Australian CliffJumper Almost Lands on Great White Shark

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terry_tufferson_cliffjumper_great_whiteOK, I’ve done a lot of great white shark related posts on this blog. But this one’s just too good to pass up. A cliff and a GoPro camera. A winning combination right? You bet – unless there’s a great white shark swimming below.

Let’s just say this video gives new meaning to the term ‘shark-diving’.

The story: Australian cliffjumper Terry Tufferson was in an area of Sydney Harbor, the aptly named Jump Rock at Collins Beach. No points awarded to figure out what happens there – the place is famous for cliff-jumping.  So our good buddy Tufferson suited up this week for a jump with his trusty GoPro camera strapped to forehead to bear witness for what he thinks will be a typical afternoon of cliffjumper mojo.

Thing is, what happens next ain’t so typical. Tufferson lands in the water and quickly hears his mate yelling something about a shark. And waddaya know? At 0:41 seconds, sure enough, a great white shark happens to swim by, followed by a more ‘up-close and personal’ encounter with our trepid cliffjumper, who’s feeling a little creeped out right now, as he comes within about two feet of a great white.

I like it!

Of course, as a regular to this blog you know that great white sharks don’t actually eat people right? But I’m sure that was of little consolation to Tufferson as he sat there wondering just WTF was going on and, like, why can’t a cliffjumper just go about cliff jumping without landing on a great white shark?!

The video is a little controversial because some are saying it’s too perfect. What is the chance a cliff jumper will just coincidentally land on a great white shark in Sydney Harbor Australia. Some say it’s fake, but it looks pretty darn real to me, and I gotta say, if it’s real, Terry Tufferson ain’t gonna forget that anytime soon.

Real or fake? Judge for yourself.

+Steven Hutchings

Norwegian Skydiver Almost Hit By Meteor

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Skydiver Anders Helstrup almost gets hit by a meteor

Skydiver Anders Helstrup almost gets hit by a meteor

Where is Michael Bay when you need him? I’m sure Hollywood’s king of meteors and flashy things that fall from the sky would love this video, which surfaced this week, of Norwegian skydiver Anders Helstrup who comes within metres of a meteor after he pulls his chute.

Yes, a meteor. Watch the first 30 seconds of the video (all in Norwegian), and at 0:29 you’re in for a serious WTF moment.

Helstrup took the video during a jump in 2012. He only brought it to the media this month, when he watched it again and realized that, wait, maybe that wasn’t a pebble stuck in his chute!

Helstrup took the video to Norway’s NRK TV network, who consulted several geologists. Yup, it was a meteor, they said, and reiterated that our fav Norwegian skydiver of the moment was a very lucky dude. The meteor was at least 5kg and moving at roughly 300km/hr. Had he jumped a second earlier, well, let”s just say the video would be of a skydiver fail the likes of what no one could have ever forseen.

A collision between a skydiver and a meteor…SPLAT!!

Fortunately, it all worked out. He was a lucky dude – REAL lucky it turns out. Not only did he not get split in half by a meteorite, he’s the first known skydiver to ever dodge a meteor (I don’t think they list ‘meteors’ as an occupational hazard in Skydiving For Dummies). And the video is more than just an epic skydiving video. Geologists note that it’s the first picture of a ‘dark’ meteor, as opposed to the flashy Michael Bay-type streaks we usually see when a meteor comes through Earth’s atmosphere.

The likely scenario we’re told, is that the meteor was part of an asteroid belt around Jupiter, which somehow got sucked in by the Sun’s gravity and eventually made its way to Earth…and right past skydiver Anders Helstrup and on YouTube.

Enjoy the video, cause I doubt another narrow miss between a meteor and skydiver will be filmed any time soon!

+Steven Hutchings

Read This Before You Dive With Great White Sharks at Guadalupe

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This is why you should dive with great white sharks at Guadalupe!

This is why you should dive with great white sharks at Guadalupe!

Seven years after diving with great white sharks at Guadalupe, it remains one of the top 3 experiences of my life. Things change when you come within two feet of a great white and experience the thrill of making eye contact with the ocean’s top predator. You look at a great white, it looks at you, and you’re not the same person. That’s a good thing, believe me, because it puts things in perspective. You’ve got new eyes now, mental clarity, and most people would say, a good set of cojones.

