Walk and Think: Buildering 101


What’s going on Walk and Think Audience?

A here, and today’s topic will be Buildering.

So, what is Buildering?

Buildering is: Climbing on the outside of buildings(climbing around inside is infiltration) and other structures.

The term “buildering” is a combo of “building” and bouldering. It’s done without ropes or protection far off the ground and often done at night.

Why at night? Mainly because the staff of the building has gone home, and you won’t disturb anyone walking around on the roof.

As I’ve already covered here, the easiest way I have found up has been pipes. Gas or electrical, take your pick.

In this post we’ll talk a bit about other aspects of it.

First, lets cover some vexations you will experience, when you are buildering.

#1. People

Yes, people will stop, and stare at you. If they are really entitled types, they will yell at you(this actually happened to me multiple times). They may film you on their phone.

They may call the police, thinking you are a nutcase, getting ready to jump off something high.

The best way to avoid people is to go late at night. Early morning is ok, however beware of dew and moisture on climbing surfaces.

I’ve always operated from around sundown, well into the night, until 02 or 03. Much cooler at night as well, so you will sweat less.

Another great way to minimize spectators, is to climb in industrial areas, away from the city center. Almost no foot traffic here, and none at night. Drivers don’t usually look up and wont see you.

If you want to go fully pro, wear some dark colors.

Not black, as that stands out sharply at night(contrary to popular belief). Wear dark blues/grays/browns. My uniform used to be dark grey sweats, and a dark blue or black long sleeve.

Don’t expect people to understand what you’re doing, and that you just want to explore your city.

They’ll think your trying to steal something, or are a daredevil, or a bunch of other such nonsense. Oh well. If you get heat, just leave, and go to a different place.

#2. Gutters

We’re talking about those flimsy metal gutters. Gutter drain pipes are extremely flimsy, and useless for climbing. I have found only a handful of sturdy ones, the rest were like tin-foil.

A gutter trim around a roof makes is near impossible to climb. And if you go after the roof anyway, you may bend/damage the gutter in the process.

No way to grip them without tearing them off the roof, and no way to put any pressure on them without bending.

Just an annoyance. Give me brick or metal trim any day. Gutters be damned.


Pictured above is, what we used to call a “Ladder system”. A combination of hold, and platforms, as easy to climb as a ladder would be.

Notice the gutter trim, which is annoying, but in this case, poses no problem.

Route would go like this:

Utility boxes>Overhang one>Overhang two>Rooftop

Tip for overhangs: Stay close to the wall, to minimize leverage against the supporting beams.

Level: Easiest(Ladder System)

#3. Anti-climb paint

Anti-climb paint or gel. I though this was a myth, and didn’t exist. It was like hearing stories about people who saw an alien spacecraft.

Until I actually ran into some myself.

There was a low billboard atop a hill, located on bearing 070, 1.5 miles from my old base of operations.

Now, the local kids always terrorized that board with low-quality graffiti “art”.

I had always ignored the climb, as it was short(maybe 7-8ft, until the base of the sign), and payed it no mind.

One day I was deviating off my usual walking route, I decided to check it out, just because. Been walking around here for years, never checked it out, might as well.

I immediately scoped out a route up, and began climbing. Caught me by surprise, how slippery this metal pipe was. Took 4 times the effort to complete the 6ft joke of a climb.

Upon coming down, I realized, I actually just got myself covered in anti-climb paint/gel. Mainly my shoes, and some on my hands.

I inspected the pipes, and notices a squiggle of yellow-ish paste running up and down each pipe. Holy crap, I actually found some anti-climb paint!

I filed away the memory, and resumed my walk.

Was anti-climb paint effective? Sort of, on a longer pipe, it may have been more annoying. It’s mainly just kinda dirty/sticky. Wouldn’t deter anyone who was determined. Would deter someone who wants to keep their shoes clean.

#4. Spikes/Sharp Metal

Now, spikes are not places to deter climbers, they are for birds. To prevent birds from nesting/sitting in that spot. So they don’t crap on everything.

These are only a hazard if you are not paying attention.

Or you are reaching for a grip you cannot see.

Never had any issue with spikes on roof, these may be more common place in the UK, not where I’ve climbed.

What I did encounter lots of is: Sharp metal.

Metal trim on roofs gets old, gets rusty due to exposure to the elements, and sometimes sticks out at sharp angles.

Be wary of reaching for a grip, without scoping out the route.

#5. Fences

Before you can get to your buildering locations, you will usually have to hop a fence.

The worst kind of fencing I have encountered has been: Old wooden fencing.

The older the wood, the worse. It can bear virtually no weight, and will snap, leaving a jagged pike, for you to get impaled on.

Or maybe only a few splinters in your hand. Either way, serious pain to climb over. I would look for a nearby object, and attempt to just over the fence entirely, and take the impact of the drop on the other side.

Of course, once you do that, you have to get back over. Luckily one side has the fence posts, and you can use those to some degree.

Metallic fences have been fairly sturdy, and presented no problems. If you manage to get a toe-hold in the links, you are all set. Even Y-spikes atop these are not too bad, as you can easily grip between them.

Worst I’ve gotten from these were minor cuts to the hands(I was moving fast), cuts to the sole of the shoe, and one cut on the front of my jacket.

Tip: Do not GATE VAULT these. I did once, on regular link, and got strung up. I could not imagine trying this on Y-spikes. That would be sadistic.

#6. Ladders locks

These are kind of a joke(pictured in the title banner). Never stopped anyone I knew.

They are mainly for show. They may even aid in climbing, as an extra foothold to smear. I will give you a tip for ladders, just to expand this section.

Grab the side of the ladder with your hands, not the rungs. Use the rungs for your feet, but slide your hands up the sides of the ladder.

This will give you more security, in case of a bad rung(rare), as the sides should remain intact. I always try to vary my grip, to never depend on just one object for all my weight.

Well, that’s all for now, leave any thoughts/questions in the comments,

Until Next Time, and

All the Best.