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Interview: Mike Robertson on His Eiffel Tower Protest Solo
Robertson, arrested after seventy minutes of climbing and hiding on the Eiffel Tower. [Photo] Pete Lash / Courtesy of www.ukclimbing.com
Alpinist shared a second set of emails with Robertson a few weeks after the event.
I was curious if you had any thoughts on the Eiffel Tower climb now, a few weeks later?
I've been knocked off my feet by the level of support. It does seem that even folk who don't usually support such actions are, in this case, taking a look at the Burma/Total situation, and being very supportive of what I did. I've been delighted to see plenty of press coverage over here, including a double-page center-spread in The Guardian. I wanted to put Burma back into the news, and I think I achieved that. Futuristically, I have a few more potential plans on the Burma situation, but I can't talk about them here! And I have a further goal—to get more involved in human rights photography abroad—that's something I'm currently working on.
Have there been any legal repercussions in the intervening weeks?
There are no repercussions that I'm aware of... I'm not banned from visiting France. But the director of the Tower is not so happy with me! I think I lost him money when he shut down the lift for a while; I did apologize before I left...
You've got a new project right now, isn't that correct?
The Sony project is one that I've been working on for some six months now. Climbing buildings "legally" takes a massive amount of setting up! I'm promoting their new Alpha 700 DSLR camera. It's an exciting project to take pictures of fresh, unseen images of iconic buildings and their surroundings, and is taking place in the UK right now. We're using lead climbing skills on most of the buildings, with the exception of a Midlands skyscraper next week—that one's a top rope, and probably a 230ft, 5.12b.
Can I just say that I'm very grateful to Sony for their understanding over the Paris protest—I gave them no warning before I did it, and I probably should have.
Though there are a multitude of reasons that we climb—more often than not summarized by the media in pithy, sound-bite phrases like Mallory's "Because it's there"—Mike Roberts gave a more concrete reason in a forum post on UKClimbing.com:
Burma does seem to have once more been left hanging by the newspapers... and that's the reason I did it.
There might be plenty of arguments for either side (some folk might even be on Total's side, God forbid), but we all have to do what we feel we need to do. I wrote a letter to Total and got an unfavorable response, and my answer was to drive to Paris. I can't explain it any better than that.
The man you need to talk to is one Jean-Francois Lassalle. He's the Vice President for Total Public Affairs, and you can write to him at 2 place de La Coupole, La Defense 6, 92078 Paris. So go and hound him.
In response to the negative reactions - I don't give a shit. I risked a jail term to do what I believed in. Maybe we should all do that more often.
Resources for further study:
Sources: Mike Robertson, UKClimbing, Total, Human Rights Watch