So I want to reflect now that it’s been seven years since I made acquaintance with Bruce, Shredder, and the other great white sharks at Guadalupe in October 2007. I want to share with you my thoughts on WHY you should do it, how it works, who to do it with, and who to avoid.

Why You Should Cage Dive With Great White Sharks at Guadalupe

This is a book in itself. For me, the great white shark was the single most beautiful, enigmatic, foreboding and misunderstood creature on the planet. I saw JAWS when I was 11 and wouldn’t go in the bathtub for a year after that (yes, that’s true – I showered instead). But as I grew older, my fear turned into awe. I dreamt about the white shark as I grew older, in sleep and during the day. They came to me when I slept, during difficult times and even just when I had questions about life in general. Looking back, I am convinced now that the great white shark is my spirit animal. In times of need, it comes to me. I need to see the great white shark. And judging my the popularity of great whites on this blog, many people do too.

You should dive with great white sharks at Guadalupe because they are the single most amazing creatures on Earth. I think back to a quote I heard from St. Augustine: “the Key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering”. What do your friends do for kicks?  Have any of them seen a lion outside of a zoo? Have they ever BASE jumped or did something that, looking back, they think of with adrenaline and exhilaration?

Dive with great white sharks because you’re your own person. Not because none of your friends have done it (which, they probably haven’t), but because, to borrow a cliche, life comes down to a few moments. You pick the ones you take when you leave this life. Take the plunge, put the money down, book the time off and see what it’s like to look into the eyes of a great white shark.

OK, So HOW Do I Cage Dive With Great White Sharks?

You book a spot on a boat that specializes in cage diving with great white sharks. The hot spots are southern Australia, South Africa and Guadalupe Island. The latter is about 220 miles south of San Diego, off Baja California – an easy plane ride and a 24 hour boat journey for most people in the U.S. and Canada.

Great_White_Shark_Breach_GuadalupeI dived with great white sharks at Guadalupe, and I suspect most folks in North America will find this option the most convenient. You’ll generally pay between $3000-$4000 for the experience, which typically lasts five days (one day from San Diego to Guadalupe, three full days diving, one day back).

There are one day great white shark experiences at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. I don’t know much about them, though I have heard the visibility is not great. That’s another benefit of diving at Guadalupe – on a good day, visibility can be close to a hundred feet. The water is warm, and the area is really beautiful.

Cages are suspended off the stern of the boat. You don’t need to be scuba-certified because you’re breathing surface-supplied air. You dive in shifts, which generally last about an hour, before the dive master taps on the cage and you climb up and wait for your next dive.

Diving with great white sharks is not dangerous. I probably saw about 30 different sharks, and maybe two of them were semi-aggressive. Many of the sharks were quite mellow, and were almost shy – a far cry from JAWS (thanks for that, Steven Spielberg).

Who You Should Dive With

You’ve got many choices for diving at Guadalupe. My experience is with Shark Diver and The MV Islander. I recommend both, though I’m probably a bit more loyal to the Islander simply because I was on their boat. They were friendly, safe, and always up for a chat about great whites and the area in general. We saw a shark breach completely out of the water, and got a picture no less! We saw sharks on each dive and the food was amazing. I’d say Islander first and Shark Diver second. Shark Diver is a good second though, believe me. You won’t be disappointed if you head down with them.

Finally, I’ll conclude by saying that I DO NOT recommend diving without a cage with great white sharks. This is common sense (um, DUH). Great white sharks are not man-eaters, we know this, but they’re still apex predators. There is one operator who does this practice, and I will not name him for liability reasons, but he’s flirting with disaster. Go with an experienced operator who puts safety first. The great whites will come, and delight. And you will be a more complete person for it.

+Steven Hutchings

Oleg ParaMon’s Eerie Base Jump Off Mercury Tower

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oleg_paramon_base_jumpI would so not base jump. But adrenaline freaks like myself who get their kicks living vicariously through guys like Russian BASE Jumper Oleg ParaMon will no doubt approve of this, one of the most eerie BASE jumps I’ve seen on camera.

