March 21, 2022

What is Buildering? – Climbing, Where You Shouldn’t!

by Brad

The term “buildering” is derived from the words “bouldering” and “buildings.” Buildering, edificeering, urban climbing, sky walking, or whatever you may call it, is simply climbing on the exterior side of buildings. It can still be done on artificial structures. It is risky if performed without ropes. On legal grounds, the buildering is against the law, so it is performed during the night. 

Is Buildering a Word?

Yes, buildering is a word that is derived from the words bouldering and buildering. It means climbing on buildings or other artificial structures and is usually illegal.


Table of Contents

Overview of Buildering History

  • In 1895, Geoffrey Winthrop Young was noted for climbing the roofs of the University of Cambridge, and students followed suit. Young later wrote a buildering guide for Trinity College. In 1905, he also released a volume of spoof mountaineering and buildering. 
  • In 1905, Harry H. Gardiner climbed nearly 700 European and North American-based buildings. 
  • As of 1910, George Polley climbed nearly 2,000 buildings.
  • Buildering had attracted more attention between 1915 and 1920 due to the increase in architecture in New York. It was, however, marked with fatalities.
  • In 1921, St. John’s College undergrads wrote their college-based buildering guide. 
  • By 1930, John H. Hutson came out with the second edition of Young’s Guide. 
  • Seven years later, in 1937, details of Cambridge night-climbing appeared in print media published by Noel Howard.
  • In 1960, Richard wrote the third edition of Young’s guide, and the Night Climbing Cambridge book followed it. It was also featured in the F. A. Reeve’s book was published in 1977. 
The Night Climbers of Cambridge (Climbing Cambridge)
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The Night Climbers of Cambridge (Climbing Cambridge)
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  • 240 Pages - 03/19/2013 (Publication Date) - The Oleander Press (Publisher)

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  • In 1977, George Willig climbed the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
  • In the 80s, Dan Goodwin climbed several tall buildings, including the World Trade Center the Hancock, and in 2014, he climbed Santiago’s Telefonica. 
  • In the 90s and 2000s, Alain Robert became the most famous builder globally. 
  • In the novel published by Paton, a detective in 2007, the Cambridge buildering was included. 
  • Starting from 2007, books on the buildering were released by Oleander, Cambridge University Press. The Whipplesnaith was printed in 2007, and Young’s first Trinity Edition was republished.
The Roof-Climber's Guide to Trinity: Omnibus Edition (Climbing Cambridge)
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The Roof-Climber's Guide to Trinity: Omnibus Edition (Climbing Cambridge)
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  • 208 Pages - 03/20/2013 (Publication Date) - Oleander Press The (Publisher)

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  • The introduction helped clear up the identities of the first builders. St. Johnson’s book would later be reprinted in 2010, alongside Young’s Wall and Roof Climbing. The Cambridge Press also published an edition of all the Trinity guides and included Richard Williams’ historical details about Cambridge night climbing. 
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Wall and Roof Climbing (Climbing Cambridge)
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Wall and Roof Climbing (Climbing Cambridge)
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  • English (Publication Language)
  • 145 Pages - 03/28/2013 (Publication Date) - The Oleander Press (Publisher)

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  • When builders began posting their feats on YouTube in 2008, it gained popularity in European countries like Russia and Ukraine.
  • The history press published all the students’ pranks at Trinity College in 2013. The chapter encompassed all climbing activities.
  • As of 2016, Stephen Rogata was apprehended when he tried to climb the new 68-floor Trump buildering. 

Related Article: Name Something You Can Climb Answers

Buildering in the Urban Environment

Buildering in urban areas has grown in popularity.

In the 70s and 80s, when builderers became notable for scaling the world’s tallest buildings, with new feats on the record, George Wilkins’ buildering on a 110-story tower in the World Trade Center was completed in 1977.

By going against the law, he was fined $250,000, but the mayor only fined him $1.10 on each floor. 

Buildering in the Urban Environment

As of 1981, Dan Godwin, in a Spiderman suit, scaled a skyscraper that is taller than the World Trade Center.

In the same year, still in the spiderman suit, he climbed the John Hancock 100-story buildering, the second tallest buildering in Chicago.

But one of his greatest accomplishments was climbing the CN Tower in Toronto 1,815 times.

Other notable climbs were done by Alain Robert when he used to climb tall buildings with the free solo technique. He is also notable for scaling the Chicago Willis Tower. 

Why is Buildering so Popular?

Buildering is considered climbing where you should not. Its existence hails from the late 1800s, and it has been growing throughout the centuries into an illegal modern sport.

Over the years, there have been vast publications, including Young’s Trinity Guides, which entail details about the buildering.

Again, in 2007, going to 2010, the Cambridge Press published different books regarding Cambridge Night Climbing. This helped broadcast the depth of buildering in universities. 

What are the People Who Climb Buildings Called?

Buildering refers to climbing on artificial structures or buildings. Climbers involved in such acts are called “builderers.”

Who are the Most Famous Builders?

This is a list of some of the most famous builders.

  • Alain Robert-born in France in 1962, is renowned for climbing the Burj Khalifa in 2011. The Dan Goodwin-scaled skyscraper is taller than the World Trade Center. In the same year, still in the spiderman suit, he climbed the John Hancock 100-story buildering, the second tallest buildering in Chicago.
  • George Willig successfully scaled the WTC South Tower in the late 1970s. Similar to Alain Robert, he was dubbed “Spider-Man.”
  • From 1942 to 1952, John Ciampa was known as “Brooklyn’s Tarzan” as a stuntman and performer.
  • James A. Dearing ascended the Rutherford Courthouse early in the 1920s but died after reaching the top. 
  • Harry F. Young, Jr., climbed the Matique hotel in New York in 1923 to advertise the classic film Safety Last! However, he lost his balance on the climb and plummeted nine storeys to his death.
  • George Polley ascended from 1910 to 1920 but died at 29 from a brain tumor.
  • Harry Gardiner scaled over 700 skyscrapers in the U.S. from 1905 to 1918, mostly without climbing tools.

