BASE Jumpers EPIC Entrance to Pool Party

BASE_Jumpers_KL_Tower_PoolIf you’re looking to make a memorable entrance to a party, you’ve just been one-upped.

Yes, you’ve been upstaged by BASE jumpers/jump junkies John Van Horne, Matt Frolich and Andy Lewis in a jump performed in Kuala Lumpur that, simply put, might be the best party entrance you’ve ever seen..

Those with a deathly fear of heights need not to read further. But for the dude with a brass set of cojones and a security pass to the top of KL Tower, and a conveniently located pool party several hundred meters below, this is the stuff urban legends are made of.

Thank God we live in the GoPro Age!

3 BASE Jumpers Leap From KL Tower

The jump took place October of last year, as part of the KL Tower International BASE Jump Event (guess they figured BASE jumpers were gonna devirginize the tower anyway and make a few bucks out of it). The pool party, on the roof of a 34 storey hotel, was part of the festivities. But know one knew save our fearless BASE jumpers that anyone would *ahem* make such a splash.

Now about that video. KL Tower is high – really high – so if you’re not big on heights, you might want to cover your eyes until about 90 seconds in. I have to admit, I just about fainted when the first jumper high fives his buddies and jumped off the 1,099 foot tower.

For maximum nausea, or euphoria, depending on your perspective, maximize the screen at 1:15. You might set off your pacemaker if you have one.

Still, good risk is the kind that comes with big rewards, and there’s plenty of that here. You’re in on the fun – the second of the three BASE jumpers has his GoPro rolling. And his party entrance is, shall we say, one that notches big points on the epic scale, with plenty of high-fives, ‘F**-YEAHs!! and a few lovely ladies. We should all be BASE jumpers if it’s gonna turn out like this. I love it.

Lydia and Shredder: a Great White MATCH!

Dear Lydia,

Lydia_Great_White_SharkYou’re a very beautiful great white shark. You’ve got a great job as an apex predator who establishes balance in our oceans, and you’re a celebrity too, being the first great white shark documented to cross the stormy Atlantic.

Now I don’t normally get involved in affairs of the heart other than my own species, dear Lydia, but I’ve got to speak up. There’s something on my mind. Rumour has it you travelled from Florida to Newfoundland with your girlfriend because you were looking for a little great white action. And something tells me you’re not on Match or eHarmony – I don’t think they have a category for sharks just yet – so I’m going to do something really unusual. I’m going to be the first great white shark matchmaker in, well…history, I think.

Bear with me on this Lydia. Rest assured that I AIN’T setting you up on a blind date or trying to be a busybody. I just know that we all need a little help sometimes when it comes to finding the ‘Right One’. And I know this guy very well because I dived with him off Mexico back in 2007.

Meet Shredder

I’d like you to meet a good friend of mine. In fact, he’s my favorite great white shark on the planet and a much-loved fighter at Isla De Guadalupe off Baja California. He’s the real deal Lydia. His name is Shredder – an 11-foot piece of great white warrior who ALWAYS makes an appearance and can’t stay away from a little excitement. Other sharks might be shy or even cautious but not Shredder. Just look at those scars Lydia – he ain’t afraid of NOTHIN’. And he’ll stick up for you no matter what life throws at you.

Shredder_Smiling_Great_White_SharkThere’s a funny story about Shredder Lydia that I think you’ll like. About ten years ago, when humans first started diving with your kind at Guadalupe, Shredder was one of the first great white sharks to interact with these funny looking things called ‘shark cage divers’. And in true form he made himself known – he BIT through a steel cable and severed the anchor so the boat started drifting! Imagine how quickly those crazy humans got out of the water! And they’ve called him ‘Shredder’ ever since!

True story Lydia. You can easily spot our handsome suitor too – he’s the shark with a ‘shredded’ dorsal fin. Check him out. Isn’t he hot?

You Need to Connect!

I’ve been watching your movements with a shark tracker Lydia. Seems like you move around a lot. You’ve been wandering around the Atlantic. For a while there we thought you might need a European passport because you came so close to the United Kingdom! Well here’s the deal Lydia. We’re all looking for love in our own special way. I think Shredder is your guy – but you’ll need to cross oceans to meet him first.

Hold on now Lydia. I know what you’re about to say. Long distance relationships don’t work. I’d agree with you on that one, but we know you’re a traveller. Heck, you surprised us all when you swam from Florida to Newfoundland (and stopped off at Sable Island along the way!). You’re obviously a traveller Lydia, so get on it. Who cares if Shredder’s in the Pacific Ocean at the moment? He’s probably in the White Shark Cafe looking for love as we speak! Swim through the Panama Canal if you have to!

