"Spiderman" returns to China for publicity stunt

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BEIJING, Nov 19 (Reuters) French climber Alain Robert, the famed ''Spiderman'' who was briefly jailed in May and then deported for scaling Shanghai's tallest building, was back in China at the weekend, but this time going up a mountain.

And that's just how the Hunan provincial authorities wanted it.

Hoping to attract attention to the 1,518 metre (4,980 ft) Tianmen mountain in Zhangjiajie prefecture, the officials had invited the outlaw and stuntman who was certain to draw a crowd for their cause.

But this time, the 45-year-old climber, renowned for climbing the world's tallest buildings, was embraced and feted instead of deported after making a 40 minute bare-handed climb of the mountain's sheer cliffs yesterday.

''I can understand, because that was illegal,'' Robert said of his treatment after climbing Shanghai's 88-storey Jin Mao Tower. I would like to apologise (regarding the previous incident). For me this is good. I think it shows the people of China are open-minded.'' Zhangjiajie is also home to Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The French thrill-seeker polished his rock-climbing skills in the French Alps before turning to buildings in 1994. But he was satisfied with the challenge of climbing Tianmen mountain, all of which was recorded by Hunan TV.

''I think it (was) a bit difficult, but I like the place,'' Robert told Reuters.

But he said he had no intention to stop climbing buildings.

''At this point of my life, I am having a lot of fun climbing buildings -- climbing Jin Mao was ''as easy as a ladder'', through climbing buildings I can discover the world, different people and different cultures.'' Since Robert made his daring climb of the Jin Mao Tower, China has briefly detained five other people who have attempted to climb the tower without approval.

Reuters SKB VP0903

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