The challenger in Moscow
“Why do I do it? Because I’m good at it. I’m one of the very few people in the world who can do it. My favourite ever was the Princess Tower in Dubai. That was 101 floors, 400m in the air – an unbeatable view. But you can’t see it any more, sadly: they closed the roof… after my visit.”
In the photo above, Oleg Sherstyachenko balances high up on the construction site of the Marina 101 tower in Dubai, UAE, which is set to be the world’s tallest residential building. The photo below was taken in Moscow.
Don’t miss the brand new show URBEX – Enter At Your Own Risk, from Aug 1 on Red Bull TV!
Vertigo in Los Angeles
“The whole urban exploration thing began for me two years ago when I saw a YouTube video of these two guys climbing on a crane – I got an adrenalin rush just from watching it.“
“Shortly after, a friend from photography school showed me pictures he’d shot from the tops of skyscrapers in LA. We set off for the tallest residential building we could find close by, and when we got there we slipped past security and climbed 40 flights of stairs.
It was just like being in a movie. At the top, there was a door with a warning in big letters saying that an alarm would be triggered if we opened it. ‘Screw that,’ we thought. So we opened the door and there, in front of our eyes, was the sun going down over the city. It was like a moment of enlightenment.
My buddy said that I should sit on the edge of the building for a photograph. I was still scared of heights back then, but I mustered all my strength, conquered my fear, swung my legs over the ledge and let them dangle there – and bang, there was another rush of adrenalin. Right from that moment, I’ve never been able to get enough of this kind of adventure.”
Time stands still in Copenhagen
“People test their limits in almost every sport you can think of – why else would skaters hurtle over stairwells, surfers ride huge waves, or skiers take on superpipes? I discovered Urbex via the photos of Anders G – he’s the head honcho on the Copenhagen scene. Since then, my eyes have always drifted upwards to the rooftops above the city whenever I’m out, to see if I might discover one of the explorers, or to wonder how I might get up there myself.
When I finally managed to get in touch with Anders, he took me to the Golden Girls [a tower in Copenhagen with sculptures of two female figures that indicate the weather]. We climbed up pipes and stairs, and when we got to the top and looked down over the city, it was as if time had stood still.”
A curious kid in a submarine bunker
“I’ve been driven by curiosity ever since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted to explore abandoned, unusual places. I had no idea there was an actual name for it; I just wanted to know what was hidden behind this wall or that imposing structure.
The first place that I really explored was a World War II submarine bunker. It was a huge complex, a real maze of a place. I spent hours in there – I felt like Indiana Jones! That feeling has never gone away. I’ve been on the lookout for new places ever since. I’ve travelled around France, all over Europe, and I shot my first film, Urban Escape, in the US. And that was only the beginning.”
Parkour, just a lot higher up
“Undue risk? That’s not the way I see it. I’m so well prepared that every one of my ventures is safe. To start with, I had no idea that I was a rooftopper; I thought it was just part of my training as a parkour runner, only higher up than normal.”
Rebellion in Melbourne
“The photography is the main thing for me. That’s my passion and the reason I set myself these challenges, regardless of how long it takes me to reach my goal. A lot of people say, ‘Anyone can take a photo,’ and maybe that’s basically true because, after all, the camera is only a tool.
But your perspective changes when you take your camera to extreme heights, or to the front line of a war. I don’t see urban exploration as any more dangerous than taking the train or driving. We’re taught to avoid risk to live a long and healthy life, but that attitude also makes us ignore our passions and dreams.”
Inspiration in Egypt
“For me, it’s all about the photographs,” says Vadim Makhorov.
“That’s why I always lug several kilos of hardware around with me. I climbed alone at first. Then I met Vitaliy [Raskalov] in St Petersburg and a whole new chapter began.
My most inspiring project to date has been [scaling and taking photos on] the Great Pyramid of Giza.”
Urban explorers on Red Bull TV
To find out more about urban exploration and rooftopping and, featuring stunning footage of the controversial exponents in this article, don’t miss URBEX – Enter At Your Own Risk, from Aug 1 on Red Bull TV.