Early morning commuters in London may have noticed a surprising sight at the Shard today: A young man free climbing the 1,017-foot tower, which is one of the tallest buildings in Europe. According to the BBC, the man was later identified as urban climber George King, and he made the 45-minute ascent of the glass skyscraper without ropes or suction cups. He completed the climb shortly after 5 a.m. London time, when he entered the building and was met by police officers. In an Instagram post, he described how climbing the Shard has been a dream of his for years.
“I was thirteen and on a school trip when I first laid eyes on The Shard,” he wrote. “I felt an immediate passion to climb it.”
After making it to the top of the Shard, King “was spoken to by officers,” but was not arrested, according to a police statement quoted by The Guardian. A police spokesperson later told the Evening Standard that officers can choose whether or not to take building climbers into custody.
It took a year of training for King to prepare for the Shard ascent, and his regimen included a number of other daring climbs without ropes or safety equipment. He even moved to London to be closer to the building, the Evening Standard reports.
“I spent months gathering intelligence and planning to do it,” he told the Evening Standard in an interview after the climb. “To prepare, I free-climbed both the world’s and the UK’s tallest climbing walls, and I’ve climbed lots of cranes too.”
After reaching the top, he posted a video of himself on the building to Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
Freesolo the shard. 45mins. A lot of misinformation about suction cups in the media at the moment. Here is a little snippet video. Enjoy 💚 I was thirteen and on a school trip when I first laid eyes on The Shard. I felt an immediate passion to climb it – the same type of passion I want to the world to feel. In the past I’ve been called a daredevil, an adrenaline junkie, a reckless teenager and much more. I’ve always found that these names come from those who are ignorant or misunderstood about what I really do and why. It takes years of training and careful preparation to be where I am today, and this practice is achievable only because I see myself as someone who has followed a respectable passion, albeit an unusual one. I believe that every single one of us has a gift. Your mission is to find that gift, make it your passion, and then make it your purpose. Since my climbing began, I’ve gone to places I never knew existed, met people I’ll never lose touch with, and experienced things I could never have foreseen. Press are welcome to use footage at no cost as long as I am directly informed before publishing/broadcasting. *
Climbing the tower is forbidden, but that hasn’t stopped other climbers from attempting it in recent years. YouTuber CassOnline climbed from the viewing platform to the top of the tower in 2017, and in 2013, a group of activists from Greenpeace climbed it to protest oil drilling in the Arctic, the BBC reports.
In his interview with the Evening Standard, King made it clear that it was his passion for climbing that pushed him to try his luck on the Shard.
“While you’re doing it, when you get the sense of fulfillment and the flow of climbing—it’s an incredible feeling,” he said.
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