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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Monday's Connector of the Day: Alain Robert

January 1st, 2010
04:15 PM ET

Armed only with a pair of rubber-soled shoes and a small bag of chalk, Alain Robert has climbed his way into the record books with his death-defying ascents of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.

 Alain Robert climbs the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority building in Abu Dhabi in 2007.

Alain Robert climbs the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority building in Abu Dhabi in 2007.

The 47-year-old Frenchman has successfully scaled over 100 skyscrapers including Chicago’s Sears Tower, Taiwan’s Taipei 101 and Malaysia’s Petronas Towers.

His most recent ascent was in October 2009 when he clambered to the top of the Ariane building in the La Defense district of Paris.

It may come as a surprise to learn that Robert was terrified of heights when he was a boy and took up climbing when he was eight years old to improve his self-confidence.

It was during his teens that Robert started to forgo ropes and harnesses in favour of the free solo climbing for which he has become famous. And despite a serious fall in 1982 – where he suffered multiple fractures and was in a coma for five days – he remained undeterred.

First it was craggy rock faces, but eventually he turned his attentions to tackling the shiny vertiginous facades of the urban landscape.

Robert draws thousands of spectators wherever he climbs. But while his ascents have earned him the nickname the “French Spiderman,” they’ve also attracted the attentions of countless police forces with officers on hand to arrest him for trespassing once he has reached the summit.

Free solo climbing remains Robert’s passion and the father of three children – who he always calls immediately after a climb – has his sights set on the world’s newest and tallest skyscraper, the Burj Dubai.

Alain Robert is our first Connector of the Day in 2010. If you have a question for him, post it below and we will put a selection of the best to him on Monday’s program.

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Gaobo Zhou

    Have you thought about dying in an accident and what will that mean for your children?

    January 2, 2010 at 3:25 am | Reply
  2. heartanatha

    you r my hero! i hope i have confident like you.
    I'd like to know do you feel afraid of fallen when you climbing?

    January 2, 2010 at 5:27 am | Reply
  3. Darnville Nelson

    What is success?
    Would you say you have been successful? and Why?

    January 2, 2010 at 9:27 am | Reply
  4. alain Robert

    it is one of the possibility as a mortal but what is the difference in dying form H1N1, or havin a car accident or a cancer???? at least if i'm having to die now i do prefer to die in doing something that i love. but at the end of the day i'm a fighter and whenever i unertake an ascent i'm having only one idea on my mind and it is to do the ascet successfully. A lot of people do not deae to make there dreams cime true because they are having o guts... i did chose to fullly live my life!!! it is my own choice and i have ispired millions of people around the world.

    January 2, 2010 at 9:29 am | Reply
  5. alain Robert

    heartanatha,

    tks fr your comment. i'm like any other human being and i'm afraid of falling and afraid of dying. But if i'm having to choose in between living a boring life because i'm afraid or living the life that i enjoy eventhough it is risky then i guess that you have already the answer!!!! happy new year 2010!!!! alain

    January 2, 2010 at 9:33 am | Reply
  6. Jimmy Yew

    I pray that you reach your objectives safely evertime so u can retire and enjoy your family without them having to worry about you.

    My question: everytime you start one of these climbs, do you think there is a probability that you will make one mistake which would result in this being your last?

    January 2, 2010 at 9:43 am | Reply
  7. cordobes

    why don't you play with loaded gun instead?

    January 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  8. Nikhil Sadhwani

    Hello Mr. Robert, I congratulate you on your many successful ascents on many famous landmarks around the world. My question for you – What are your thoughts, emotions and feelings as you climb the buildings or are they solely based on climbing the building?

    January 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  9. Mahir

    Are you planning to climb the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai any time soon?

    January 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  10. paul

    There's only one phrase I know in French and it seems so fitting now: "ça va pas la tête..?!"

    January 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  11. lou scarfo

    there must be a constant thought that preoccupies your mind during each climb...what is it????

    January 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  12. felixblock

    Do you lookdown while climbing? I used to climb small walls when I was a kid and found out I was only afraid if I looked down.
    Have you ever tried to klimb down a building?

    January 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  13. Paul Vermehren

    Are pigeons a hazard?

    January 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  14. levy

    Alain! You are an attraction wherever you climb. Your achievement is always on the news portals. Is there any idea or civil organisation which do you feel sake to stand for? Do you think that you would be so popular in the media, if you had such a named missio? (not commercial advertisement)
    I wonder your physical condition. Good luck!

    January 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  15. Tony77

    Tell him he makes me sick

    January 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  16. Sam Bahl

    Kudos to you! You have a passion that has kept you going all these years. What is the thrill and what do you feel during and after you have scaled the building?

    January 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  17. Mike

    How do your thoughts change as you progress in the climb from beginning through the last few feet?

    January 2, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  18. Emeka eze

    Guy you are great. Do you ever feel afraid, i mean what else makes you feel afraid?

    January 2, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  19. L Lagera

    Hey Alain, I was wondering:
    How long does it take you to plan your ascents? What parts of a skyscraper do you study?

    Good luck with the Burj Dubai when the time comes along!

    January 2, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  20. Ed Cayshon

    Hi Alain! I loved your book, "With Bare Hands". It's inspirational! A real favourite in my library. Can I ask: "It's energetic work and we learn a lot in the book about what you are thinking and the calcaluations you make as you climb. So let me ask something other than that: you have a great love of beauty and of things I would broadly call 'of the arts' – so, can I ask, who is your favourite writer? your favourite painter or actor, your favourite film-maker or other artist?" The things that you do are wonderful art in themselves! So I'd be interested to know the answer to this question. All very best wishes to you!