Is Buildering Dangerous?

The tower factor can be challenging because most excursions are free and solo with no equipment.

Nevertheless, the preponderance of acts occurs in the streets and does not entail ascending to a level where a fall would be catastrophic.

Bouldering cushions can also be used to soften a crash.

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Why is Buildering so Popular

How Do I Get into Buildering Near Me?

There used to be internet forms, which faded away in 2006. There is currently a hook-up where you can comment. The success rating is about 2.1%.

Builders also have an interest in other sports, like rock climbing. So, you can still make inquiries at your rock-climbing gym and plan for your outing. 

If you are a university student, check whether there’s a mountaineering club. Parkour climbers have organized clubs and would crave the opportunity to venture into an urban form of climbing. 

Instead of Buildering, Should You Try Rock Climbing?

What most of you get wrong is that buildering is just about the same maneuverability repeatedly when it is not.

However, it’s somewhat for skyscraper climbing and 5.4 multi-pitch climbing routes. Still, the difficulty level will vary just as it would on rocks.

If you are not using the rope, buildering further becomes more dangerous. Buildering pays attention to interesting and tougher movements.

Just as it is obvious for a bouldering route to be obvious to boulderers, the angles, protrusions, and textures of the architecture, too, are obvious to the builder.

Therefore, it needs time and keenness to interpret these factors and is just as interesting as rock climbing.

Isn’t Buildering Just a Part of Parkour?

Buildering is apart from parkour and something else.

That is, it has its history, style, and ethos. It overlaps with parkour and freerunning, though it’s a bit different.

Irrefutably, buildering overlaps buildering by about 70 years. 

Is It Illegal to Climb Buildings?

The illegality of buildering is dictated by where you are climbing and when. In most urban settings, you will be in trouble with the law if you climb on public property, which draws the interest of the police.

In universities, you are exposed to better terrain, but the interests of security guards are on the menu.

Generally, trespass laws are never similar in different countries, and it’s best if you know about private and public properties. 

What Should I Do If I Am Caught Buildering?

There are variables in play when it comes to being on the wrong side of the law. It will depend on the person who has you under his custody, for starters.

If it’s the police, you never have to run. It’s just an awkward moment that you have to deal with. Escaping would be considered a crime. 

But, climbing on a buildering is not a crime portrayed by most people. Trespassing is how close you get to a crime, and you need to be cooperative with the cops.

Remember not to deny your actions and not to implicate yourself further in the situation. So stay silent at all times. 

Security guards

On the other hand, if you are caught by security, you need to be some sort of diplomat. First, a security guard is not supposed to detain you as they have no legal authority.

They have other convincing tactics to get you to stay put willingly. They can psychologically influence you to stay compliant and submissive with the kind of training they get. You have to be respectful but not be tricked. 

Security guards can also get valuable stuff from you to hold it as a hostage. They may request identification or grab your personal belongings. It is somewhat a theft, and you should have him call the police. 

Sometimes, leaving is the best option if you deal with an unreasonable guard for buildering actions. If you are in a group, you need to plan for this.

And if you are on campus, ensure the buildering you use is private, as security guards normally check buildings inside and outside.

At all times, try to avoid being less compliant or getting into arguments concerning the legality of buildering. Doing this makes the situation worse while waiting for the authorities to arrive. 

Curious citizens

Scaling tall buildings raises curiosity and may attract small crowds of people. Some concerned individuals may be frightened, and for those whose break isn’t far from normality, comes the intention of having your day ruined. 

You have to ignore false claims from citizens and even authorities. Understand that there are individuals who like to get attention and feel important, with the delusion that they are indexing order in the world.

Again, you need to be cautious of people around you pulling phones out of their pockets. 

The trick is always to walk up to the person in a manner that won’t seem confrontational and study their body language and reactions.

Walking for no reason simply means they are guilty and have reported you to the authorities. But if they are surprised, the best verdict is that they are innocent.

Asking them to tell you the time can be the best approach. But if you strongly suspect they were calling the police, you have to walk away or disappear into the crowd. 

Guidelines for Ethical Buildering

There is the realm of buildering and rock climbing. You must understand that rock climbing is happily staying within the law’s boundaries while buildering is a happy sport but illegal.

Doing it means you are taking part in something asocial at best and illegal at worst. 

It all revolves around your creativity. And you can climb in whatever way you want, even without costumes or with no clothes. But if you need positive results, you have to get guided so you can gain experience.

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  • You are one step away from getting dead if you are doing urban free-soloing, which is normally gearless. Some routes may offer natural protection, but it is best if you fit crash pads at the bottom of the route. Should you fall, they will help absorb some of the impacts. 
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Black Diamond Equipment - Circuit Crash Pad - Aqua Blue
  • Material: 900D nylon, PU [buckles] metal
  • Padding: closed-cell PE foam, EVA
  • Carry Mode: padded adjustable shoulder strap, webbing waist belt, handles

Last update on 2022-05-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

  • Inadvertent breakages are harmful to your health and make you the center of attention. So make sure you test the buildering before going up. Also, see that you control your knees and legs. 
  • Besides, breakages can be intentional when one wants to modify a route. A word of advice: even if it’s a public place, don’t go vandalizing it lest you want to face the rough hands of the law. 

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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