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“It gave meaning to my life”: Alain Robert, 47 years of barehanded climbing

“It gave meaning to my life”: Alain Robert, 47 years of barehanded climbing

Alain Robert is the “french spiderman“, a high-level climber since he masters two specialties: rock climbing in full solo without rope and climbing of buildings, skyscrapers or exceptional monuments in full solo also and with bare hands.

He now lives in Bali with his wife and four children, and is currently in France for a tour called Ascension, 15 dates in 15 cities of France. Alain Robert goes to meet the public after the screening of the documentary film My Next Challenge, awarded and awarded in New York and Tokyo in 2020.

franceinfo: In this movie My Next Challenge, we discover you or rather your exploits which make you dizzy. The spider-man that you are has been weaving his web for years. How does it feel to find yourself on the web?

Alain Robert: It’s nice. It is a meaning that I have given to my life. I started climbing in 1975. This is the way I operate. Every day, I want to climb, I train regularly and then I climb skyscrapers, cliffs, mountains, that’s how I live.

Does that mean that since you were very young, you have always had this need to experience ascension?

I wanted to be brave. And then, I saw a film based on a novel by Henri Troyat, Mourning snow. It is the story of a plane that crashes near the top of Mont-Blanc and two brothers, high mountain guides who decide to climb a large rock face with ice. It really inspired me.

“When I saw the movie ‘The Snow in Mourning’, I thought to myself when you get older, you have to become a climber.”

Alain Robert

to franceinfo

It’s quite rare as a childhood dream!

Even if it’s quite rare, it’s good because it gave meaning to my life which is fabulous. I’ve been rock climbing for 47 years now. I made it my job. It’s extraordinary to live off your passion, to travel, to be confronted with other cultures, other ways of thinking, different landscapes. Travel the world, in fact. It’s awesome.

My Next Challenge tell about this journey and who you are.

It is a relatively intimate portrait shot partly in Bali and the Philippines, with exceptional archival footage from around the world.

You started on the cliffs of Vercors and Ardèche. Very quickly, you switch to full solo. I would like to talk about the difficulty of this exercise. It is a style of freestanding solo, in which the climber does not use any belay system, relying solely on his ability not to fall. It’s completely abstract!

“Journalists have often asked me why I climb without a rope and I told them I like the commitment.”

Alain Robert

to franceinfo

That’s the whole idea. What interests me is to be confronted with something in which there is a form of danger and to be able to surpass myself physically, to overcome the obstacle. And if we do not succeed, it is the ultimate punishment.

You had big falls, one of which was six days in a coma. Were there any after-effects?

Seven, but there is one where indeed, there were more important consequences so that the COTOREP had found me 66% of disability.

You are a bit of an outlaw since you have spent many times in prison after deciding to attack monuments without permission. Doesn’t that scare you?

Not especially and then you know, the heroes of my childhood were also outlaws, Robin Hood, Zorro. In fact, I find myself there. It’s one way of being a “nice outlaw”. I don’t think I’m a problem in today’s society.

Among your most remarkable achievements, there is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, with its 828 meters achieved in six hours. There is the First tower in Paris, 231 meters, the Eiffel Tower too. This allowed you to be entered in the Guinness Book of Records. You have already touched on your dreams, so how do you keep motivating yourself?

Even after 47 years of climbing, I still love it, climb, travel the world, so I don’t feel like I’m doing a job. I realize a childhood dream. It’s already great to have been able to live in such a fabulous way to 60 and I hope it will last another 10, 20, 30 years.

Happy man today?

Personally, I am completely satisfied. Even if my life ended tomorrow … You must not because in fact I have a seven year old child, but in any case, I am very happy with all that I have been able to live and then , I had an already extraordinary journey.

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