castle in london), someone said to the instructor "what about that alain robert eh? what a great climber he must be?" to which the instructor replied with "not really, its just the same move over and over again, hes not that great".
now, I didnt know much about climbing back then, but I still remember thinking what a cock the instructor was, and that Robert must have balls the size melons to do what he does. My opinion hasnt changed, hes got massive balls, massive stamina, and I suspect the instructor at the castle cant sport climb anywhere near Roberts level. And I doubt he has the balls to do what Robert does.
> Given that he's also soloed Rêve de papillon (8A), I'm surprised that so much is made of l'Ange en Decomposition.
Perhaps it's because your average punter like me can just about imagine what it's like to solo 7a in the Verdon but 8a is off the scale. Akin the response to Alex Honnold's 'day at the office' soloing London Wall.
Was this originally written in English?
"his experience had not left him a very positive impression of building escalations."
A certain amount of non-idiomatic language can be charming, but in places this reads like it was edited by google translate.
"Le caractère aléatoire d’une voie est une des composantes les plus importantes en solo. Il n’y a pas seulement la difficulté, la cotation, bien que je sois allé loin dans le chiffre. Si tu vas par exemple dans Mirage, un 7c à Céüse sur grosses prises, la part d’aléatoire est moins importante, bien que la cotation soit supérieure ! Et puis faire un solo à quinze mètres du sol ou à trois cents mètres, ça n’a rien à voir!"
ive never really understood the fascination in climbing man made objects. After a few nonclimbing friends touted climbers likes Alain for being the 'best climbers in the world' it even started to annoy me. After reading this article, palms sweating, im finally starting to see the appeal. An excellent read and I'll have to get the book!
morphus01 Dec 2008
In reply to Silum: i think it's more to do with soloing than climbing manmade objects or how technically good you are..
> (In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC) when I very first started climbing (indoors with a lesson at the castle in london), someone said to the instructor "what about that alain robert eh? what a great climber he must be?" to which the instructor replied with "not really, its just the same move over and over again, hes not that great".
> now, I didnt know much about climbing back then, but I still remember thinking what a cock the instructor was, and that Robert must have balls the size melons to do what he does. My opinion hasnt changed, hes got massive balls, massive stamina, and I suspect the instructor at the castle cant sport climb anywhere near Roberts level. And I doubt he has the balls to do what Robert does.
> Books going on the xmas list
I agree with the intructor on many levels. I would be interested to know how hard some of the buildings he's climbed are. soloing the equivilent of severe at 300 metres does not require 'massive balls', but if he's soloed harder buildings, hats off to him.
The rock solos on the other hand are far more impressive.
morphus01 Dec 2008
In reply to Franco Cookson: like to see you try *any*, big balls
I think the spirit behind his urban climbing is very different to scaling natural features like rock and ice.
For many of us the urge to climb is driven by our desire to 'play' and to liberate ourselves in a beautiful outdoor environment. Research and development in gear, technique and safety standards means we can afford to play harder and safer with the help of latest technology and the collection of other people's knowledge.
Human being do always have an admiration of the beauty of nature, however we are equally proud of what we achieved with our skillful hands and celebrate it in our built environment - we made gigantic machines that travels across the globe; we built roads and bridges that slice through the roughest terrain; we erected towers fearfully high and spotlessly smooth. We are endlessly breaking through nature's limitation, attempting to build greater than nature itself but at the same time we are creating something that's beyond an individual's ability to master. When we stand in front of a giant dam we can feel equally small and vulnerable as if were standing in front of a granite cliff (specially if the dam is relieving water...)
To me what Alain is doing is unique and rebellious. He's breaking through this framework we build upon. In sky scrapers we're building the ultimate machine - seamless, indestructible, unconquerable. He climbs them with bare hands as a child climbing up a tree, he conquer the fear of height - a byproduct of our modern civilizations when we created those towers. His performance is a relief of human being's inner animal nature which is often overwhelmed by our power as creative thinking beings.
Probably I'm thinking too far. I do have an admiration of this guy but never thought of him as being 'great' - rather a cheeky climber with very focused mind. I'm just trying to figure out where my boyish admiration comes from
> I would be interested to know how hard some of the buildings he's climbed are.
I remember Mike Robertson mentioning some building feature that was about F6c - but every move was the same, for a long way! The whole effort added up to a humungous pump at circa F7b. I guess buildings have different challenges (sustained difficulty, wind, etc).
Alain Robert can obviously do the business. I just hope he's around long enough to play with his grandkids.
In reply to John P: haha, clever how high is the NNE rodge like? 160? I dont have a guide book. and how high is Eliminate A? I did a route on pavey as well which was pretty big 80+ 80 + some thing else.
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