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Free climber jailed for scaling The Shard conquers 36-storey Stratosphere Tower

·3 min read

A free climber who was jailed for scaling The Shard has conquered a second London skyscraper less than a year after his release.

George King-Thompson, 21, said he climbed the 36-storey Stratosphere Tower in Stratford, east London, on Tuesday morning to draw attention to climate change.

The former personal trainer chose the residential block because it overlooked Pudding Mill Lane Tube station which flooded last week following torrential downpours in the capital.

Mr King-Thompson, from Oxford, said: “I picked this climb because a couple of weeks ago I saw a photo go viral of a Stratford station under water because of a flood following the heatwave.

“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?

Free climber George King
George King-Thompson said he scaled the Stratosphere Tower building, to raise awareness about climate change (Yui Mok/PA)

“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 after starting his ascent at 5am 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.

Free climber George King
The free climber decided to scale a second skyscraper while serving a prison sentence for climbing The Shard (Yui Mok/PA)

“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.”

He added: “I gained a lot from this experience. I come away from each climb enlightened.

“It’s an indescribable feeling – it’s like trying to describe a colour to a blind person. The feeling I get from doing these things is just out of this world.”

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

Free climber George King-Thompson
The climber said he had thought he was going to slip during his early morning stunt (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr King-Thompson, who shares his climbs on his Instagam as @shardclimber, said: “I decided to do it as I came out of prison to be honest, or maybe inside prison.

“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.”

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

The force said in a statement: “Police were called at approximately 5.42am on Tuesday August 3 after a man was spotted at height on Great Eastern Road, Stratford.

Free climber George King
A woman takes a photo as the climber pauses during an ascent of the Stratosphere Tower (Yui Mok/PA)

“Officers attended along with National Police Air Service helicopter.

“Officers carried out a thorough search of the area and found no trace of anybody matching the description.”

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 (1,017ft), 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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