Cheered on by a crowd of hundreds down below, the end of May saw two French climbers become the latest daredevils to scale the Warsaw Marriott without any equipment. We catch up with Alexis Landot, one half of the duo, to find out the story behind the story…
WI: First off, why Warsaw! Why the Warsaw Marriott?
AL: It’s an iconic building. Alain Robert climbed it in 1999, and since then a few Polish climbers have also done so as well – it’s well-known within our small urban climbing community and it’s a very interesting challenge from the climbing perspective. Some skyscrapers are too hard, others are too easy – this one was the perfect mix. And, of course, it’s a beautiful building.
It was widely reported that you were fined PLN 500 upon reaching the top. Typically, how do the police react to your escapades?
Penalties vary from country to country – in some places we don’t really experience any problems whatsoever, while in other countries the fines can be quite heavy. Usually the police though understand that we’re passionate about what we’re doing – we’re not vandalizing the property of anything like that.
How about Warsaw…
The police were very nice to us. I think they were confused at first as to why we chose to do it, but after speaking to them they were really cool about it – they realized this was an extreme sport and we were simply doing what we love. Of course, we still had to pay the fine!
And what happened next – do you celebrate a climb with a beer!?
Normally I don’t drink alcohol. Climbs are celebrated with a good meal or time with my friends and girlfriend. In Warsaw though, I couldn’t resist trying lots of Polish vodka after!
Do you ever get distracted by the people looking out of the windows?
Usually not, but that’s because I’ve trained myself not to be. If you stay focused you don’t allow for distractions – you place all your attention and energy on your movements. That said, if I’m feeling confident then I will let myself look around a bit more. With the Warsaw Marriott I felt really good so did wave at the people inside.
You’re friends must think you’re mad!
Well, my family for sure knows that I’m not crazy. They understand that I need this kind of activity.
How do you train?
I spend as much time as possible training and around walls, both climbing walls and skyscrapers. I train a lot at my climbing gym and also at night on local skyscrapers. I don’t go high, but rather just practice my movements on them – going up two meters, down two meters, up two meters and down…
I’m guessing you’ve always loved climbing…
My dad first took me to a climbing gym when I was seven – he’d had enough of seeing me climbing around the streets where I lived. Three years ago though, I realized I wanted something more. I grew up being able to see a skyscraper from my window, and I always dreamed of climbing it so I went ahead and did it. I was tired of waiting. When I did it, it felt so natural.
How many buildings have you climbed?
Probably around 15, but I’ve stopped counting. Some mean a lot, others though are less memorable because they’re easy.
What are your climbing ambitions – are there any towers you dream of conquering?
A lot! Me and my friend Leo Urban (who climbed the Marriott with me) would love to tick off the Tour Areva in France, but it’ll probably always remain just a dream – it’s practically impossible to climb, and even if you’re well-trained the chances of falling remain incredibly high. Alain Robert (a.k.a. The French Spiderman) has done it, but it’s a crazy climb that’s very dangerous.
You mention Alain Robert – he was the first one to scale the Warsaw Marriott. Is he an inspiration?
Absolutely, and also now a friend. A few months ago myself, Leo and another climber, BNT, climbed Tour Total in France together, and that was a great experience. When he heard Leo and myself were heading to Poland he wished us luck, before adding “you don’t need luck, so instead I’ll wish you ‘good strength’.” He was quick to congratulate us after.
Finally, aside from a head for heights, what are the qualities you need to pull off a tower climb?
The mental aspect is crucial. You need to be able to keep focused. You need a cool head. It’s vital you don’t listen to your emotions and, above all else, never panic!
For the sake of clarity, the Insider does not condone or encourage illegal feats such as climbing the Marriott; those thinking of doing so themselves stand to pay the ultimate penalty – death. Instead, try a safer buzz – Warsaw has several climbing walls, the following of which come highly recommended:
Climbing Arena Macaque
Palisadowa 20/22, website
Climbing Center Murall
Annopol 3, website
OnSight Centrum Wspinaczkowe
Obozowa 60, website