Ain’t no building high enough for Russia’s “roofers”

 They call themselves “roofers.” However, they don’t build roofs – they scale them. The higher the roof, the better.


The "roofers" visit Ukraine.


They call themselves “roofers.” However they don’t build roofs – they scale them. The higher the roof, the better.


Russians are notorious for pushing the boundaries of extreme pastimes. The new hit this year is “roofing” – climbing to the top of skyscrapers, bridges, chimneys and other man-made constructions, and then taking photos to document their achievements. Roofers rarely seek permission, and run the risk of taking a trip to the police station if they get caught. Some climb alone; others in groups. The most famous of these groups is that of Vitaly Raskalov and his friends.


The view from an electrical plant in Moscow.

“We climb up drain pipes as a very last resort”

Raskalov is 18 years old and lives in Moscow.


Our team was created a year ago. Most of us are students. There’s me, Vadim from Novosibirsk, Kirill from Moscow, and Dima from Minsk. Each one of us had some previous experience climbing. We all found each other on the Internet and started to climb together.


I myself started climbing two years ago after a friend initiated me. I got hooked right away. On my second time I climbed onto a roof alone. I wasn't really prepared and it was very scary. But everything worked out well in the end.


To get up to the roofs, we mostly use fire escapes, open attics and so on. The most extreme way to get up there is to use drain pipes. But we use that method only as a last resort.


Sometimes we have to give up, but it happens quite rarely. For example, there's this one building in Moscow that houses the Hydroproject firm. We wanted to get onto the roof but gave up after our first try. The building is secured with magnetic locks and there are alarms everywhere.


On the monument to Peter the Great in Moscow.


"Our dream is to make it to the top of the Moscow State University building"


Our first big victory was reaching the top of one of Moscow 's Seven Sisters skyscrapers. I was so overwhelmed that I can't even describe it. And our biggest achievement so far is that we were the first to go up the Peter the Great monument in Moscow.


Our dream is to make it to the top of the Moscow State University building. It's going to be very difficult. The entrance is guarded by police, and to get inside you have to have a student card from this university. The top floors are under 24/7 surveillance by officers from the Federal Security Service. The rumour is that this is because the spike on the roof serves as a secret communications antenna. So, we don't really know what to expect up there!”


Zhivopisny bridge in Moscow.


In Kiev, Ukraine.


The Krasnye Vorota, a building built under Stalin, in Moscow.


The clocktower above the intelligence bureau in Minsk, Belarus. 


All of these photos were taken by Vitaly Raskalov and published on his blog.



The "roofers" climb down a building after getting reprimanded by security.