December 15, 2017

"An excerpt from the video of Mr. Wu’s last moments shows him on top of the building, clad in black with his hair pulled back from his face, meticulously and repeatedly wiping the ledge."

"He swung his legs over the edge and partially hung there, clutching it with the full length of his arms, before pulling himself up and sitting down to wipe the edge again. Then he swung his legs over one by one for a final time. He did two pull-ups into the void, gripping the ledge. Attempting a third, he appeared to struggle, trying to find a hold with one foot after the other. A small sound resembling a human voice, perhaps a whimper, can be heard on the recording. Then he dropped...."

I can read the text — from "Death of Man in Skyscraper Fall in China Puts a Spotlight on 'Rooftopping'" (NYT)— but I will not watch the video.

This is another one for you to distance yourself from death by saying "Darwin effect" or "He died doing what he loved," but it's still terrible. RIP Wu Yongning.

Anyway... rooftopping....
“There are different flavors — those who are doing it for the pure purpose of cityscape photography and those who are doing it for the thrill to post on Instagram and YouTube,” [said Daniel Cheong, 55, a professional cityscape photographer].... “The goal is to capture the cityscape...The attraction really has nothing to do with the fact that you go to the 100th floor. It is purely for composition.”
Then there are those who sneak without permission onto buildings — and even pry or cut their way through locks. Some of these people are into the dare-deviltry and concentrate on photographing not the cityscape, but themselves... taking risks.

52 comments:

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I had some interest years ago in photos taken by people who go where they are not supposed to--past the "no trespassing" signs, but not necessarily cutting locks. This wasn't necessarily about going high--although there are certainly some dramatic shots from up there--and there might even be an emphasis on avoiding danger. People would go into abandoned subway stations, or the tunnels between stations (watch for trains), or various kinds of hidden or partly hidden tunnels. Old hotels would actually have a 13th floor; it might be re-numbered, or might be used for storage. Sometimes several floors would be at various stages of renovation. Of course there are abandoned sites like shopping malls, state institutions including mental institutions, etc. I find quite a bit of it interesting. It's like seeing the "other side" of our world--the basement where few people go, the secret rooms and passageways that might reveal how things are actually done, or how they work and don't work.

I think "Infiltration" was one of the first sites I went to. http://www.infiltration.org/transit-subway.html

rhhardin said...

Women can't do any pull-ups so aren't going to overestimate that way.

Kate said...

We need to get off this rock. Humans want exploration, and when they can't get it in constructive ways, they go dark.

rehajm said...

those who are doing it for the pure purpose of cityscape photography and those who are doing it for the thrill to post on Instagram and YouTube

A way for 'legitimate' photographer to try and differentiate but feels like a distinction without a difference. Drones make dramatic cityscape photography, too.

JML said...

“Everyone who dies out there dies of confusion.”

― Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival - Who Lives, Who Dies and Why

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This is another one for you to distance yourself from death by saying "Darwin effect" or "He died doing what he loved," but it's still terrible. RIP Wu Yongning.

No.... it may be terrible but it is stupid and pointless

Purposely putting yourself into danger by 'rooftopping' or tightrope walking OR mountain climbing....with the difference that when you get lost or trapped mountain climbing OTHER people will put themselves in danger to save your sorry, self absorbed ass.

At least this guy only took himself out of the gene pool and didn't waste other people's time and safety for his own personal thrill seeking.

Some people may say that climbing to the highest point on Earth has some scientific value and I might give you that point.

What redeeming societal value did this stunt have? How big of a splat a 150 pound guy can make when dropped a hundred stories? I think the Muslims are already working on that data.

(empathy quotient set at zero)

Michael McClain said...

Dumbass.

james james said...

On the Ave outside the bar you'll occasionally see the Skateboard Kids. As the name implies, they are teenagers -- and sometimes those teenagers who are actually well into their twenties -- who skateboard down the southward incline of the street. Going the other direction, they hitch on the back of buses to pull them on their way.

Most are just passing from points A to B, striking a pose of practiced insouciance on their boards. Some, though: the street and its cars are a challenge, a slalom. There is a crosswalk mid-street by the University Bookstore, so pedestrians sometimes become needles to be threaded. Sometimes a particular needle doesn't get threaded successfully, and people go down. sometimes that includes an elderly person. No one expects the Skateboard Inquisition.

