HONG KONG – While their countrymen prepared to attend to the Olympic ideals of “citius, altius, fortius” — faster, higher, stronger — two Russian thrillseekers traveled to China to put at least one of those to the ultimate test by scaling the as yet unfinished Shanghai Tower in the city’s financial district.
The climbers were the same men who made headlines last year when they scaled the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt — and later apologized when they were accused of disrespecting the ancient monuments.
They recorded their exploits in Shanghai with forehead-mounted cameras, and the resulting footage, which shows their adrenaline-fueled journey from break-in to summit, is breathtaking.
The video, uploaded to video sharing site Vimeo, shows two masked men wearing hoodies talking urgently in Russian as they scope out the boarded-up construction site, before slipping in. Under the cover of darkness, they make their way up to the roof of the skyscraper.
The climbers, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov, aren’t new to this type of extreme freeclimbing. Their blogs show images of climbers clambering over sites including buildings, mines and dams across Europe, the Middle East and Central and East Asia. Makharov’s blog shows a climber with a camera atop one of the pyramids outside Cairo.
Raskalov told CNN that he was “not scared” when climbing this kind of structure, although it was an “usual situation” for him to undertake this kind of climb.
Peering over the side, the upper floors of the distinctive, 492m Shanghai World Financial Center and the neighboring Jin Mao Tower (421m) can be seen in the video, peeking through low lying clouds.
From their vantage point on top of the unfinished building, Raskalov and Makharov look down on the skyscrapers — the height of the new construction dwarfing its neighbors, which had previously dominated Shanghai’s skyline.
Undaunted, the pair then swing out onto a crane and continue clambering skywards. Cutting back and forth between the daredevils as they ascend the crane, the wide angled cameras show the yawning chasm beneath their sneakered feet — neither man appears to wear any safety gear.
Upon reaching the very top of the crane, one examines his hands, grimy from the long climb, and the pair high-five each other before taking the ultimate Facebook profile pic – one unlikely to ever be replicated.
The 2073 ft (632 m) Shanghai Tower, when completed, will be the second -tallest in the world, after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
When the crane jib climbed by the men is factored in, the total height scaled is estimated to be 650m.
Makhorov’s blog says that the pair waited until the Lunar New Year holidays, when construction teams had left the site.
By Euan McKirdy