Does whatever a spider can
Updated: 2011-11-15 07:33
By Cao Yin (China Daily)
BEIJING - With his bare hands and no safety equipment, Zhang Xixin scales the outside of a five-floor building within two minutes.
China's 21-year-old Spider-Man says what he cares about most is the freedom of standing in the air. [China Daily]
Having reached the top, the thin youth looks down through his black-framed glasses and poses on the edge of the roof like Spider-Man.
"Climbing is one of my hobbies. I take it as a game," said the 21-year-old firmly.
"Tall buildings are like final monsters in a computer game and I'm the brave player," he said.
"As I stand at the foot of those high buildings, I feel I've entered game mode."
He studies ways to climb skyscrapers as he passes by, and can't help trying to climb them.
"Buildings with many stories grab my attention and I have an impulse to scramble up them," he said.
"I enjoy the feeling of rising high into the sky."
Zhang, from Linyi city of Shandong province, used to climb up to the roof of his house when he was a little boy, which always annoyed his parents.
He could go up to the top of houses more quickly than children of his age.
A scar, a reminder of falling from a roof, can be clearly seen below his left eyebrow.
He didn't become serious about scaling buildings without equipment until last September when he posted a photo online showing him atop a residential building.
But instead of people marveling at him, as he had expected, most netizens doubted the authenticity of the picture and thought he was trying to grab fame.
"I was puzzled by or even angry with those responses for a couple of days, because I really like climbing without equipment and just wanted to make friends, who are also interested in it," he said.
To prove his ability to climb, he has since challenged tall buildings, like the French climber Alain Robert, who is also known by the nickname Spider-Man.
"I admired the French man's persistence in scaling buildings," Zhang said.
"He plans before climbing, but not me. Mine are at will."
Unlike Robert, Zhang has never received any training, with TV programs of rock and structure climbing his best teacher.
"I only challenge a building once, no matter if I succeed or fail. What I care about most is the freedom of standing in the air," he said.
After Zhang began scaling buildings for real last year, his parents' calls have never stopped.
"I know mom and dad worry about me," he said in a low voice, "but I don't want to give up what I really like."
"I remembered they often ran after me when I was climbing houses a few years ago and persuaded me to keep away from this dangerous sport many times," he said seriously, adding he felt guilty for his parents.
"I know they love me very much, but it's my choice. If I told my family my current life, they'd be more concerned more about me or even stop my climbing. So that's the conflict," he said with a shrug.
Zhou Jun, his colleague at a media company in Penglai, Shandong province, said the young man was full of dreams he was trying to fulfill.
"Although I didn't agree with him doing such a dangerous sport, I admire and respect his attitude to life," he said, adding Zhang is a man who has deep thoughts and clear goals.
Recently, Zhang challenged the 37-floor tower of China Central Television's new headquarter on Nov 4.
Passers-by watched in wonder as he stood on the top of the structure, but police were not so impressed and detained him for disrupting public order.
"While I get applause or approval for climbing, I lose something at the same time, for instance detention, fines, criticism and injuries. It's a kind of balance."
He plans to visit France, which embraces an atmosphere of extreme sports.
"I'll try to scale Eiffel Tower within two years," he said.