On those occasions a firetruck is called; the police arrive. The skateboarder is long gone, of course: they elderly person is sitting on the curb by then, attended to by kind strangers. Kind strangers; Seattle still has some of those.

Outside the bookstore entrance there are frequently young adults collecting signatures for one cause or another: an environmental group, Planned Parenthood. Sometimes these people help; sometimes they continue to coax passing people into signing their list, hopefully with a donation. You can make a difference. You can also make a difference by helping the old lady who just got bowled over, but they want to make Big Differences. Which require signatures. And donations.

There is a cross-street just south of the bookstore. It doesn't matter if the light is green or red, most of the Skateboard Kids have committed to racing through. Usually they make it. Once in awhile though, they crash into the side of a car that has pulled out to make a turn. A few of these meetings end with the skateboarder flying over the hood of the car, landing on the other side. They are young: they typically bounce right up, retrieve their skateboard and leave, the driver now looking at his car for damage. And telling what just happened to somebody on the other side of their cellphone.

Infrequently, the Skateboard kid doesn't get up. Or gets up, only to stagger to the curb and sit down, hunched over and hurting. On those occasions a firetruck is called; the police arrive. Most people walk by. Some are smiling as they do: these people are tired of the Skateboard Menace, and mentally chalk one up on their side of the scoreboard. Karma and Gravity.

- james james

buwaya said...

Europe conquered the world with expeditions full of desperate, driven characters like this young man.

Anything new in the world depends on people like this. If your culture makes no more, or if they are suppressed and mafe to be safe, then you are static and dying.

He would, I think, have been welcome in the merry band of Cortez. That bunch was quite multicultural actually, there were a few blacks and Moors.

Owen said...

These rooftoppers who end up as a street-level mess,...what about the people they hit? Or just sicken with a spray of blood and guts?

They are taking risks with a lot more than their own little lives.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Europe conquered the world with expeditions full of desperate, driven characters like this young man.

Anything new in the world depends on people like this


@ buwaya

What advancement to society, science or other great new thing has this stunt advanced?

As I said: a mountain climbing expedition (not one done just for bragging and ego purposes as many hobbyists do today) can have some scientific and/or societal advancements. New knowledge gained, equipment improved that can be used for other explorations. Proving you can do pull ups, failing and falling off of a building for no purpose doesn't seem akin to discovering a whole "New World". (Which wasn't all that new to the people already living there.....but I digress)

If he wanted to discover something new or be a brave explorer....he chose poorly.

Jim said...

Are you with me Doctor Wu?
Are you really just a shadow
Of the man that I once knew?
Are you crazy are you high
Or just an ordinary guy?
Have you done all you can do?
Are you with me Doctor?

MadisonMan said...

Jim, that's a great song.

Jim said...

MM, thank you.

walter said...

Another one to distance ourselves from self-inflicted death.

J. Farmer said...

@Dust Bunny Queen:

Proving you can do pull ups, failing and falling off of a building for no purpose doesn't seem akin to discovering a whole "New World".

I don't want to speak for anyone, but that is not how I read byway's comment at all. I don't think he was saying that the acts were akin but the human impulse that drove those acts were related. And I do agree with that. You also tend to see this stuff with men rather than women (hunting versus nesting). Plus there is an appetite to witness daredevilism. Evel Knievel made a career out of it. Philippe Petit became quite a sensation after his tightrope walk across the WTC in the 1970s. Hell, today men subject themselves to all manor of destructive brain and bodily injuries for the enjoyment of the masses.

buwaya said...

Its not the activity, its the personality.
This fellow chose to do this.
An unproductive thing.

Others choose to do other things, which you may find more useful - but everything new that man has done has seemed useless, or extremely dangerous to the mass, at the time.

The choice is random. Sometimes this most essential of human beings do things that create, often, if not usually, they fail. But the value of it all is not in the individual cases.

The most evil thing people can do to humanity is to create safety.

mockturtle said...

