By Laignee Barron
December 12, 2017

A Chinese climber famous for scaling skyscrapers without any safety equipment has died after falling from a 62-story building in the city of Changsha, according to his girlfriend.

The 26-year-old daredevil, Wu Yongning, fell more than a month ago on Nov. 8, but his death was only recently confirmed by his girlfriend, according to the BBC.

After dabbling in television and film, Wu was drawn to the more lucrative endeavor of “rooftopping,” where he could put his martial arts training to use, the BBC reports.

Rooftopping, the feat of climbing high-rise buildings to take photos or perform stunts at the top, has become an increasingly popular pastime after several viral videos. The practice evolved out of the urban explorer movement, also known as “urbex.” It’s not unheard of for rooftoppers to fall to their deaths.

Wu gained a large following on the Chinese social media network Weibo — he has more than 60,000 followers at time of writing — where he had posted hundreds of photos and videos of himself atop buildings he successfully scaled. His followers began to worry when he stopped posting updates in November.

Wu Yongning shares a video on the microblogging site Weibo of himself on top of Bao’an Tower in Shanghai, China on Nov. 1, 2017.
Wu Yongning/Weibo

At the time of his fall, Wu was attempting a rooftopping challenge in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, hoping to claim the 100,000 yuan ($15,000 USD) prize, according to the South China Morning Post.

His girlfriend reportedly called the police on Nov. 9 after he did not return home following the challenge.

“He planned to propose to his girlfriend [the day after the challenge],” his step-uncle Feng Shengliang was quoted by the Post as saying. “He needed the money for the wedding, and for medical treatment for his ailing mother.”

Before his fall, Wu’s Weibo videos had warned viewers not to attempt his stunts.

In October, a 44-year-old journalist and urban explorer fell to his death from a 22-story building in Chicago.

Write to Laignee Barron at Laignee.Barron@timeinc.com.

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