The setting: Mercury City Tower, a 75 storey skyscraper in Moscow and Europe’s new tallest building, some 350 metres above the streets of Moscow. The video tells the rest of the story, believe me, with an eerie ascent to the top of the tower, punctuated by about ten seconds, starting around 1:47, when he’s at the top, at the corner of the tower. The camera then puts things in perspective. He’s high – real high – off the streets of Moscow. Then he steps off and gracefully glides through the chilling Moscow morning and back to terra firma.

Oleg ParaMon is a f&*$ing ninja.

I can’t which part is creepier: his ascent to the top or that moment when the camera puts things in perspective. Probably the latter.

This is ParaMon’s second jump off Mercury Tower, and it’s made more impressive when you consider the security around the place. Mercury Tower is like Fort freakin’ Knox – heavily guarded and highly illegal to scale for purposes of, you know, jumping off of it.

But then again, that’s what BASE jumping is all about, yes?

The video brings some recollections of another epic moment in BASE bragging rights. That other jump, you know, the one that took place last June, when four jumpers devirginized Trump Tower in Chicago. If you build a skyscraper, someone’s gonna find a way to add it to the BASE jumping hall of fame. Assuming no one gets hurt, I think that’s pretty awesome.

Anyway, watch the video and you’ll see what I mean. The climb, the music, and the fact that this dude has the cojones to jump off the tallest building in Europe. Your pace-maker might act up when he gets to the top.

 

+Steven Hutchings

Tierra Del Fuego is The End of the Earth

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tierra-del-fuego-10The world didn’t end in 2012, but adventure travellers looking to get apocalyptic might see the end of the Earth in 2014. No, we’re not talking about another Mayan Doomsday. The end of the Earth is at the southern-most end of South America, a jagged archipelago that’s seen much bloodshed and more than a few sunken ships.

The end of the Earth is Tierra Del Fuego, at the tip of Argentina and Chile, and guarded by the equally notorious Cape Horn. After that…it’s Antarctica.

Depending who you ask, the final stop for civilization is at Ushuaia, in Argentina, or Puerto Williams, Chile. By my count Puerto Williams is just slightly further south (sorry Argentina – it was really close), yet they both jockey for cruise ships, ecotourism and folks who want to ski, hike and otherwise take in arguably the most dramatic landmass on the planet. Ushuaia gets the last laugh, however, with more traffic and tourism for folks looking south.

The best way to see Tierra Del Fuego depends on your pocketbook. Ecotourism has taken off in recent years, with cruises from Ushuaia to Antarctica. These can get bumpy though – Cape Horn, remember? – so bring your Gravol.

A more practical way to see Tierra Del Fuego for many people might be to do it by rail. The Southern Fuegian Railway, more aptly called ‘The Train of the End of the World’, which departs 8 km out of Ushuaia, at The End of the World Station (nice touch) and travels through the Pico Valley, stopping about midway at a crazy awesome view point for pictures. The ride ends at El Parque station in beautiful Tierra Del Fuego national park, from where travellers can return by train or coach at their leisure.

Most reviews of the journey are positive.

You’ll need to get to Ushuaia to pursue this option; the easiest way to do that is to fly from Buenos Aires or Santiago. You can also get there by sea, with some of the big cruise lines, including Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises. Or if you’re a real keener, and do things the old-fashioned way, you can drive to Tierra Del Fuego – from Alaska no less! – via the Pan American Highway. My hat goes off to you if you commit to that journey.

However you get there, make a point to see Tierra Del Fuego. The cool factor is high when you can say you’ve seen the End of the Earth.

+Steven Hutchings

Austrian Michael Kemeter Risks Life Slack-lining Without Harness Over Canyon

Michael_Kemeter_Slacklining_No_HarnessSome hobbies are more forgiving than others. A bad day’s fishing ain’t gonna kill ya, for example…but a rough day slack-lining will put some hair on your chest. And if you really want to push things a notch short of insane, try to slack-line over a deep canyon with no safety harness.

That’s how Michael Kemeter seems to get his kicks, as you’ll see in this video, in which the Austrian daredevil takes a zen-like approach to slack-lining sans safety net or anything other than his balance and an ‘in the moment’ attitude. In fact, maybe daredevil is too strong a word: zen master would be more accurate, I think, because he’s seriously mellow and tuned in to the universe. Whatever mojo he’s channeling, it works something’ crazy – note the moment in the video near the end of his crossing when the camera pans straight down.

