You all know that when Mike Reardon died, it bothered me a whole lot. I love climbing and climbers and all things related. But now this morning, I see headlines from The Post and The Daily News that confuse me.
On the one hand, any time someone starts on the sidewalk in front of The Times Building, applies his (or her) hands to the building, and makes it to the top, the climber in me is delirious with excitement and happiness because climbing stuff is the best thing ever. Plus that climb is a good one to pick if you are in the market for a free climb in NYC. I have observed the climb-ability of that building many times, and though I have never considered applying myself to it, the building is not tricky in terms of the hand and foot holds (plentiful and chunky). The only down side is that it is a long damned climb. The second guy who completed it collapsed from exhaustion when he got to the top.
But of course there is another hand to consider. Much as I love the sport and much as I love bravado and good clean fun - and as much as I am ok with other people making decisions to endanger their own lives as long as that's what they want to do, it's never cool to endanger the safety of other people, and unfortunately, free-climbing a manhattan skyscraper with no permit, no security, and no safety equipment causes people to gather on the sidewalk, spill into the street and block traffic and then it causes several units of police, and at least one ambulance to watch your skinny ass wiggle up the side of a building for several hours. Now, if you don't care about traffic and you don't think the police have other things to do, so far so good. The commuters will probably forgive you, too, as long as you don't slip and land on their cars.
But you have to consider (yes, you do) what would happen if you fell. You would die, but that's cool because you already accepted that risk. What wouldn't be cool is that your fall may or may not be broken by the bystanders who may or may not be themselves killed. And what happens when a body falls from that far up is also the opposite of cool; the people who witnessed the projectile disintegration of your skinny ass would be fortunate if they got out of the scene with no more than post traumatic stress disorder. Then there are the police officers and paramedics who have to clean up the mess that was you and inform your family.
Here's a picture, courtesy of The Daily News, of Alain Robert unfurling his banner protesting global warming on his way up.
Here's another of climber two, Ray Clark, near the top.
What do you all think?