WE GOT HIGH WITH VITALIY AND VADIM FROM ON THE ROOFS
Equipped only with cameras and black masks, they scale walls and dodge security as their plan begins to unfold. Once they’re through all the checkpoints, the climb begins. With no ropes or safety equipment, just good judgment and focus, they move upward, fighting the wind and closing their mind to the 2,000 feet that separates them from the pavement. Finally, at their objective, they pull their cameras from their backpacks and let their shutters loose. Once their work hits the web, they’ll probably make the news, because the building they just scaled is likely among the tallest in the world, and the photos taken from the top are nothing short of amazing. For Vadim and Vitaliy of On The Roofs, the images they create are as much a part of their identity as the grooves on their finger tips.
By climbing and documenting the world’s most iconic buildings, including the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Shanghai Tower and the takeover of a Hong Kong sign to read “What’s up Hong Kong,” the photo duo has scaled their way to international fame and notoriety.
Between evading security, and taking in views, we talked with On The Roofs about how they approach their target buildings, their run-ins with law enforcement and of course, why the hell they’re free-climbing skyscrapers.
What’s the first building you climbed to take photos from?
Our first roofs weren’t anything special, just residential buildings, unfinished low-rise buildings under construction and derelict buildings. We started small, but as our ambition grew, we reached the height of the Shanghai Tower, the Cologne Cathedral and the Pyramid of Cheops.
What is it about getting to the top of places that keeps you climbing?
We climb up buildings and structures to their tops, mostly to see the city from a different perspective. Familiar streets and parkways look totally new when seen from above. What we do is try to show this novelty to the people with our photographs. Also, we can’t deny that trespassing on the way to roofs is always an exciting quest to solve. The main parts of it are to find a suitable building, to sneak through the guards, to climb up to the top, to take awesome shots and to leave unnoticed. Reality does not always go along with the plan, but when it doesn’t, it only makes it more exciting.