I don’t think I’ll be slack-lining any time soon.

Still, it’s pretty awesome. Check out his website too – apparently he’s a “mental coach”. I think we could all use some of that.

Oh yeah, and scroll down on his site for what appears to be a naked group slack-lining, complete with a naked girl with a huge grin on her face. Guess slack-lining has a few perks ;).

Rest in Peace Paul Walker

PaulWalkerEdit-1Fast and Furious star Paul Walker was a stud, not only for his appearances in that series that catapulted him to fame, but also for what he did for humanity and the planet we inhabit. You may not have known that he aspired to marine biology before he went down the acting path. And I really liked that Paul Walker and I have something else in common: he was passionate about great white sharks, having tagged several specimens at Isla de Guadalupe in 2009, in a documentary, Expedition Great White. He’s going to be missed by a lot of folks, and yet his legacy lives on in adventure-related films like Into the Blue and Eight Below.

If any good comes of this I hope it’s that folks stop glorifying street racing. Ironic, considering that this is an adventure travel blog, which thrives on adrenaline. But think about it – adventure sports like BASE Jumping and surfing are a celebration of life. They’re not about endangering other people, which, sadly, is what happens all too often when people put pedal to floor in a modified suicide machine. A little context. And unfortunately it cost Paul Walker his life.

First Ever Wingsuit Base Jump Under Bridge at Aiguille du Midi

wingsuit_fly_under_bridge_Aiguille_du_midiThe openings keep getting smaller. We’ve seen Jeb Corliss fly through a mountain in China and Alexander Polli do the batcave in Spain. Now, just this month, BASE jumpers Espen Fadness (love that name!), Jokke Sommer and Ludovic Worth pulled an equally impressive, if not crazy stunt at the tallest mountain in Europe.

Yep, after much planning and calculation on how to navigate a VERY small opening under the bridge at Aiguille Du Midi, some 3,842 metres above Chamonix – and at roughly 200 miles an hour – the trio made history as the first BASE jumpers ever to fly under the popular bridge and have fame and an epic video to show for their troubles. To say nothing about an adrenaline rush that might jumpstart a Boeing 747.

I would not want to be the guy making a wingsuit fail video.

Teach Children Well

Despite the name of this blog, I’m not a buddhist. Nor am I am going to thump anyone over the head with religious beliefs, but this image came across my desk recently and I think it says a lot about what we value as a society. Start with volunteerism, an open mind, and the ability to disconnect and find joy in helping others and the planet we inhabit. Teach your children well, folks, and our world we be a better place.

 

Teach_Children_Well

Point Break is Back – and YOU Can Be Keanu!

shapeimage_2I don’t think I’d be doing my job right if I didn’t mention something about Point Break Live. Dubbed the first “reality play”, it’s a satire on the best movie ever, performed live with a set cast in every role except Johnny Utah (Keanu for the few who’ve yet to see the movie), in which members of the audience ‘audition’ for that coveted role and win it if selected by fellow audience members. The pseudo-actor then performs Keanu’s role by reading cue cards delivered by a production assistant. Much carnage ensues, including bank robberies and meatball sandwiches.

One question though that I’ve yet to see answered…does Utah get to jump out of a perfectly good airplane without a chute?

Kidding aside, the show has generated plenty of buzz since its premier in Seattle back in 2003 and has spread across the U.S. with stops in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and even Louisville Kentucky (wouldn’t that be better suited to a ‘Field of Dreams’ reality play? The Louisville slugger…just sayin’).

But of course, if you’re a Point Break junkie like myself, it’s the show’s latest stop – where the movie takes place – in the City of Angels that stands the greatest chance of setting off a fifty year storm in your heart. And for that, check out PointBreakLA, because, let’s be honest here, the Swiss make watches, the French make wine and Italians make sports cars. Los Angeles makes Point Break…and who knows, catch PointBreakLA and you never know if an original cast member from the movie might pop by, like this 2009 video of Gary Busey (Keanu’s partner) who stops in for a little fun!

PS: Don’t remake Point Break. Don’t even think about it. Leave it the way it is: a masterful dance of fate and adrenaline.