Man arrested after climbing to top of the Sphere in Las Vegas

Maison Des Champs was arrested in Las Vegas on Feb. 7, 2024, after he climbed to the peak of the Sphere, near the Strip. @LVMPD & @prolife.spiderman

A man in Las Vegas was arrested after he scaled the exterior of the Sphere at the Venetian to its 366 foot tall (about 112 metre tall) peak on Wednesday, according to police.

Maison Des Champs, also known as “pro-life Spider-Man” online, began his illegal climb of the massive entertainment venue shortly after 10 a.m. local time.

Des Champs — an urban climber who has attempted stunts of this nature before — said he scaled the Sphere to raise funds for an unhoused pregnant woman in financial distress. He shared several videos of his climb to his social media account in which Des Champs, who is wearing a blue hoodie and a GoPro on his head, can be seen making his slow ascent.

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Des Champs, 24, was arrested after he reached the top of the Sphere. He was charged with one felony, destroying a property of another worth greater than $5,000, and a gross misdemeanour, conspiracy to destroy private property, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) said in a statement.

He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center, and according to a Washington Post report, was still in custody on Wednesday night.

Des Champs’ climb has raised over US$21,700 (nearly C$29,230) for the pro-life nonprofit Let Them Live. On the donation page, Des Champs wrote that the money would be used to help a pregnant woman “cancel her abortion” and to fund post-birth care.

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In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, LVMPD sheriff Kevin McMahill called the Des Champs climb a “publicity stunt” to do with the influx of tourists soon to arrive in Las Vegas to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.

“We know these things are going to happen and we’re going to deal with them as they come up and make sure we have the safest Super Bowl we’ve ever had,” McMahill said.

A representative for Sphere Entertainment, the operator of the venue, said it is “grateful” for the support of local authorities in this incident.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Todd Keller told The Associated Press that Des Champs’ climb was “dangerous” and “very, very dumb.”

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“You put not only yourself in danger, you put firefighters in danger,” he said. “You put anyone else walking below or anybody around this incident in danger.”

This is not the first time Des Champs has been arrested for climbing a public structure. The Associated Press reported he was first arrested in Las Vegas in 2021 when he scaled the Aria on the Strip as part of a COVID-19 mask mandate protest.

He’s even attempted stunts around the time of other Super Bowls in the U.S. In 2023, he was detained in Glendale, Ariz., for scaling the city’s tallest building, the Chase Tower, just days before the Super Bowl in February.

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On Sunday, more than 330,000 visitors are set to flood Las Vegas for the Super Bowl LVIII to see the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium.

What is urban climbing?

Urban climbing, also called buildering, is an established (albeit, often illegal) practice that sees thrill seekers scale or traverse buildings or artificial structures to reach the top. Buildering (a combination of the words “building” and “bouldering”) is extremely dangerous, and usually done at night to avoid detection.

Buildering is common around the world, including at home in Canada. The activity often requires an urban climber to trespass or break and enter into private property.

Numerous people have died attempting these climbing feats, including the late Instagram daredevil and photographer Remi Lucidi, who in July 2023 died after falling from a skyscraper in Hong Kong.

Click to play video: 'Saint John Police say charges possible for two urban climbers who scaled transmission tower'
Saint John Police say charges possible for two urban climbers who scaled transmission tower

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