Mike Robertson climbing Leeds Park Plaza

Climbing skyscrapers for a living? What climber wouldn’t? So when Sony asked me to head a campaign to climb iconic buildings in the UK and take previously unseen images from up high, I heartily agreed. The campaign finally went by the name of Unseen Britain, and Paul Genge of Sony UK was to be my partner in crime, albeit in a ground support role. Gavin Symonds, Rich Mayfield and Meilee Rafe were to be my climbing partners – all in a good day’s work! It proved to be quite a task, and I don’t just mean the climbing.

The logistics of the project included method statements, risk assessments, and all the various HSE requirements, to say nothing of researching and identifying the structures that would actually have us! But we finally nailed it, and had a lot of fun in the process - a huge thanks to Sony for inviting me to complete the task. Check this out:

So… here’s the eventual list:

  1. Spinnaker Tower | This iconic tower stands at a hearty 170m, and is thus the south coast’s tallest structure, found in the heart of Portsmouth’s recently rebuilt quay. Very beautiful, and with a pointy top made just for one…

  2. Glasgow Tower | At 130m, the world’s tallest ‘rotating tower’ – it swivels at the base on an enormous set of bearings. All graceful curves, it’s found in the refurbished Glasgow docklands area, on the banks of the Clyde.

  3. Newport Transporter Bridge | An ancient structure that was built to carry cars and people across the estuary on Newport, South Wales. The steelwork and cables carried a suspended gondola across the River Usk.

  4. Birmingham Snow Hill Plaza | One of Birmingham’s tallest, and by miles the challenge’s hardest route! The line up the 16-storey, smooth-painted crack system was desperate, and the only one of our routes to see falls, albeit in a top rope situation.

  5. Leeds Park Plaza | Found next to Leeds railway station, and offering climbing up a white/stainless surface. Fingertip slot climbing at its best, and around F7a.

  6. Blackpool Tower | Iconic in the extreme; one of Britain’s favourite buildings! We climbed the tower in 3 steady pitches, finishing our journey in the hatch in the floor of the upper observation deck.

More photos from the challenge below...

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