A SKYSCRAPER climber dubbed the ‘French Spiderman’ has been arrested in pursuit of his latest challenge — scaling one of London’s tallest buildings.
Alain Robert, whose feats have included climbing Dubai’s 2,717ft (828m) Burj Khalifa, was seen tackling the Heron Tower in the City of London.
The ascent of the 662ft (202m) tower — now known as the Salesforce Tower — is with no safety gear, without a rope and using only his hands.
City of London Police confirmed they had arrested a 56-year-old man for ‘causing public nuisance’.
Uniformed officers arrived at 1.37pm, set up a taped cordon stopping traffic around the building and ushered the growing crowd to move back and keep out of the road.
Commander Karen Baxter condemned the stunt, accusing the daredevil of diverting resources.
She said: ‘The incident this afternoon has had a considerable impact on police, other emergency services and the local community.
‘Our officers, the London Fire Brigade and the London Ambulance Service all attended this incident taking them away from genuine emergencies.
‘Road closures meant a significant disturbance to local transport and businesses and their staff located in the building were also considerably affected.
‘While the incident has caused immense disruption to everyday business in the City of London it also posed a significant level of risk to the safety of people in and around Heron Tower at the time.’
He remains in police custody, according to the force.
Robert had earlier spoken to the press about his climb.
He said: ‘I fully feel alive when my life is at stake. It may sound a bit scary and crazy but this is the way it is.’
As with other unlawful climbs, he is as ‘always’ carrying his passport in a chalk bag ‘because it is very reassuring for the authorities’ when he is arrested.
Chalk slightly improves the friction between his skin and the building but he also tapes his fingers and wears wafer-thin gloves to try to stop them being shredded by the ‘aggressive’ building.
It is believed he only decided which building he was going to tackle from a three-strong shortlist on Monday.
He said: ‘I saw it. I touched it a bit. I tried it just a tiny bit.
‘I am not really knowing much. It is only really when I start climbing that I know. I need to feel it.
‘There has been 44 years in which I have been climbing. This is what I know as a way of living and expressing myself and living my dreams, my passion and living my life as fully as I can.
‘Definitely it it dangerous. I have a certain knowledge. I have a solid background.’
None of this is easy for his family and there are many members of the public worldwide who condemn him.
He said: ‘It is never easy for family having a dad who is doing that kind of stuff but they are used to it. They never asked me to change my lifestyle.
‘They trust me. They think I am capable to succeed each time I am doing something, but at the end of the day it is still a bit scary for sure. They are proud.
‘If you knew the number of people who are happy to meet me.
‘For most of the people I am an inspiring person. I am receiving a lot of messages saying I am such a legend.
‘There are a number of people who really think that what I am doing is crazy but in a nice way. I am really inspiring a generation.’
The talented rock climber turned his attention to skyscrapers in the mid-1990s and has now done up to 160 of these ascents to date, according to his manager.
Landmarks tackled include the Taiwan’s Taipei 101 and the Lloyds building in London.
Asked if what Robert was doing was actually a little barmy and just plain dangerous rather than a daring adventure, his manager, Bryan Yeubrey, said: ‘I just have to accept that. I can not argue against it, can I?
‘Alain is an adventurer. He wants to climb buildings. He is incredible. He is good at it and has been doing it for many years.’
The crowd, pushed back to about 150m away from the building, burst into cheers when Robert waved from about three-quarters of the way up the skyscraper at 1.59pm.
Robert raised his arms to cheers as he reached the top at 2.14pm.
From the ground, he appeared as just a speck against the clear blue sky and seemed to move calmly away from view.
After the climb, which lasted about 40 minutes, Mr Yeubrey said: ‘I am really glad. I think it would have been a much tougher climb than he thought.
‘I am always glad when he is safe after these things.
‘Now he will be arrested and go to court. Hopefully they will not be too hard on him because actually he is a really good guy.’