French spiderman up for challenge of Kingdom Tower

Alain Robert says 1000m Jeddah supertall "will be achievable"

Alain Robert says he'd be up for the challenge of scaling the completed Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. Photo: Getty.
Alain Robert says he'd be up for the challenge of scaling the completed Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. Photo: Getty.

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Alain Robert, the extreme climber affectionately known as the French Spiderman, has said he is up for the challenge of scaling Jeddah’s 1000m-plus 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 on Tuesday, “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%, 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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