Climber Kicks Society's Ass, One Skyscraper at a Time

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2009 4:10 PM CDT
Alain Robert is seen scaling an office tower, 47 stories high, as part of celebrations for a revamp of a local newspaper in Singapore.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Some revile Alain Robert, the so-called “French Spiderman,” for his globetrotting, skyscraper-ascending exploits. But to the many who hold him in esteem, the New Yorker reports, he is simply “badass.” When he scaled the New York Times building last year, one fan was beside himself. “When he came to New York, my hometown,” the climber said, “I was like, ‘Dick!’”

Robert has climbed five of the world’s 10 tallest buildings since starting in 1994; the rest are mostly in China, where he is persona non grata. An admirer calls him “almost a physical muckracker, there to just break us right out of our shells.” Robert, who climbs for money and to raise awareness of issues like global warming, expresses a similar sentiment. “I enjoy kicking the ass of society.”