Three of the Craziest Climbing Stories

You may think climbing the Old Man of Hoy in Ireland is impressive. You might even be a hardcore climber, impressed by nothing short of the highest mountains in the world. Regardless of your climbing background, these stories are all guaranteed to impress everyone – from the non-climbers to the most experienced. Covering heroic solo efforts to crazy urban skyscraper climbing and amazing what-the-hell-was-he-thinking moments – these are some of the craziest climbing stories that the world has ever seen.

Alain ‘Spiderman’ Robert Solo Free Climbs Buildings

French legend Alain Robert is a simple man. He sees a building, he climbs it. Using nothing but climbing shoes, some chalk and (presumably) an absolutely fearless temperament, Alain has climbed nearly all of the world’s tallest buildings.

Alain ‘Spiderman’ Robert
Alain ‘Spiderman’ Robert

Bhurj Khalifa. Climbed it in 2011. The Empire State Building? Robert’s first climb, back in 1991. The Petronas Towers? 2009. Also in his hitlist have been the Golden Gate Bridge in 1999 and the New York Times Building, where he unveiled a Climate Change protest banner during his 2008 ascent. Unsurprisingly, Alain has been arrested for his passion in many times and places. The owners of The Shard in London UK, which is Europe’s tallest building, even took out an injunction against him to stop him trying to climb it. More recently though, his fame and popularity has allowed him to take on paid promotional climbs for companies such as Sky Movies and Optimus, a Portuguese telecommunications company.

Snowboarding Down Everest

Is it possible to snowboard down Mount Everest? I’m sure schoolkids and bored adults across the world have thought of this very question.

Snowboarding Down Everest
Snowboarding Down Everest

And then let it go no further than that. Not so for French snowboarder and climber Marco Siffredi, who became the first person to snowboard down the world’s tallest mountain in May 2001. Despite that great achievement, in which he boarded 6400 metres in just two hours, Siffredi was not content with descending the route known as the Norton Couloir. Instead, he wanted the bigger and harder prize – what he called the Holy Grail of mountain snowboarding, the Hornbein Couloir. However, this second attempt did not end as successfully. After a completed ascent, an achievement in itself, Siffredi ignored the advice of his Sherpas and attempted his descent after 12 solid hours of climbing. Sadly, he disappeared from their view while still 6000 metres above base camp and was never seen again.

Herman Buhl and Nanga Parbat

Literally given the nickname Man Eater by locals in the Pakistan/India border regions, Nanga Parbat is known as one of the most unforgiving and hardest climbs of the world’s 8000-plus metre peaks. The first climbing expedition here was in 1895, but it wasn’t until Herman Buhl in 1953 that the summit was reached. Over 31 people losing their lives attempting it over the intervening 60 years. Big news. But not only did your boy Herman climb a hitherto unscalable peak, he did it all solo and without oxygen. At one point, he was also forced to spend 10 hours of darkness standing up on a tiny ledge at 6000 metres above sea level with a 60-degree ice field directly below him. An absolute legend of mountain climbing history, Herman died climbing Chogolisa Mountain in Pakistan in 1957.