Pro Skier Erik Roner knew he couldn’t give away the snowmobile that his friend, 39 year old Shane McConkey gave to him. Unfortunately McConkey, a professional skier and Base Jumper, passed away in 2009 during a jump in the Dolomite Mountains, when he chute failed to open. Hmm…now what’s a pro skier like Roner to do to honor the memory of his buddy…?
The scenario: you’re flying at 155 mph – fast enough to literally sound like an overhead jet – directly at a rock face in Roca Foradada mountains in Montserrat, Spain. Your target: a VERY narrow opening in the mountain that folks are calling “the Bat Cave”. If you make it, fame and serious bragging rights (and some cool video to show for it). If you don’t, well, it sucks to be you.
That’s the scenario. You’re either:
a) Jeb Corliss
c) A really, really good skydiver
d) Alexander Polli
I’d check items b, c, and d after watching this video in which European Base jumper Alexander Polli hits crazy speeds as he hurtles towards an admittedly tiny opening and prays to the Almighty that he gets it right. Well, he does. And the video adds yet further evidence to a growing list of “Why you should buy a wing suit”. Hint – any good supplier won’t sell you a wing-suit until you’ve earned your cojones as a skydiver.
“It’s not tragic to die doing what you love”. Truer words have rarely been spoken then when they came from Bodhi in the greatest movie of all time. With that in mind, I pay tribute to Shane Murphy, a 29 year old wingsuit pioneer who’d done over a thousand jumps and lost his life on August 7, 2012 in the Chamonix mountains in Switzerland, just weeks after Chamonix passed a ban on the practice. A sad, but not tragic, end to an inspiring life and a seriously cool dude.
Quick question for you – would you prefer to be in the ocean with a great white or killer whale? Though great whites get the publicity with those teeth, it’s the killer whale that should really get your attention. Here’s the breakdown: a 10 to 20 foot long shark that can weigh up to two tons, or a 40 foot killer whale that weighs ten times that much. You do the math, but in an all-out slugfest, the great white’s gonna come up short.
Just recently, Hawaii shark activist Ocean Ramsey went shark diving off the coast of Mexico. Judging from the clarity of water, and the presence of a cage diving operation, as an educated guess I think this is Guadalupe, which is where I went white shark diving back in 2007.
The video, which I’ll post here, has drawn lots of attention. Some say it’s nothing short of amazing. It’s beautiful, life-affirming, and shows that great whites aren’t JAWS. Frankly, I feel Steven Spielberg did the oceans a disservice by making that film. He’s collected billions and sharks have been paying for it in the 38 years since he made the movie.
I digress. Back to the point. The other side – the critics, including organizations like Fin-Free and some diving operations, say she went too far in making this film. Great whites are misunderstood, but they’re still apex predators. They’re magnificent animals and should be respected as such.
Petting a great white shark does not constitute ‘respect’.
There was a big commotion in 2010 when a newcomer to the shark diving scene at Guadalupe started his own charter business. For about $2000 more than the other, long-established guys at Guadalupe, this operator would go beyond the confines of cage diving and let you swim – supervised – freely with the great whites of the area. This really ticked off the other operators at Guadalupe, who established the shark diving scene there over ten years, and who knew the great whites intimately, and called the practice irresponsible.
I won’t go any further into this other than to say that I do not advocate free diving with great whites at Guadalupe, nor do I recommend the operator who offers this . Go with Shark Diver, or alternatively, M/V Islander is very good too.
Ocean Ramsey is an experienced free diver. She clearly knows sharks. And I think her heart is in the right place. If her intention is to demonstrate that great whites aren’t ruthless man-eaters, she succeeded. It’s an amazing video, I agree, and I think she really did connect with this beautiful creature.
But there’s a fine line here between beauty and tragedy. What if something happened here, and things got ugly? The video would make headlines for years and sharks would once again be demonized. We don’t need an express ticket back to JAWs circa 1975. What we need is clarity. We need to help sharks cultivate their essential role in our oceans. We need to undo much of the damage caused by – you know where I’m going here – Steven Spielberg. This video does portray sharks in a majestic light, but I feel that it’s playing with fire.
