"French Spiderman" scales mountain, not building
November 19th, 2007A climber, dubbed as the "French Spiderman" scaled a Chinese mountain on Sunday at the request of the government despite being expelled from the country earlier in the year for climbing a Shanghai skyscraper. French climber Alain Robert was invited by the local government to climb the 1,518 metre Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie as part of an initiative to promote tourism in Hunan Province. Robert began the 40 minute climb at 1 p.m local time (0500 GMT) without any kind of mountaineering gear, according to Hunan TV. The event was broadcast across China by local television. Robert said he was invited to make the climb in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, also described as China's Yellowstone, by the local government, who at first did not know that he had been thrown out of China. Robert spent five days in jail in Shanghai and was banned from the country for five years in June after he clambered up and then down the eastern city's famed Jin Mao tower, dressed in a spiderman costume. It took two months to convince seven different people in seven different departments of the Chinese government of the advantages of letting him back in to climb Tianmen Mountain, Robert said last week. The government hopes that the event will raise the profile of Zhangjiajie and bring in some three to five thousand tourists day. The area was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations culture and heritage department in 1992, and last year drew 1.68 (m) million tourists, according to the province's tourism bureau. Robert has made a name for himself as an "urban climber," scaling some of the world's tallest skyscrapers including Taipei 101 in Taiwan, Malaysia's Petronas Towers and Hong Kong's gold-mirrored, 48-story Far East Finance Center. He has also climbed the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York, all without any safety gear. Robert said he wouldn't be scaling any buildings in Hong Kong as he was trying to stay out of trouble in the Chinese territory.
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