French daredevil climbs Havana hotel without net
HAVANA (AP) — A French daredevil who has scaled some of the world's tallest buildings conquered Cuba's famous Habana Libre hotel on Monday without ropes or a safety net — climbing to the top in about half an hour as hundreds of awed onlookers gasped and cheered from the streets below.
Alain Robert clambered onto the roof of the 27-story hotel just after 1:30 p.m. after a death-defying stunt that followed years of other hair-raising feats.
The climber had said his main concern was not the height of the 413-foot-tall (126-meter) hotel, but that a bit of the building's brittle facade might break off. Like many city landmarks, the hotel is in disrepair after more than half a century of Communist rule on the island.
In the end, the 50-year-old Frenchman made short work of the building, climbing confidently and so quickly he could have almost been riding a slow-moving elevator.
Before he began, Robert acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that he felt nervous.
"It's always a little hard beforehand," he said in French. "But afterwards I feel great. I feel reborn. I feel free."
A huge cheer went up as Robert started climbing under a bright blue sky. Tourists stared up from the hotel pool, and office workers shouted encouragement from nearby balconies.
Robert, known as "Spider-Man," has scaled much taller structures in his career, including the former Sears Tower in Chicago, New York's Empire State Building and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
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