Even as a child, Alain Robert was determined to become a top climber. When he was just 12, he climbed eight floors to get into the family apartment because he had forgotten his keys.
Alain spent his teenage years training on the unforgiving cliffs of southern France, climbing free solo. This meant climbing with his bare hands, with no ropes for protection: only a bag of chalk and a pair of climbing slippers. In 1982 he fell 15 metres, head first. He suffered a five-day coma and multiple fractures: to his cranium, nose, wrists, elbows, pelvis and heels. The prognosis was that he would never climb again. But this didn’t stop him. If anything, it pushed him on to greater challenges. In 1993, he set a world record for the most extreme solo ascent, in the precipitous Verdon Gorge.
The time was ripe for new horizons. In 1994, Alain climbed his very first skyscraper, in Chicago – and the ‘Human Spider’ was born. He realized that he enjoyed conquering the impossible, and so he began travelling the world searching for the skyscraper of his dreams. He has been to jail many times for climbing without permission. But still he carries on. To him, a city is like a range of mountains, with one important difference: there will always be new skyscrapers under construction.