DBQ supposes: As I said: a mountain climbing expedition (not one done just for bragging and ego purposes as many hobbyists do today) can have some scientific and/or societal advancements. New knowledge gained, equipment improved that can be used for other explorations.
Italics mine.

I've known more than a few mountain climbers and not one--no, not even one--climbs to increase scientific knowledge. Conquering the seemingly unconquerable is in our blood.

mockturtle said...

J. Farmer observes: You also tend to see this stuff with men rather than women (hunting versus nesting).

Maybe in general but I have several female friends who are climbers. Two of them have done the Seven Summits. Seattle has a large climbing community of both genders.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I've known more than a few mountain climbers and not one--no, not even one--climbs to increase scientific knowledge. Conquering the seemingly unconquerable is in our blood. >

I agree, somewhat. I said "may be" or "can have" (without the italics) "some" value in mountain climbing. Perhaps the first few times to the top of Everest with a scientific crew.

I agree that most climbers are just thrill seekers. Not that there is anything wrong with thrill seeking....everyone does it otherwise we wouldn't have invented Roller Coasters :-) Just don't draw everyone else into your self absorbed fantasy.

Every year there are people who climb a famous mountain near where I live. Most are intelligent, are prepared, experienced, sane. Many others are just plain morons who have no business climbing a mountain, much less hiking on a paved trail.

They go out in January! when a storm is predicted, without proper gear and then get stuck, or injured. Using their magical cell phones they call for help. Then people who are sane and who are staying inside during a blizzard, must put themselves in danger to climb, helicopter, and otherwise try to save these dumbasses. If these idiots aren't mountain climbing, they are getting lost on dirt roads and dying in the snow.

All this is at the cost of many many thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to (every damned year it seems) save these dopes. Climb if you must. I'll even hold your beer.....I might take a sip.

I've been deer hunting in these wilderness areas and know that it can be very dangerous if you aren't prepared, equipped, trained, aware of your environmental circumstances and need a crew/group of otherwise prepared people with you. I have no sympathy for people who are just thrill seeking for no other purpose than self gratification at the expense of other people.

Oso Negro said...

@Buwaya and Mockturtle - Seeking new lands in a well-equipped expedition is one thing. I do it all the time. You expect profit and not death. Thrill-seeking for the adrenal rush is something I put by the way decades ago. I still have the scars, though.

buwaya said...

But these expeditions were not well equipped even by the standards of the time. Most of these ventures were desperate affairs. My ancestor went off to conquer with one small ship, 70 Visayan sailors and his mistress.

David said...

He died making a serious consequential mistake. I doubt that he loved making mistakes.

mockturtle said...

Oso, climbers I know do not do it for the 'adrenaline rush'. They do it to succeed. To meet the challenge. To realize their own potential. My stepson is a surgeon and also, until recently, a climber. About half the climbers I know are physicians with full and active lives. The one thing they all seem to have in common is a drive for achievement.

MadisonMan said...

All this is at the cost of many many thousands of dollars of taxpayer money

Aren't they billed? Like I'm billed if I have to ride in an ambulance?

buwaya said...

My ancestor went off to conquer as a commercial venture.
A very desperate commercial venture, at extreme risk of not just loss but life, for all concerned.

This was typical even of the 19th century. Marchand with his Senegalese marched into the blue with no idea what he would find or how he would be supplied. Richard Burton and Speke even less. The examples are numerous beyond counting, and these are just the successful ones. There were failures beyond counting, beyond documentation. Someone or some band would just never be heard of again.

Repeat for every human culture, ever.

mockturtle said...

BTW, there is no adrenaline rush in climbing a major summit. It's months of careful and laborious preparation, weeks of acclimation and days of sheer misery. It only makes sense, I guess, to climbers.

walter said...

MadisonMan said...Aren't they billed? Like I'm billed if I have to ride in an ambulance?
--
Probably comes out of a "natural disaster" fund..

buwaya said...

I recommend Prescott's "Conquest of Peru", for an idea of just how ragtag and bobtail, blind and haphazard Pizarro's expeditions were (there were several that came to the edge of destruction, and that was before they even managed to get to Peru). And then consider all those others that had no survivors.

The survival odds of a modern thrillseeker are enormously better.

