No ropes, no safety gear, and sometimes hundreds -- if not thousands -- of feet above ground; welcome to the life of a “skywalker.” Now flooding Instagram and YouTube with videos that would make iron-clad stomachs queasy, these urban explorers are obsessed with invading, and sometimes free-climbing, rooftops where they don’t belong. It’s about “seeing spaces that you aren’t supposed to, or spaces that are closed off to the public,” says SVVK, a Manhattan-based rooftopper and photographer. “That was what drew my attention… I was seeing what was behind the closed door.”
But when you balance risks like felony charges and the chance of taking one wrong, fateful step off the side of a building, the obvious question here is: Why? “Rooftopping is something I need to do,” says Tom Ryaboi, better known as Roof Topper on Instagram. “It’s beyond a hobby or even a passion. I feel like I need to go on roofs to stay sane.”
Because I probably need to say this for legal reasons and for my own conscience, please don’t try any of this at home.