French climber climbs Auckland building
TOM PULLAR-STRECKER AND MARIKA HILL
Clambering up the wall of a 40-storey Auckland building isn't everyone's ideal day job. But for French spiderman Alain Robert it is a fulltime career, despite his fear of heights.
Auckland pedestrians watched as the free climber made his way up to the penthouse suite of the 30-storey Metropolis apartment building in the central city today in a promotion organised by Samsung.
Robert, 51, is known as the "French spiderman" for his unassisted climbs of buildings which have included the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and the Montparnasse Towers.
He has been arrested many times, including in Kuala Lumpur after climbing 60 storeys of the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers.
"The challenge is to stay alive, which is quite interesting," Robert said.
"Nowadays everything is all about ... money but when I'm climbing it's about mind and body."
He sometimes received perplexed looks from people inside the buildings.
"Most people are afraid of heights, so if they see a guy climbing they don't understand."
On the flip side, he said he did free climbing to inspire people to make their dreams come true.
"My dream when I was young to become a climber, even though I was afraid of heights."
He turned his biggest enemy into my best friend, he said.
"It's the human capability to overcome obstacles."
Before embarking on a climb, he still gets nervous.
"It's just a normal process before the ascent. You can't avoid it."
However, the anxiety subsided once he gripped the building, he said.
He uses rubber climbing shoes and chalk for his climbing feats.
The Auckland climb was expected to go from 11am to 2pm.
Robert is in Auckland to promote Samsung Galaxy's Gear smart watch. Samsung spokeswoman Nicky Gadsdon said Robert would be using the watch to answer mobile calls during his ascent.
- Fairfax Media