French free-climber Alain Robert has climbed the world’s tallest twisted tower with the aid of just a small pouch of chalk to keep his hands dry.
The dare-devil, known as Spiderman, completed the ascent of Dubai’s 75-storey Cayan Tower in just over an hour.
Watched and cheered by hundreds of onlookers he made steady progress up the skyscraper on Sunday evening – pausing occasionally to gather his breath, accept drinks from spectators on balconies and even pose for cameras and a spotlight which tracked his progress.
When he completed the ascent Robert raised his arms in triumph as hundreds watching from the base of the tower in Dubai Marina, on a bridge over the waterway and from yachts and tourist dhows applauded for several minutes.
Before the climb he admitted it posed difficulties – because unlike on his successful scaling of the Burj Khalifa he would not be wearing a safety harness.
“This is the world’s tallest twisted tower and that provides its own challenges,” he said.
“The footholds are quite tiny, so that is something I will have to cope with.
“When I reach the top I expect it to get complicated. Before the end of the building I will move my position across it and that will be difficult.”
Admitting that he was not quite as young as he once was – Robert is 52 – he added: “I study the materials the building is constructed of – and of course look to see who the architect was.
“The materials are important, steel, marble, aluminium they all have different properties. Then there are small things like window frames or a small groove. I have to take notice of them all.”
The Frenchman has become famous for scaling some of the world’s most iconic buildings without a safety harness, including the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.Among Robert’s other successful ascents are the Empire State Building in New York, Sydney Opera House and Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
“Compared to the Cayan Tower climb scaling the Eiffel Tower was like climbing a ladder,” he said.
Preparations for the event – a world record for the unaided ascent of a twisted tower – took more than a year and according to Ahmed Alhatti, chairman and president of the building’s developer Cayan Group, it was Robert who suggested it.
“Our engineers worked out the safest route for him and he has been on several practice climbs,” said Alhatti adding the company had suggested safety ropes but the offer was declined.
Watching the climb was American student Max Hamilton who stopped his bike ride to view the spectacle: “Is that a guy up there?” he asked the crowd. “Wow.”
The event was part of an announcement by Cayan Group of a residential and serviced apartment project called Cantara in Dubai
The company announced it will build a 38-story hotel-apartment complex and a 42-story residential tower costing $273 million. The buildings on Umm Suqeim road are set for completion by mid-2018.
It also announced a $666 million investment in projects in Riyadh including plots of land for people to build their own homes a housing development close to the Diplomatic Quarter and a 15-storey office tower on King Fahad Road to serve as its new headquarters.