The “Mick Jagger” of climbing, who has drawn crowds of up to 100,000 to his death-defying feats, is heading to the Capital to discuss his hair- raising stunts.
“French Spiderman” Alain Robert, known for climbing up skyscrapers around the globe without the use of safety equipment, is in the city ahead of his talk at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho tomorrow evening.
The 50-year-old will be discussing his greatest challenges and how he has overcome injuries sustained while climbing. He is also expected to talk about his struggle with vertigo, a condition many would find odd for a man who has scaled more than 100 of the world’s tallest buildings without a rope.
He said: “I have never been to Scotland before and here I am in this fantastic city. The people are so friendly and I am really looking forward to the talk on Friday.”
Robert began climbing at any early age but kept his lofty ambitions a secret from his parents as he did not feel they would approve. After learning the basics as a boy scout, his first major climb occurred at the age of 12.
On finding himself locked out of the family home after forgetting his keys, he decided to scale the outside of the building to gain access to the eighth-floor apartment.
His parents are said to have “given up” attempting to stop him reaching for the stars and he began to hone his skills on the cliffs around his home town of Valence.
He soon began free solo climbing – climbing without a harness, ropes or any form of protection – although in the beginning he would often try out a route using ropes first.
Adam Cruttenden, manager at the EICA, said: “It’s a real honour to be able to welcome someone of Alain’s stature to Europe’s largest indoor climbing arena here in Ratho. He’s known all over the world having scaled the likes of the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building.
“It will be a great night and we’re sure everyone in the audience will leave amazed.”
Robert has not revealed any plans to climb any structures in Edinburgh, but often does not give advance warning.
Peaks of a lofty career
On New Year’s Eve 1996, Alain Robert climbed the 324m (1062ft) Eiffel Tower in Paris, which he described as “nothing but a big ladder”.
The Frenchman was arrested through a window in the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, 340m (1115ft) into his 451m (1479ft) climb in 1997. In 2007, he marked the tenth anniversary of his arrest by being apprehended again at the same point. He eventually reached the top in 2009 after a one hour, 40 minute climb went unnoticed.
In 2007, he was arrested in London for climbing the 101m (331ft) Portland House and in 2011 he took six hours to (legally) climb the world’s tallest building – the 828m (2716ft) Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai.