Home/Biography, Memoir/With Bare Hands: The true story of Alain Robert, the real-life Spiderman

With Bare Hands: The true story of Alain Robert, the real-life Spiderman

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Overcoming vertigo — and countless injuries which have left him officially disabled — the ‘Human Spider‘ has scaled nearly 100 skyscrapers worldwide: from the Petronas Towers in Malaysia to Taipei 101, from Chicago’s Sears Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge. Reward and punishment have been received in equal measure — the flamboyant Frenchman has gained international fame and raised thousands of dollars for charity, but has also been arrested, beaten and prosecuted.

Many people ask whether it is madness to undertake such perilous ascents without the use of safety equipment. But in Alain’s view, it is madness not to follow your dreams! This is the inspiring story of a man who has conquered fear and exceeded his own limits: the world’s greatest urban climber.

“For Robert, tall buildings are his mountains. He eulogises the views from their summits and (police permitting) revels in the freedom.” — The Guardian

Look inside this book
Click on the links below to view sample pages from With Bare Hands. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

Prologue  The Hatchling

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Overcoming vertigo — and countless injuries which have left him officially disabled — the ‘Human Spider‘ has scaled nearly 100 skyscrapers worldwide: from the Petronas Towers in Malaysia to Taipei 101, from Chicago’s Sears Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge. Reward and punishment have been received in equal measure — the flamboyant Frenchman has gained international fame and raised thousands of dollars for charity, but has also been arrested, beaten and prosecuted. Many people ask whether it is madness to undertake such perilous ascents without the use of safety equipment. But in Alain’s view, it is madness not to follow your dreams! This is the inspiring story of a man who has conquered fear and exceeded his own limits: the world’s greatest urban climber.

“For Robert, tall buildings are his mountains. He eulogises the views from their summits and (police permitting) revels in the freedom.” — The Guardian

MEDIA ATTENTION

“The Big Question: Why does Alain Robert climb the world’s tallest buildings, and how does he do it?” The Independent

It is the morning of the G20 summit, and as a Who’s Who of world leaders gather in London to discuss the precarious future of the global economy, a figure is clinging by sweaty fingertips to a ledge more than 100ft above the streets below. As the City buzzes with thousands of protesters and police, this man has evaded the security around the Lloyd’s Building — in the heart of the Square Mile — and is now shimmying up its distinctive metallic exoskeleton without so much as a safety harness or rope. … Of course there have been many close calls over the years, but none more so than the Sears Tower in Chicago, which he climbed in 1999. In his autobiography — With Bare Hands — which was published in English last year, Robert likens the building to the alien monolith in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey; and for him, like the characters of the film, it was an object of fear and fascination. At the time, it was the tallest building in the world. Only some 20 storeys from the roof, Robert slipped. ‘I was on the last part of the building,’ he recalls, ‘and I lost my footing. The glass surface was wet — the result of condensation caused by the air-conditioning system. It took me by real surprise, and I almost fell. What was worse was that I was far too high to climb down. I was stuck. Every footstep from there I was fighting for my life and I only just made it up.'” The Sunday Times

“In 1994, having reached the height of his sport, Robert seized on the opportunity to do something different. He flew to Chicago with a climbing film maker who wanted to swap cliffs for skyscrapers. ‘It would have made more sense to cycle up Mount Everest,’ Robert writes in his autobiography, With Bare Hands. ‘In the shadow of Chicago’s cityscape, it occurred to me that I had probably agreed to one of the most stupid proposals that had ever been made.’ Nerves soon vanished as Robert inched his way up the 42-storey Citigroup Centre, using ledges, window frames and sheer strength to scale the unforgiving structure. He wrote: ‘The city of Chicago had just opened a door to a whole new universe, a range of mountains of steel and glass.'” The Independent

With bare hands, and for good causes… there is another side to the French Spider-man.” — Sufian Suderman, Today Singapore

“Daredevil of the Year: The Man Who Can Climb Anything. Alain Robert, who sometimes goes by Spider-Man, has for fifteen years been known as a vigilante scaler of skyscrapers. And one morning this June, he grabbed an overhang, pulled himself up from the ground, and without aid of ropes or equipment, began climbing the fifty-two-story New York Times Building. Here he tells GQ how he once again turned the world into his gobsmacked audience.” Devin Friedman, GQ Magazine

Alain Robert, a French stuntman known for climbing tall buildings, scaled the north face of the New York Times building on Thursday, ascending 52 stories to the roof and clutching a bright green banner, before police officers arrested him around 12:22 p.m. … Police officers blocked off the sidewalk at the base of the building and asked members of the crowd to move along. Construction workers on a building directly across West 41st Street, facing the northern face of the building, looked on with expressions of astonishment and amusement. A crowd gathered on the sidewalk, pointing, gawking and capturing pictures and images with cellphones, digital cameras and video cameras. ‘This is a publicity stunt, it looks like,’ Janet L. Robinson, the chief executive of The New York Times Company, said as she entered the building. ‘There is definitely going to be an arrest.'” The New York Times City Room Blog

“Bounding up the world’s tallest buildings, championing noble causes and fighting apathy wherever it is found, Alain Robert, aka Spiderman, is the postmodern superhero.” Action Asia

“Told in his own words, the story of Alain Robert’s lifelong urge to do nothing but climb is an absorbing and very charming one. This is the type of hair-raising book you tend to grip tightly at the edges while reading, in much the same way Robert describes his hold on some of the world’s tallest buildings while scaling them. You know it makes no sense, yet you admire the drive and resolve that the man possesses. The mystery behind his obsession, though, remains ultimately unsolved for the reader, but that’s possibly the beauty of the book, since there is no comprehending the feats of human endurance that this man undertakes. He is a man who will never refuse a challenge and as a consequence is never satisfied. Evening Herald

As with the best horror stories, it is also all too easy to turn one’s eyes away from the page for fear of what will happen next... The climbs usually end with arrest, sometimes jailing, and even a police beating. But the reader greets these denouements with a sigh of relief – the accounts of grasping narrow ledges 100 floors up as mist starts to make the building slippery are little short of petrifying, as are the photos. Hemlock’s Diary

“Alain Robert rises toward the clouds in nearly every city he visits. As one of the world’s most amazing people, his autobiography, With Bare Hands, should be fascinating, and it is – in spades. Prepare to clutch at the pages, holding on, hardly daring to breathe, as Robert tells of clinging to giant buildings. Reading With Bare Hands may induce serious vertigo. Pulses will quicken. Hearts will thump.” Cairns Media Magazine

A climber known as Spiderman has climbed a 45-storey hotel in Hong Kong, using just his bare hands.watch the 90-second BBC News video clip!

“Heightened Awareness: Office workers look out in amazement as daredevil skyscraper climber Alain Robert, dubbed the ‘French Spiderman’, scales the 60-storey Four Seasons Hotel in Central yesterday” see the South China Morning Post story and photos, and Harry’s cartoons

Alain Robert was interviewed by Michael Chugani on ATV World’s Newsline. You can watch online here.

“French Spiderman Alain Robert, who has become famous for illegally climbing buildings across the world, scaled a top Hong Kong hotel on Tuesday, eyewitnesses said. The 45-year-old urban climber scrambled up the outside of the 45-storey Four Seasons Hotel before being detained when he reached the roof, said one worker in a skyscraper close by who saw him reach the top. The feat drew onlookers from nearby office buildings, including the neighbouring Two International Finance Centre, Hong Kong’s tallest building, which Robert had been expected to climb once he announced his visit. Robert was in Hong Kong to publicise his book With Bare Hands, which looks at some of his climbing successes, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Sydney Opera House and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.” AFP

Alain Robert scaled a 45-storey luxury hotel in Hong Kong on Tuesday to raise awareness of global warming, his third known ascent in the skyscraper-packed metropolis. Robert, 45, dressed in a white shirt, scaled Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel with his bare hands and without any safety harness, after evading the city’s police who had been tipped off about a possible ascent at an undisclosed site. Large crowds craned their necks skyward, gasping when the shaggy-haired climber slipped at one point before regaining his balance. ‘He’s totally crazy, it’s really dangerous,’ said Jakob Mense, one of those who witnessed the climb. ‘If the weather’s like this it’s OK. If it’s windy or it’s raining it’s incredibly difficult and it might kill him,’ said John Chan, who collaborated on the French climber’s recently published biography With Bare Hands.” Reuters

“Robert is either a story of inspiration and a man living his dreams or a complete nut job, depending on your perception. Local publisher Pete Spurrier, who is publishing Robert’s autobiography With Bare Hands, which is out tomorrow, obviously goes with the intrepid Spiderman theory.” Annemarie Evans, South China Morning Post

“You’ve been banned from the mainland for climbing, right?
Yes, for climbing the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai. But the ban was temporarily lifted when the local authorities in Hunan actually requested that I return. They asked me to climb in Zhangjiajie to generate publicity for the area. There was someone closely following me around and they held onto my visa the whole time. My agent is still working to get the national ban lifted.”
read the rest of the HK Magazine interview

Alain Robert is the subject of a gripping Channel 4 documentary entitled The Human Spider. Click here to watch a clip from the film!

Alain Robert drives his family up the wall. The world’s greatest urban free solo climber has scaled 80 of the world’s tallest buildings without using any equipment, just his hands and feet. He has an arrest sheet as long as his arm, which in his case is very long from all the trauma he puts his muscles and tendons through.” The Independent

Clinging to the outside of the 88th floor, heart pounding, palms sweating, and nothing between you and the flashing blue lights of the police cars hundreds of feet below except a lot of thin air – this is not a sport for acrophobics. Alain Robert, the man known as the Human Spider, is perhaps the most daring climber of all time. His terrifying brand of “free climbing” – climbing without tools or safety devices of any kind – has taken him up some of the most daunting buildings in the world. The Jin Mao tower in Shanghai, the Debis Tower in Berlin, and Europe’s tallest building, Moscow’s Federation Tower, are among his recent conquests, while in the past he has clambered to the top of the Centrepoint Tower, Sydney, and the Eiffel Tower in pursuit of ever-greater thrills and risks. Daily Telegraph

As he climbs ever higher above teeming sidewalks – without official sanction, mostly – panicked and fearful local governments inevitably send in the cops, with sirens blaring. Admiring crowds gather spontaneously at the foot of his vertiginous conquests, cheering and screaming. Freque