J. Farmer said...

@mockturtle:

Maybe in general but I have several female friends who are climbers. Two of them have done the Seven Summits. Seattle has a large climbing community of both genders.

I was not really referring to mountain climbing, per se, which I would not put in the category of thrill seeking. I was talking more about daredevil or thrill-seeking behavior. And the examples I gave were Evel Knievel and Philippe Petit. I would put Wu in that category rather than compare him to a mountain climber. The risk of death is part of the thrill. And I would also see it as an expression of a kind of extreme individualism, and I don't understanding Dust Bunny Queen's question of "What redeeming societal value did this stunt have," as if human beings are simply cogs in a giant social machine. Perhaps what Wu did had only meaning for himself. And that is okay.

rehajm said...

All this is at the cost of many many thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to (every damned year it seems) save these dopes.

I have a relative who's in to the wingsuit thing. When he goes to Switzerland he's requited to purchase a special rescue and recovery policy before he can jump off a cliff.

The rescue part of the policy is a bit of a scam.

Caligula said...

Is this somehow different from all those "slipped off the south rim of the Grand Canyon while taking a photo" incidents?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Aren't they billed? Like I'm billed if I have to ride in an ambulance?

As far as I know, in California, no. They are not billed.

This is probably outdated information Search and rescue who pays

More current Who pays?

Who ultimately ends up paying for search and rescue (SAR) operations depends on many factors. If it's the Coast Guard or the National Park Service (NPS), then they pick up the bill. Or rather, the taxpaying citizens of the United States do

In our area, often it is the Counties services who are doing the SAR operation with volunteer organizations for people who don't LIVE in the county or even pay taxes within the State.

I believe this is the current law regarding Counties and SAR Law?

So...the taxpayers.

Die on your own dime!

buwaya said...

Consider also the extreme death rate of the pioneers of aviation, of the early 20th century. That lot were thrillseekers of the same taxonomic class as this fellow.

John Tuffnell said...

In a tragic accident, Chinese national Mi Hang Tu Long plunged to his death when he lost his grip on the skyscraper's edge.

Bill said...

"It is purely for composition.”

Balderdash. It is partly for composition. Exhilaration is no doubt the bigger part.

buwaya said...

"Exhileration is no doubt the bigger part"

That is true of almost anything outside the routine.

walter said...

Chin stroking does not make history that elastic.

J. Farmer said...

@Dust Bunny Queen:

So...the taxpayers.

Die on your own dime!


Given the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that goes down the drain every years, I am not sure spending money rescuing people (even from their own stupidity) is really that egregious.

Big Mike said...

I understand that Wu was hoping to make money from his stunt. I couldn’t help but think of Rob Hall and Scott Fisher on Everest in ‘96. They were doing what they loved, but they were out to make money. Lots of people do dangerous jobs for money; some are more dangerous, and spectacularly so.

Curious George said...

"J. Farmer said...
@mockturtle:

Maybe in general but I have several female friends who are climbers. Two of them have done the Seven Summits. Seattle has a large climbing community of both genders.

I was not really referring to mountain climbing, per se, which I would not put in the category of thrill seeking. I was talking more about daredevil or thrill-seeking behavior. And the examples I gave were Evel Knievel and Philippe Petit. I would put Wu in that category rather than compare him to a mountain climber. The risk of death is part of the thrill. And I would also see it as an expression of a kind of extreme individualism, and I don't understanding Dust Bunny Queen's question of "What redeeming societal value did this stunt have," as if human beings are simply cogs in a giant social machine. Perhaps what Wu did had only meaning for himself. And that is okay. "

Was okay.

Expat(ish) said...

@Caligula - Strongly reccy "Death in the Grand Canyon" for a full accounting of all known modern fatalities.

The #1 killer is the heat, followed by the river. Falling over the edge may not be in the top 5 ways people had copped it in the park.

-XC

Unknown said...

I experience vertigo just looking at those photos.

-sw

mockturtle said...

Per Big Mike: I couldn’t help but think of Rob Hall and Scott Fisher on Everest in ‘96. They were doing what they loved, but they were out to make money.

They had to make money to pay for doing what they loved. High altitude climbing is ridiculously expensive.

mockturtle said...

