JYOTI RAJU IS a climber turned Internet phenomenon from Karnataka, India. He can climb a 100-foot fort wall in just a few seconds, all without safety gear like rope or a helmet, because he relies on “expertise and confidence” to stay safe. He says he learned his technique from watching monkeys climb.
Raju discovered his talent one day while contemplating suicide at the foot of a cliff. Instead of walking up to the top of the cliff to hurl himself off, he decided to climb up. According to Raju, he kept climbing higher and higher because he was afraid a shorter drop would not kill him on impact. When he finally reached a high enough ledge, he realized a crowd had gathered and was cheering him on to climb higher.
The video of Raju climbing at the tenth-century Chitradurga Fort shows why he’s called “The Monkey King”:
But while he’s busy being interviewed by television stations and trying to claim a spot in the Guinness World Book of Records, few people know Raju’s story. He’s raking in hundreds of thousands of page views for his videos on the Internet, but none of this means much to him. Raju is a laborer who still lives in a one-room home and does construction work to earn money. It’s only in his spare time that he’s able to practice his skill. Raju hopes to someday teach young people to climb.
Karnataka is big into climbing and has some incredibly talented athletes. Unfortunately, Raju’s skills won’t land him a spot in the state’s climbing team, as he suffers during competitive training; he came fifth in state championships. He’s also used to scaling rocks without safety gear because he cannot afford to buy any, and has not been able to adapt to the wall yet.
Read more about free solo climbing on Matador Sports.