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The Story Behind That Insane Shanghai Tower Climb

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The insane YouTube video of Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov swept across the interwebs this week, inducing vertigo everywhere. Not only was a stomach-dropping video produced, but some pretty jaw-dropping point of view photos as well. We corresponded with Vadim Makhorov, one half of Team 'ontheroofs'.

Hi Vadim, thanks for taking the time! The video of your climb is crazy, but it's not the first you've ever done. What made you so interested in climbing these landmarks?

Yes, we do have a lot of videos. We started shooting them ever since we climbed the Moscow Bridge in Kiev. We climbed to the pylon right by the cables that time. The video got more than 1.5 million views.

We climb to the top of buildings to see the city from an unusual angle. But this is just a small part of what we do.

Are you particularly proud of this one?

No. How can you be proud of climbing somewhere high? I think only professional mountaineers can be proud of their ascents.

What sparked your interest in photography?

I started taking photos four years ago. It was completely random. I just took a few shots with a camera phone and I liked it, so I bought a camera and off we go.

Is photography a hobby or a profession?

There's a saying that the best hobby is the one that also feeds you. That applies here.

Do you plan out your climbs and shoots before you do them? What goes into planning it?

Yes, we do plan them. Every time it's different. It's hard to say what goes into planning. We wouldn't be too happy if other people followed in our footsteps. It's extremely dangerous.

What were you feeling during your first climb?

Unsurprisingly, I felt complete delight. You could see the whole city, and the people below me looked like ants.

Are you ever afraid of getting caught by the police?

Nope, we are not afraid. 'Hunting season' is open on us. Not because we have broken the law, but because our actions had a public outcry. The police don't like it when something goes against their rule book.

What equipment do you take with you on your shoots?

I've been shooting with Canon5D Mark III, Canon 70-200 4L, 17-40 4L. Vitaly shoots with exactly the same lenses, but Canon 6D camera instead.

Do you do any other type of photography?

Yes, we not only take photos from the roof tops, but also underground. We do take a lot of photos during our travels, but that's mostly for ourselves. I also shoot a lot of industrial shoots - factories and such.

How did you find out about 500px and what do you like about it?

It was a while ago, when 500px was just getting started. I signed up for an account at the time when you needed a promo code to get access. I wasn't active in the beginning because I thought that my photos were not worthy of being on the site.

I like 500px because you can see really great photos there. The same cannot be said about other photo sharing sites, especially Russian ones.

You guys are heroes now. What are your plans for the future?

Plans for the future? I'd love to continue to travel, and don't stop at the current progress. But apart from the travel plans we have lots of ideas. We are keeping them discreet, but you'll find out about them in the due course.

Owls. Yay or Nay?

I wonder why this is a traditional question for you? I'm pretty neutral to owls.

What are your thoughts on rooftopping? Daring or dangerous?

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