Defying Gravity: 'Birdman' and 'French Spiderman'

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As Robert put on a Spiderman costume, he described being very nervous but having just one goal -- to scale the building without using a harness or safety net. His only aid: climbing shoes.

"I need to be very, very fast, this is nearly like a race," said Robert.

Robert needed to be fast to dodge security at the 88-story skyscraper. Quickly the police converged and a crowd gathered, cheering him on, but he said the attention doesn't affect him.

"I love, you know, kicking the ass of the society, you know something illegal," Robert said. "Most people in a way they are dreaming of doing something like this, but they don't have the guts to do it."

Following the illegal climb, Robert was arrested and spent five days in jail before he was deported. He was banned from China for five years, but the ban was lifted later that year, and he was invited back to scale a mountain.

'French Spiderman' at Home

Today, when he's not climbing, Robert is at home with his wife and sons, who, he said, understand what he does.

"I ask him are you well prepared, are you training enough," said his wife. "I accept him the way he is."

He drew a contrast between managed and unmanaged risks. He manages his risks, he said -- but he yells at his wife for smoking, which he calls an unmanaged risk.

"This is not a managed risk when you smoke," Robert said. "When you smoke you are building your own tomb. When I climb, if you're mentally and physically prepared, you minimize the risk."

To increase his odds of survival, Robert trains constantly. There's even a rock climbing ceiling in his bedroom. Although he said it is tiring, Robert has no thoughts of retirement.

"For me, climbing is as important as eating, breathing, sleeping," Robert said. "I don't want to change my life."

And conquering his fear of heights is like a reward for Robert.

"I won't say I am dominating heights, but at least I am capable to dominate my fear," said Robert.

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