Shanghai skyscrapers in the fog

Crane Climbing: My Ultimate Nightmare

Posted on February 23, 2014 under
Reading time: 3 minutes.

I am generally pretty scared of heights. Not all heights – flying doesn’t worry me, I was surprisingly OK with a hot-air balloon ride, and I can overcome the fear in order to ride large roller-coasters. I am not so good if you put me near the edge of a high cliff, on the roof of a building, or up a ladder.

Recently though, I have seen a number of online videos showing something that truly scares me – crane climbing. And by “scares me” I mean “cannot watch the screen without looking away A LOT scares me”, or “makes my insides go ice cold and makes me feel physically sick watching scares me”.

Hanging from the crane one-handed

The first video I saw was posted on YouTube by a young Brit called James Kingston.  In it, he scales a Southampton crane, walks to the end and then hangs freely below the structure. The image to the right shows the point where he lets go with his left hand and just hangs by one hand. You can view the whole video here. I’ve recently seen a documentary about James which included a number of other incredible climbs that he has done. Despite my debilitating fear even as I sat 1 foot off the ground, I have to admit that the feats were very impressive. Also, possibly a little crazy…

What prompted me to post a blog entry, though, was a video taken of two guys climbing the crane on top of the currently-under-construction Shanghai Tower. When complete, it will be the second tallest building in the world, some 650m tall – that’s a little over 2,100ft. However, it wasn’t these numbers that amazed me; in fact, it is actually hard to visualize or comprehend a height like that. No, what I found amazing was was the video that they took when they were nearing the top of the tower. They positioned their camera looking straight down on the top of the Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Centre – buildings that stand 88 and 101 stories high, respectively. I’ve taken a drink in the bar on the 88th floor of the Jin Mao Tower, and the height is dizzying. I’ve walked across the viewing area on the 101st floor of the Financial Centre, and the feeling of height is intense.

It doesn’t end there. They continue further up the construction, and eventually end up climbing the crane still perched on the top of the building. When they reach the top, the view is breath taking. It is a shame the day was so grey and foggy!

View from the top of the Shanghai Tower