First recorded abseil from the Euromast
104m - 30 April 1984 - Without permission

The Euromast

The first stone of the Euromast (2) was laid on 10 December 1958 and in 23 days the 9 meter thick concrete cylinder was raised to it's present 104 meters.

In 1970 the Space Tower was added, because the medical university (3) would be 10 meters higher than the original Euromast (114 meters). This raised the total height to 185 meters. Because of this the Euromast claims to be the tallest building in the Netherlands. But of course it is not a "real" building.

The office of Nationale Nederlanden (1) is a real building and the highest in the Netherlands. It is 154 meters high.

Getting inside

For the abseil two ropes of 120m were used. Static ropes (speleo-cord), diameter 10-11mm.

"We didn't care much about weight in those times. In the later abseils we reduced the diameter to 9mm."

Jan van der Meulen and Peter Mosch carried the rope in two backpacks. In the entrance hall they were asked to leave the backpacks behind the counter. But they told the staff that they had expensive things in the backpacks and that they preferred to keep them within reach.

Getting ready

After getting on top of the platform Jan and Peter put on their overalls and climbing harnesses. They had to dress up there because it was impossible to get into the escalator pre-dressed with all the jingling metal gear (carabiners, figure-eight etc.).

"People looked, but no one seemed to understand what was happening. Probably people thought that we put on overalls against the cold wind that was blowing up there."

"The ends of the rope were already prepared, hanging from the backpacks so we could quickly throw a sling around the railing and attach the ropes. We put a strong nylon-reinforced tube around the rope to protect the point where the rope touched the steel edge of the platform."

Securing the top-anchors

Peter worked in a bar at that time and he had asked two large, muscular doormen (bouncers) to keep an eye on the anchor where the rope was attached. No one, not even the police, should come close to the ropes.

"If you hang from the rope the security people can do with you what they want. They are likely to be irritated and you can't see what's happening up there. You never know if some fool starts messing with the ropes."

The abseil

After rappelling 30m down they stopped and climbed up again using ascenders (rope clamps). They stopped in front of the restaurant-windows and took a picture of themselves.

While climbing up they left the backpacks with the ropes hanging 30m below. They didn't let the ropes hang down all the way to the ground. This makes it impossible for the police to grab your rope from the ground. The drawback is that you don't have the extra braking effect of the weight of the rope during the abseil. You have to brake more with your hands and therefore gloves are necessary.

Things to avoid

On one of the ropes they didn't use a nylon-reinforced tube but a normal garden hose. Afterwards they saw that this hose was almost abraded and that the rope was almost exposed. The steel edge of the platform could have cut the rope if they had taken longer to abseil.

Peter and Jan both had their own rope from which they abseiled. But the ropes were attached to the same anchor-point at the top. It would have been better to attach the ropes at separate anchor points with a distance of 1 meter. It was windy and the two ropes started to twist around each other and could have become entangled.

They used the "duo-abseil" technique. This means that the rope is ony slung through the top-anchor but not fixed. If one of the partners has a black-out he slides down the rope fast and will probably let go of the rope when he hits the ground. Then his rope-end is free and the partner on the other rope-end falls down too. If you want to use the "duo-abseil" you can avoid this risk by attaching yourself to your partner with a 3 to 5m long rope. Then your partner cannot slide down uncontrolled.

Peter and Jan were enthousiastic roller-skaters at that they time, so they took their skates with them everywhere they went. During their abseils this added an extra 1,5kg to each foot.

To prevent the two ropes from tangling Jan stretched out his leg against the rope of Peter. Later he realized this was very risky, because the rolerskate had all kinds of sharp edges on the underside. This might have damaged Peter's rope.


An article about the abseil appeared in the newspaper "Het Vrije Volk", Tuesday edition, 1 May 1984, page 13. Title: Laaglandalpinisten in actie".

It adds-some details:

  • the abseil was performed on Koninginnedag (the queen's birthday) so a lot of public attention was assured
  • the manager of the Euromast was very angry and the police had to calm him down
  • Peter and Jan claimed that their action was a protest against the absence of a climbing wall in Rotterdam
  • after the action they packed up their gear and skated home.

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© 1999 Petr Kazil / Jan van der Meulen - 7 August 1999