Free climber scales Stratford skyscraper for climate change awareness

A woman takes a photo as free-solo climber George King pauses during an ascent of the Stratosphere T

A woman takes a photo as free-solo climber George King-Thompson pauses during an ascent of the Stratosphere Tower building. - Credit: PA

A free climber who scaled a skyscraper in Stratford this morning (August 3) says he did it to draw attention to climate change.

George King-Thompson, 21, climbed up the outside of the 36-storey Stratosphere Tower in Great Eastern Road at about 5am  - less than a year after his release from jail for scaling The Shard in July 2019.

The former personal trainer said he chose the residential block because it overlooked Pudding Mill Lane DLR station in Stratford, which flooded last week following torrential downpours.

Free-solo climber George King climbs the Stratosphere Tower building, a 36-storey residential tower

Free-solo climber George King-Thompson climbs the Stratosphere Tower building, a 36-storey residential tower block in Stratford on Tuesday August 3, 2021. - Credit: PA

Mr King-Thompson, from Oxford, said: “It was a stark reminder of how bad climate change is getting, so I thought: what can I do to help promote the message - me of not much power in this world?

“I saw one of the tallest buildings in Stratford so decided last week to climb it, and since then it has just been intense preparation to get me to that point.

“I would urge political leaders to take drastic action as soon as possible to get this situation under control.”

Mr King said it took him less than 30 minutes to reach the roof, but he did feel worried at one point when his grip began to slip.

“The night before, there’s always a lot of pressure when you know you’ve got to climb first thing in the morning, so the nerves were high, the fear was there, but I had it under control and by morning time I went and did it – and I’m alive,” he said.

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“But one of the things which I underestimated was how from eight floors right to the top the windows had lots of stuff on them and they were extremely slippery.

“That was the only fear and disconcerting thing about it.”

Free-solo climber George King climbs the Stratosphere Tower building, a 36-storey residential tower

George King-Thompson during the climb of the residential tower block in Great Eastern Road, Stratford. - Credit: PA

When asked whether his six-month stay in Pentonville Prison deterred him from illegally scaling a second skyscraper, Mr King-Thompson said he decided to complete the feat while still behind bars.

“I climbed with a roof below, so if I were to fall, I’d fall upon the roof,” he added.

“I was at zero danger to the public and caused no disruption, so all considering, I’m all good.”

Free-solo climber George King stands at the top of the Stratosphere Tower building, a 36-storey resi

George King-Thompson stands at the top of the 36-storey Stratosphere Tower building. - Credit: PA

The Metropolitan Police said they used a police helicopter to search the area after they received a call about 5.42am, but could not locate the climber.

Mr King-Thompson was previously sentenced after admitting breaching a High Court injunction by scaling The Shard, which is one of Europe’s tallest buildings at 310 metres, on July 8, 2019.

Teighmore Limited, the owners of The Shard, brought legal proceedings against him for breaching an injunction designed to deter trespassers.

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