No. Not high like that.
Let’s look into one of the most popular (and dangerous) form of Urbex: one that will re-define the phrase “living on the edge”: the exploration of rooftops.
This ludicrous activity is also known as “Rooftoping” or “Roofing”. If you really want to be pompous about it -and who doesn’t ?, I think the geeky term would be “Stegazophillia”. From the Greek “Stagazo” for roof, and “philia”, for love. But then, as a friend said to me recently, why not call it “Roof Porn” ?
Anyways, rooftopping (let’s call it that) refers to the ascent of rooftops (who would have guessed?), cranes, antennas, smokestacks and other tall chimneys. Good places to go high, include large building residences, public sites, churches or administration. It is undoubtedly very “Urbex”. So fuckin’ rebel. With a bit of moonlight you become a living cliché.
This is of course, usually done illegally, and hence mostly at night. It is accomplished by clandestine access to off-limits staircases, roof hatches, ladders, a.k.a infiltration (see here). Some people, like french tightrope walker Philipe Petit, will stay hidden for long hours after a building’s shut down, in order to get access to his destination.
It goes without saying that you can always try to obtain legal access, especially in the context of interviews (Monsignore, why don’t we do the interview in the bell tower ?) or photographic reports.
One can take AMAZING images on rooftops (bring a tripod and a remote !).
Not to mention the feeling of having the world at your feet. The visit of these places, without anyone to disturb your tranquility, becomes a privileged moment of calm and relaxation. It’s as Zen as it gets.
My only problem with Rooftoping is that it is mostly done by millennial seeking social-media exposure (especially in Russia). Hence your chances of meeting complete wankers during your exploration, are rather high. Adding insult to injury, the said wankers tend to bring attention to places, usually resulting in heightened security and greater restriction against access. So much for Zen, then. (ha, see what I did there ?)
Evidently, of all forms of Urban Explorations, this is perhaps the one where safety is the number one issue.
I am not going to tell you to use fall protection safety equipment. It would be nice if you could. But, then again, it would be nice if unicorn existed.
Try to follow these general rules though:
- Be (completely) sober: you’ll get enough adrenaline and endorphins from this, to trip balls;
- Always stay on fixed ground (platform or otherwise);
- Unless absolutely necessary (and I mean really, really necessary) stay behind safety rails;
- Use the buddy system and tell someone outside where you are heading (see here)
- Do NOT drop anything below !! Keep your shit tucked away: you can kill yourself if you wanna, do not take anyone along !!
So is rooftoping for you ? Probably not, but then again, none of this shit probably is. Do I partake in this nonsense ? Well, yes. But to be completely honest, while I explore roofs and heights in most of my Urbex outings, it has never been my primary destination. It’s been the source of my best “near-miss” stories though. It can be some freaky stuff. If nothing else, it prooved to me once and for all that I had no cardiac issues.
Why do I do it then ? Well. Because it’s there !!