Regarding Search and Rescue [SAR] many participants are volunteers. Regarding organized high elevation climbing, permits must be obtained for tens of thousands of dollars which presumably help to defray the cost of rescue operations.

Yancey Ward said...

I am honestly indifferent to his death. He surely knew the risks he was taking, and paid for it. I would feel no different if he were a skydiver whose parachute didn't open, or a smoker who died from lung cancer. To me, people are free to risk their lives as they see fit since we are all going to die regardless.

mockturtle said...

I am honestly indifferent to his death.

As am I, Yancey. Having lost a few friends an co-workers to the mountains I can be philosophical about their demise knowing that they knew the risk and owned it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Regarding Search and Rescue [SAR] many participants are volunteers. Regarding organized high elevation climbing, permits must be obtained for tens of thousands of dollars which presumably help to defray the cost of rescue operations

Nope...

Not for California. Mt Shasta the mountain near us.


Do we need permits, passes or reservations?
Both wilderness permits and passes are required. Most of the area above tree line and some of the area below treeline are located within the Mt. shasta Wilderness. Permits are required for entry into the wilderness area at all times of the year, but there are no quotas or limits on the number of permits available, nor are reservations required. Permits are issued at the Mt. Shasta and McCloud Ranger District Offices, or may be self-issued at the trailheads. Permits may be self-issued at the station outside the front door of the Mt. Shasta District Office after business hours.

How much are the passes?

Standard Mt. Shasta Summit Pass: $15.00 per person
People under 16 years of age are not required to purchase a Summit Pass
Shasta Trinity Annual Pass: $25.00 per year


That's all you need.

If the SAR is in the County area instead of the Federal Lands, where ALL the taxpayers pick up the ticket, then the County has to pay for the operation. In a county area where there is sparse population, not much tax revenue..... and already can afford to have ANY law enforcement after dark, this means that those who live there, in all areas of the County, are being short changed to pay for the folly of morons from other areas of the State or from the world.

County services are already at a minimum. Why should the people who live in these areas be on the hook to help idiots who come to the area and put themselves in danger. Do you want people to come to your area and expect you to pay for their stupid mistakes?

I would be good with the intrepid explorers having to put up a bond(partially refundable) or pay a HEFTY fee for all the trouble that they might get into. But....that would make too much sense for California.

The volunteers are admirable people who put their own safety on the line to help others. 90% of our local fire departments are Volunteers with the exception of Cal Fire for wilderness lands, formerly known as CDF. (Can't Deal with Fire). My husband was a volunteer for years.

mockturtle said...

DBQ, I was referring to peaks such as Everest and K2. And in WA state, people who are rescued can receive a bill, depending on the circumstances.

Big Mike said...

They had to make money to pay for doing what they loved. High altitude climbing is ridiculously expensive.

Yes, of course. But if they were not there to make money they might have turned back when the storm started. Some of Fisher's clients were experienced high altitude climbers in their own right, and they bailed on the last stage of the climb.

mockturtle said...

Yes, of course. But if they were not there to make money they might have turned back when the storm started. Some of Fisher's clients were experienced high altitude climbers in their own right, and they bailed on the last stage of the climb.

The money was paid up front and not dependent on reaching the summit. Rob Hill made an imprudent effort to get his client to the top because he knew how important it was to him. Not because he'd get any extra money.

An interesting counterpoint to Krakauer's Into Thin Air on the 1996 tragedy on Everest was Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest written by Anatoli Boukreev.

Zach said...

“The goal is to capture the cityscape...The attraction really has nothing to do with the fact that you go to the 100th floor. It is purely for composition.”

I think he has this precisely backward. The attraction is *exclusively* that they are hanging from the 100th floor without adequate safety precautions. People can see cityscapes all the time, without any obstruction by dangling thrill seekers.

The problem, I think, is that there is a very large element of fantasy in social media, particularly in visual social media like Instagram. People are acting out daydreams, and nothing bad ever happens in a daydream.

Bad things do happen in real life, which is why movies with dangerous stunts like the Burj Khalifa scene in Mission Impossible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoYXzLSnHVE

take great precautions with safety -- even when the actor is really doing the stunts!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16BFrEBZQS4