French spiderman up for challenge of Kingdom Tower

Extreme climber Alain Robert says 1,000m Jeddah superscraper ‘will be achievable’  
French spiderman up for challenge of Kingdom Tower
French Spiderman Alain Robert climbs the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority building in Abu Dhabi, 23 February 2007
By Carlin Gerbich
Thu 11 Aug 2011 07:50 AM

Alain Robert, the extreme climber affectionately
known as the French Spiderman, has said he is up for the challenge of scaling
Jeddah’s more than 1km-tall
Kingdom Tower, once it is completed.

The 49-year-old climber has courted controversy over the
years by climbing many of the world’s tallest towers – some of them without
permission, risking arrest. Earlier this year, he successfully scaled the 828m
Burj Khalifa in six hours during an officially endorsed climb.

Speaking to Construction Week, Robert said; “Of course, yes,
I would definitely be interested in climbing the tower. The only issue is time:
I have been told it will be at least 10 years before it is finished, and by
that time I will be in my late 50s.

That doesn’t mean I can’t make it: I know within myself that
I can definitely make it.”

“I don’t know how difficult it will be to climb because I
have only seen some pictures of it, but nothing up close. If the height is
1000m, then that is achievable. I heard somewhere that it may be 1,600m. That
doesn’t make much sense.”

Robert said he would only contemplate an ascent of the
building if he was given official approval.

“I have been doing this for nine years in Dubai and Abu
Dhabi, and I have a lot of respect for Sheik Rashid and Sheik Nayan. They have
helped a lot, and I would not want to disappoint them.”

“Access may be an issue, but I’m sure with the people I’ve
met, that it should be possible. I think some see it as a sort of honour for me
to climb their buildings, so that does help,” Robert said.

Robert said his successful climb of the Burj Khalifa was
exceptionally challenging, particularly as he was forced to start the climb two
hours late.

“It was difficult, and as I got higher, the wind started to
build. I had no other choice: it was either postpone or cancel, so I had to do
it.”

“During the final part, I couldn’t see the top – and the
spire was very slippery, which made things even more difficult. It was great to
finally get to the end,” he said.

Robert’s next outings include an official appearance in
London later this month, Moscow on September 4 and Singapore later in the
month.

He also has plans to scale the Burj Al Arab and make a
documentary about it, in 3D. Negotiations are underway for funding of the
project in Europe at present, and Robert says the attempt may be made within 12
months.

“For me, it will be a dream come true. I’m not sure they
took me seriously to start with, but I’m really optimistic about it.”

“It’s more difficult that it looks. The first 20 percent,
say 80 metres or so, is all overhang. It’s not something you notice from a
distance, but up close it is obvious. That will be difficult to get past – but
beyond that, it will be better.”

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