    January 2, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  21. Eric Larson

    Are there any special preparations you make before you begin a new climb?

    January 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  22. Chris

    @Gaobo Zhou

    Do you honestly think that someone who scales buildings hasn't thought of death? Please. Have you ever thought about what dying in a car accident would mean for your children? Or getting hit by a car and killed while walking across the street would mean for your children? I bet that's not going to stop you from driving or walking is it? The man clearly loves what he is doing. We should all be so lucky.

    January 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  23. Radek_Poland

    Do you sometimes think that you can hurt somebody else (for example a baby in the stroller) when you fall on it?

    January 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  24. Michel Eric Gaillard

    What are you trying to prove?

    January 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  25. Mike Baca

    You are the poster child of all humanity-showing how reckless and stupid we all are. I feel for your wife and children, wow it would suck to be them, wondering if Dad's going to kill himself finally. Congrats! None of us are any better with our own personal behavior.

    January 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  26. Jeremy

    How do you survey a building's surface before a climb to determine if it is scalable? Have you reached a point during a climb where you could not climb any higher due to the design of the structure?

    January 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  27. Douglas

    have you ever thought of wearing a parachute.....if i am not mistaken they were invented by the french.gods speed and good skills to you my brother.ur friend Douglas.

    January 2, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  28. ED

    As a parent I think you have to give it up and become responsible for your family. Is your egotism so important to you!

    January 2, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  29. Micheal Bennett

    When You Are Arested After A Climb,Do The Authoritys Ever Complimate You?

    January 3, 2010 at 12:36 am | Reply
  30. johan

    It requires constant, full concentration when you climb a skyscraper.How do you stayed so focused?

    January 3, 2010 at 12:45 am | Reply
  31. Jake

    Has is it ever started to get rainy or windy while you are climbing? I assume you must check to make sure the weather will be perfect the day you climb.

    January 3, 2010 at 1:18 am | Reply
  32. Damien

    Is the climb itself enough motivation to get to the top, or you do focus on other things as well?

    January 3, 2010 at 3:09 am | Reply
  33. China Zach

    What if it starts to rain when you're halfway to the top?
    And doesn't wind make things uncertain?

    You are beyond belief!

    January 3, 2010 at 3:16 am | Reply
  34. Emmanuel

    What is your motivation? People go to the moon, obviously for good reasons. At the end of each climb what is your gain?

    January 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  35. A. Smith, Oregon

    Reminds me of the American public attempting to crawl out of the utter abyss that the Republican party and Republican lawmakers have placed the American economy.

    January 3, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  36. martin gow

    Alain please do it just because it is there.

    Conqueor the Burj

    Viva La France

    Martin ( Welshman)

    January 3, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Reply
  37. Olivier HOUZE

    Hello Alain... I am stunned by the number of nobodies in this thread who lecture you for the silliest reasons, the type who spend their time judging the rest of the world from the height of their keyboards. I would suggest them to get a life. I might lecture you if I was able to do half of what you do and then decided it was pointless. But I cannot do this, and indeed I do not think this sort of performance is pointless. Bravo l'Artiste, and Enjoy!

    January 4, 2010 at 11:05 am | Reply
  38. MAX

    When will u climb Burj al alrab in dubai, tallest building in world ?

    January 4, 2010 at 11:26 am | Reply
  39. Geoff in London

    What famous buildings have you decided not to climb, and for what reasons?

    Do your climbing techniques include any tools besides gloves? Do you damage the building exteriors?

    Have there been any building owners or management companies that have celebrated your achievements with you?

    The moment I heard about Burj Dubai, I thought of Alain Robert !

    January 4, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
  40. Jesse James

    Do you research the consequences of trespassing in the countries that you choose to climb buildings in? which country had the worst consequences?

    do the companies ever thank you for the publicity after climbing their towers?

    January 4, 2010 at 11:52 am | Reply
  41. gordon

    i think you are a greatman and a real spikeman.

    January 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  42. Emenike Egelle

    I believe that life has got no duplicate. Alain Robert should be made to understand this principle.

    January 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  43. Anyasi Raymond

    First you had a phobia for heights and then a serious fall in 1982: yours is a story that's analogous to life itself,achieving heights in the face of challenges, a story motivational writters should refer to. I think you should be a bigger celebrity, do you think so too?

    January 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  44. seraphix

    Meet the FRENCH SPIDERMAN (Alain Robert) live in MALAYSIA this Saturday 16th Jan 2010 – 10am, Times Square Hotel Ballroom. Brought to you by The BrandLaureate For further assistance call 603-77100348/349

    January 15, 2010 at 9:47 am | Reply
  45. Paul Evans

    Alain
    Your'e an athlete, an artist, and a unique person.
    I've watched your climbs with growing respect and sheer awe.
    Half of me feels fear but the other half shouts Go! Go! Go!!!
    The Burj Dubai is a colossal ascent but you'll find a way because your'e a genius. There is no one like you – anywhere.
    Your nerve is steel.
    Your focus like a laser,
    and your endurance is off the planet.
    People are with you in spirit every step of the way.
    You show the world how individuals who live for and love what they do can achieve new levels thought impossible.
    Bon chance, genius.
    Paul Evans

    February 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Reply

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