Alain Robert scaling the Metropolis yesterday. Photo / Greg
Legendary free climber Alain Robert - who yesterday
scaled Auckland apartment building the Metropolis without
safety ropes - says he feels glad he's "still alive" after
Known as the French Spider-Man, Mr Robert climbed the
40-storey building yesterday as part of a promotional
campaign by electronics company Samsung.
Stopping often during the climb, the 51-year-old had Snapchat
conversations, took calls and snapped some pictures.
Over a 40-year climbing career he's become known for free
climbing some of the world's most iconic buildings, wearing
only "basic climbing shoes" with a bag of chalk for grip.
Mr Robert arrived in the country last Thursday and had spent
five days studying the Metropolis.
For a man who's conquered New York's Empire State Building,
the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Eiffel Tower in Paris,
yesterday's climb wasn't his most complicated.
"It was a residential building, so it was climbing from one
balcony to the next, many of the balconies were not that far
away, except the last five balconies which were bigger,
taller and more difficult," he said.
But no matter the building's size, he still enjoys the thrill
of free climbing before the unsuspecting public.
"It feels good, it feels like you've completed something
interesting - it feels like you're still alive."
The Metropolis is one of more than 130 buildings around the
world the French Spider-Man has climbed. His biggest
achievement was in 2011, when he conquered the world's
tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa.
It took him just over six hours to climb the 830m-tall, $1.8
Organisers forced him to use safety ropes on the Dubai climb
- something he usually avoids.
Mr Robert's preferred climbing method, which he used
yesterday, was to use no ropes at all.
"That was the cool thing because in that sense I found out
that Samsung was quite daring," he said. "All of the big
companies [that hire him], they don't want to take that kind
of risk, so at least with Samsung they were confident on my
knowledge and my ability to do it."
His climbing technique allows him to climb using the features
of the outside of buildings, such as window ledges and
While some of Mr Robert's climbs are sanctioned, many of them
are not. He has been arrested more than 100 times for
climbing buildings without permission.
Mr Robert's only problem during yesterday's climb came at the
very top, when a rope let down for him to clamber over the
final ledge wasn't quite sturdy enough for his liking. He
finished his ascent via a slightly less adventurous method -
climbing through an open window.
Mr Robert's next climb will be on December 21 in Shaoxing,
How he does it
Alain Robert says he wears a pair of "basic climbing shoes".
He carries a small bag of chalk to give his hands extra grip.
He climbs by gripping on to the features of the outside of
buildings, such as window ledges and frames.
He free-climbs with no safety ropes - apart from some big
climbs when organisers insist.