HAVANA, February 5 (RIA Novosti) – The so-called French “Spiderman” Alain Robert took his free-climbing career to new heights when he scaled Cuba’s landmark Hotel Havana Libre on Monday.
Robert, 50, whose only equipment was a small bag filled with chalk, took less than half an hour to complete a free climb of the 27-storey building of 126 meters (415 feet) in central Havana.
Some 2,000 tourists and city residents gathered on the streets below and watched from the windows of nearby buildings with photo and video cameras. Two ambulances were waiting outside the hotel, built in 1958, which is the highest building in the island’s capital. The iconic hotel, originally called the Havana Hilton, served as Cuban leader Fidel Castro's residence after the 1959 revolution.
When he reached the top floor, Robert raised the Cuban flag over his head, the gesture warmly welcomed by the cheering crowd.
The Cuban authorities sanctioned the attempt, one of the few officially approved ascents in the “Spiderman’s” 19-year free-climbing career. He has scaled over 120 high-rise structures across the world, including the Empire State Building in New York, a 242-meter (790 feet) skyscraper in the Moskva City financial district and the 182-meter (600 feet) Moscow State University building.
In 2009 he also climbed Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, once the highest building in the world at 452 meters (1,483 feet), after which he was briefly detained by the Malaysian authorities and fined.