Fad or food for the soul
By Davie Wong, Contributor
When the children of the 22nd century look back at our history, and us as a civilization, they will notice a few things. In particular, they will look at our strange trends.
From Korean smash singles in North America to songs about foxes and stupid high media coverage on what the female backend muscles can do, 2014 and 2015 have been the years of strange trends. But one new trend is truly one of the strangest so far. Yes, even stranger than someone balancing objects on their buttocks.
Crane climbing. That’s right, crane climbing. Daring individuals from around the city—from adventure seekers to adrenaline junkies—have tuned into their social media to see who has next accomplished a magnificent feat of crane climbing.
Crane climbing is fairly self-explanatory. It is the act of climbing cranes throughout the city and taking pictures of or filming oneself in the act.
But why would anyone do something so dangerous? Each climber has his or her own reasons and motives for climbing. Some do it for adrenaline, some do it for attention, and others do it for a variety of reasons that we may never know. However, there are individuals who have spoken out about their passion, which so many have called “urban free climbing.” Joseph McGuire, a climber based out of Calgary, Alberta, penned a letter to Global News explaining his actions.
In the letter McGuire explains how a troubled childhood and depression lead him to “urban exploration,” as he calls it. He is also stricken with a chronic disease that leaves him exhausted. No doctors have been able to diagnose his illness, leaving him to self-diagnose it as chronic fatigue syndrome. He has used climbing as a way of coping with his depression and his chronic disease. He explains that, when he climbs, “[he is] completely lost in the moment and nothing else matters.” He is often asked if he is afraid to die because of the danger his hobby brings. To this he responds: “I am not afraid to die as long as I’m truly living. We have this one brief moment of opportunity called life, and eternity to be dead.”
McGuire has climbed over 30 cranes and over 100 rooftops, mostly in Vancouver and Victoria, including Vancouver’s Trump Tower. His social media pages and YouTube channel are filled with films and photos of his daring feats. However, he has since been arrested and is facing criminal charges.
Even celebrities are finding themselves caught up in the trend. Steve-O, star of Jackass, was recently arrested and criminally charged for climbing a crane in Hollywood. He was protesting the treatment of killer whales at SeaWorld.
Since McGuire’s daring videos went viral, even more videos have gone up showing the climbing of multiple skyscrapers through a variety of cities. It has become a worrying trend for police who fear that others will try to imitate the videos without realizing how dangerous it really is. Already, police have caught two teenagers in North Vancouver attempting to climb a crane at a construction site. Christopher Schneider, a professor at Wilfred Laurier University, told CBC News that the rise in urban free climbers may be a result of social media and the popularity of the videos already out there.
Whatever reason there may be for urban climbers to do what they are doing, it is still very dangerous. Many of the climbers are not equipped with proper climbing gear. The sheer magnitude of the climb means that one mistake could very well result in death.