"I like the feeling of doing what could potentially end my life"
What’s On has an Alain Robert interview in Dubai. French Spiderman will climb the Cayan Tower – ‘Twisty Tower’ Dubai Marina – without ropes.
**THIS EVENT TAKES PLACE AT 8PM ON APRIL 12**
On Sunday April 12 ‘French Spiderman’, otherwise known as 52-year-old free climber Alain Robert, will set out to scale the ‘Twisty Tower’ in Dubai Marina without the help of safety ropes. Standing at over 300 metres tall, the 75-storey Cayan Tower is ranked as the tallest twisted tower ever built and is among the most eye-catching in the world.
Ahead of his stomach-churning challenge, he spoke to What’s On about his death-defying stunt, as well as his fears, falls and favourite climbs.
How on earth did you discover you liked free climbing? It was a long time ago, when I was young I thought it would be fun to climb my parents’ house and I enjoyed it. Later on I started to become famous for my rock climbing and then decided I was going to do it without any safety devices.
Why do you prefer to climb without any safety precautions? I like it, that feeling that you’re doing something where potentially you could lose your life. You’re using your knowledge and your mentality to overcome your fears to make it all the way to the top successfully.
*All images below are from facebook.com/frenchspiderman
Do you ever get scared? Yes, I’m just your basic normal human being. So before each ascent there is a kind of comedown. It’s complicated but there is a mental process – you need to set up your mind, you need to make sure everything is okay and everything is under control.
How do you prepare for something like this? I’m pretty much always mentally prepared. This is what I’ve been doing now for more than 20 years if we’re talking about climbing buildings, and I’ve been climbing generally for more than 40. It’s a big part of my life – it’s the biggest part of my life so I’m always prepared.
What’s been your favourite building to climb? For me it’s still the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. I climbed it three times and was successful on my third attempt in September 2009. This building is very special, there’s a spire at the top, which is nearly 50 metres tall and standing at the top of that particular building was amazing. I was almost pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
You fell a few times early on, didn’t that put you off? No, not enough. When I had my very bad accident [in 1982 Alain fell headfirst 15 metres and was in a coma] I knew that it wouldn’t stop me. I just wanted to climb again as soon as possible. Even the doctors said there was no way I’d be able to climb because my wrists and my joints were too destroyed, but I wanted to climb again and I did it.
Is it true that the Shard in London has a court order against you? Yes, I went there just to check out the building and wasn’t being very discreet, wearing my trademark uniform – leather pants and cowboy boots – and was spotted by security. Instead of waiting for me to come back and climb the building, they decided to get this court order on me. It’s a nice building, one of the tallest in Europe and it’s a nice shape. I wasn’t planning on climbing it on that day, I was planning an event maybe six months after that.
So, any plans for future climbs that you can tell us about? There are a few things, maybe something in India, maybe something in France and Russia. There are a few demands.