So to summarize, it’s a beautiful video. Watch and savour each moment. Just remember this mantra, courtesy of Support Our Sharks: “Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Bubbles”. And when diving with great whites, bring as much respect as you do courage.
I was at Pipeline in Hawaii a few years ago, and the beach had been shut down because of the crazy swells coming in. Some of them were up to 40 feet high, and a local told me that to surf that spot, you had to be either suicidal or one of the top ten pro surfers on the planet, otherwise you’d get shredded and have your a#$ handed to you by the unforgiving Pacific.
So it kinda puts things in perspective when news broke this week that American pro big wave rider Garrett McNamara reportedly surfed a 100 footer off Navare, Portugal, where on November 11, 2011 he previously set the record for biggest wave ever surfed. At the time folks were saying that one hit the 100 foot mark. Turns out it was ‘just’ 77.8 feet. And this one? Watch the video and judge for yourself.
Hundred footer or not, pretty crazy sh*#. I one tried to surf an eight footer at Tofino (and the Pacific handed my ass to me in a prompt manner), and I can’t even imagine the rush of big wave surfing, but the name sake of this blog, Bodhi (Patrick’s looking down on us with a nod of approval) once said it’s the ultimate rush. And that, dear reader, is what life’s all about.
Things got ugly in a hurry this week at a ski resort in southern Russia when two men took an unplanned detour from the “gentle snowy piste” they were supposed to follow while orbing and went way off course. And unfortunately, right off a cliff.
The Russian media reports that 27 year old Denis Burakov and his friend, 33 year old Vladmir Shcherbov were in the ski resort town of Dombai, in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains, when they took the spur of the moment ride – caught on video – that was just supposed to last a few moments down a predefined path.
Unfortunately, the path wasn’t posted, and there was little anyone could do when the orb veered to the right, then left, and as you’ll see, down the mountain, where it eventually goes over a cliff and lands over a kilometer away, on a frozen lake the locals call Peacock’s Eye. When rescuers found the two, Burakov was unconscious, with a broken neck. He died on the way to hospital.
Amazingly, his friend survived. Some one upstairs watchin that dude. Doubt he’ll go orbing again.
Orbing, or zorbing, is the sport of riding in a transparent ball, like a hamster ball, only it’s really big and you roll around inside of it, rather than staying vertical. Invented in New Zealand, it’s fair to say the sport will have a black eye for a while. Burakov was a married father of two daughters.
I’d a thunk that Santa would’ve rode his sleigh c/o Rudolph and company to the top of Whistler mountain for some shredding action. No worries though, the jolly fat man and his elves made it to the top of North America’s best skiing mountain with a helicopter and shreds it up on the way down. Even Santa needs to let loose on occasion,
The best time to enjoy the Mona Lisa is just before closing
Adventure comes in all sorts of interesting places and situations. For those of us who’ve done the Louvre in Paris, we know that just making it down one corridor is enough to wipe out all but the most intrepid traveller. But to catch a glimpse of La Gioconda, better known as the Mona Lisa, well, that’s a whole new world of craziness.
The situation: late one Friday evening, early October, in Paris. I’m at my hostel and realized, courtesy of Lonely Planet, that the best time to do the Louvre is in the evening, within an hour of closing. And if you want to do the Venus de Milo, or la belle prize, Madame Mona Lisa, an hour before the museum closes, on a Friday night, is your best chance of getting close to the lady with the beguiling smile.
So that’s what I did. No line up to get in (you’ll easily wait an hour during the day, or more in summer), and I knew exactly what I was looking for. It’s a bit a trek, from the main entrance, to the Denon wing, where she waits, in the Florentine area of the Louvre, with lots of stairs. But the signs are there, guiding you the whole time. There’s a long hall. Go down it, then, maybe a quarter of the way down, look to your right, and you’ll see this:
The crowds thinned out after a while. And dog gone it, before I left at about 7:45, there were only a dozen of us or so…a perfect moment to have a brief moment with Mona.
Bottom line? If you want to see the world’s most famous painting, go in the evening, even 20 minutes til closing. Know exactly where it is in relation to the main entrance, hustle a little, and with a little luck, you may even have her all to yourself.