The Great Pyramid of Giza (aka Khufu) stands nearly 500 feet high and is a source of pride (and tourist revenue) for Egypt. Thus, the Great Pyramid, along with the other two nearby pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex, is closely protected by the government. This makes the story of thrill-seeker Andrej Cieselski, an 18-year-old teenager from Munich, Germany, all-the-more intriguing. This month Cieselski illegally climbed to the top of the 4,5000-year-old Great Pyramid – and has the pictures to back up his claim.
Cieselski is no stranger to climbing stunts called “roofing” where he climbs and dangles off of tall monuments, buildings, and other dangerously high structures while filming the climb using a Go-Pro video camera. Cieselski’s Great Pyramid climb took place in early January 2016 – in broad daylight.
“Walking around in the complex I was waiting for the right moment to start climbing The Great Pyramid of Giza. When I started climbing a street seller was standing behind me, but I turned around, he laughed, and I continued climbing.”
The trip took about eight minutes to climb up (twenty minutes to climb down). Authorities noticed the teen’s brazen deed about halfway into the climb.
“At the halfway-point, some people got attention on me and looked up to me. That’s how the police spotted me. They shouted something in Arabic I think but I didn’t care and kept going while listening to music on my headphones.”
Lacking the resolve to make the 500-foot climb, authorities waited patiently until Cieselski returned to earth.
The view from the top is indeed unique, albeit a bit dusty, and allowed Cieselski to fulfill a dream he had longed for.
“It was absolutely surreal standing on top of one of the wonders of the world and something that I will never forget. I wanted to experience Egyptian culture and I definitely managed that.”
After Cieselski climbed back down, Egyptian police, of course, arrested him, took him to the police station, and even threatened to take him to the German embassy (for what reason I’m not sure). Eventually, recognizing the publicity and potential bump in tourist revenue from the escapade, they let him go with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
The minor punishment came as no surprise to Cieselski who says he researched the trip beforehand and concluded that the potential for arrest and prosecution (which can result in up to a 2-year prison sentence) was low.
“I had asked locals what they thought of my attempt and they warned me that it was illegal to climb the pyramids, although I thought it would be fine, what with Egypt’s dependence on tourists. I was told that I did risk prison, although on balance I thought the photos would be worth it.”
Check out some of the photos below which allow us to see the pyramids and surrounding area from the spectacular view atop the Great Pyramid.