Owner of Seattle's Great Wheel claims climber not part of publicity stunt

A daredevil poses atop Seattle's Great Wheel in a photo posted to an anonymous Flickr account.

Seattle's newest landmark attraction doesn't open until Friday, but at least one daredevil has gotten an unprecedented and unauthorized view from the top, illegally climbing the structure and posting pictures of the exploit online.

While some have guessed that the climb and photos were a publicity stunt, the co-owner of the Great Wheel said that's not the case.

"We had nothing to do with it," said co-owner Kyle Griffith.

One of the pictures posted on photo-sharing website Flickr shows the daredevil straddling a beam atop the 175-foot wheel on Seattle's waterfront. Another shows him standing on one of the spans, while a third offers a unique perspective from high above through the structure towards downtown.

Griffith said when he first heard the news, he thought it must be a misunderstanding, that it must have been one of their maintenance people working on the wheel.

Once he saw the photos - Griffith knew someone had broken in.

There is no indication of who the climber is, his face was blurred out in the posted pictures.

The culprit was likely a professional climber, according to Griffiths. They were wearing climbing shoes, and scaled parts of the wheel that weren't designed to climbed by maintenance workers.

Since the incident, the owners of the Great Wheel have stepped up security. Some of the security cameras weren't functioning at the time, and they are adding additional fencing around the property.

Griffith said they're happy no one got hurt, but they probably won't be able to identify the culprits in the coming days. "We tried to see if we could identify anybody, but they had their faces all wrapped up, so you couldn't tell anything from that."

Seattle's Great Wheel opens to the public Friday. Rides cost $13 with discounts for children, seniors, and military members.

Wheel climb

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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