Published on February 11, 2014 | by Craig Matthews

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Scaling the heights is the latest urban craze

Urban climbing is a new craze that has recently hit the UK
[flickr: heyexit]

Placing your life in the palm of your hand is an alien concept to most, especially when this death-defying act takes place hundreds of feet in the air.

While urban climbing may not yet mean much to many in the UK, if you were to mention this to someone in Russia or Ukraine, then they would more than likely understand you.

The key idea is to climb structures such as cranes, bridges, and buildings without the use of safety equipment. The climbers then engage in a game of one-upmanship with each other as they dangle hundreds of feet up in the sky, whilst gripping onto the structure with one hand.

The sport grew in popularity once viral videos started to spread on YouTube.

After a climb, thrill–seekers would post their videos of the impressive structure they conquered; it would then become a game of who could do the craziest stunt whilst on top.

This led to many dangling over the edge, completing one-handed pull-ups whilst making sure to strike a pose to the many millions watching online.

Phenomenon

In a documentary in 2008, reporters travelled to Ukraine in search of a man only known as “Mustang Wanted”.

Mustang is an Internet phenomenon, as many regard him to be the best urban climber in the world boasting a huge selection of jaw-dropping online videos.

The world of urban climbing has recently hit the UK, with James Kingston from Southampton being watched by millions climbing a crane in his hometown on YouTube. In the video Kingston climbs up, before dangling himself over a huge drop without a harness, and with just one hand to aid him.

The 23-year-old featured in a Channel 4 documentary Don’t Look Down, which followed Kingston as he travelled to Ukraine to meet with Mustang, to complete a stunt that had never been done before.

The pair were shown climbing many different structures in Ukraine and talking in depth about the dangers of the sport. The documentary also showed the pair trying to evade police after being spotted multiple times whilst climbing.

The reaction to Kingston and the documentary was mixed. The comments on the social network site Twitter ranged from very positive to negative feedback. Many people questioned his sanity, while others were more concerned about the issue of trespassing.

Although urban climbing has only been around for the last decade, its growth in the last few years has been phenomenal, mainly through online video sites where there is more than enough material to give you vertigo.

Nonetheless the sport is illegal and advice would be not to take up the sport due to the serious risk of fatality.

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