So to conclude, I hope you’ll put the whole separate oceans thing aside and look at the big picture. Guys like Shredder don’t come along very often, dearest Lydia. Even among sharks, our man Shredder sticks out. Please give the dude a chance, Oh Lady Lydia. I’ve got a feeling you’ll make baby great white sharks together and continue to make our oceans a healthy place.

PS: Here is in action Lydia. Make your move soon, cause he’s a hot one!

Plane Almost Cuts Skydivers in Half

Skydivers_Almost_Killed_Mid_AirLet me preface this post with the reassurance there are many, many inspiring videos that’ll stoke your engines and make you wanna take up the exhilarating if not slightly insane experience of skydiving.

This ain’t one of those videos.

In fact, this clip of two skydivers in Thailand, who narrowly escape a mid-air collision with the plane they jumped from just seconds previously might make you think twice about taking that popular leap of faith.

How close? Um…see for yourself.

The two skydivers are instructor Forest Pullman and an Asian women doing the jump with him. They’re both in Thailand, and the jump took place on October 19th of last year, though it was just released about two weeks ago, during which time it’s been viewed and shared in utter disbelief.

Wow. Um, no kidding…

I can’t decide what’s more amazing about this video; the fact that this plane pulled a full 180 degree turn mid air and came within 10 feet of bisecting our two skydivers or the irony that the young women did not see the plane and had no idea how very close she came to a bizarre end. And the fact that Pullman has the juxtaposition of these two extremes – a student’s sheer thrill of her first jump and five of the most terrifying seconds of his life.

The text he provides at 2:39 of the video, “Now she knows we almost got cut in half”, is not your typical skydiving banter.

Ultimately the two skydivers landed safely. Pullman, who’s been a skydiving instructor for 15 years seemed more freaked out than his student, and apparently has second thoughts about his chosen profession.

The plane, which is linked to a skydiving outfit in Pattaya, Thailand, has the words ‘Thai Sky’ on the wing. No word why the pilot thought it was a good idea to try to ram his skydivers mid-air, and Pullman says he’d never heard of anything like this until now, but apparently there’s a video of a similar situation on YouTube that didn’t turn out so well. I’m glad these two weren’t in it.

Be safe brother.

Sky Diving Video Captures Seizure at 9,000 Feet

sky_diving_seizureAustralian skydiver Christopher Jones doesn’t remember about 30 seconds of his recent jump. There’s a good reason for that. He was unconscious – with a seizure shortly after exiting the plane at 12,000 feet as part of a sky diving course.

Not exactly the best place for a medical emergency to hit, but that’s exactly what happens, and all caught on the jump master’s head camera and now loaded on YouTube under the name Nomadic Adrenaline.

A Sky Diver’s Nightmare

The video captures Jones’s self-professed possibly scariest moment of his life (um, no kidding). From the viewer’s perspective, it’ll send chills up your spine to watch him break away from instructor Sheldon McFarlane at 0:37 when he tries to grab the distressed jumper so he can pull his chute.

The good news is that McFarlane quickly realized something was up and didn’t panic. They successfully connected 4,000 feet, and pulled the chute, after which Jones came to and landed successfully.

As you’d expect, the video is making the rounds online and in Australia. McFarlane, for his part, downplays his role in saving the man’s life and says he does not like to be called a hero.

At the risk of offending him, I’m gonna say it one more time. Sheldon McFarlane is a hero. There, we’re good.

Sky Diving is a Self-Regulated Industry

The incident raises several questions. Among those being, who should sky dive. And just as important, who should NOT?

Sky diving is self-regulated in the United States and in many countries. It’s largely up to each outfit to use judgement to determine who should make the jump. The situation is fairly similar here in Canada, where the governing body is the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association, which watches over the sport, and guides sky diving outfits in the best practices direction.

I guess the takeaway message here is that some people should indeed NOT go sky diving. I don’t know Jones’s medical history but if he knew he was epileptic, he may have just pushed his luck. Just the same, a big sigh of relief that he made it out of this one, and an effective reminder to think twice about sky diving if you have health concerns or conditions. Or try indoor sky diving, where medics are a quick phone call away.

Snowboarder Falls Down Entire Mountain

snowboarder_fallsI have no idea how this is possible. I mean, dude, seriously, the laws of the universe would dictate that at least SOMETHING would stop this snowboarder from his epic trip the wrong way down Polar Peak mountain at Fernie BC.

But something is going on here. I really think this snowboarder opened a parallel universe for about 50 seconds in which everything that could go possibly wrong pretty much does, and somehow he manages to single-handedly fall down the entire mountain. Equipped with a GoPro to his head, of course.

We’re not laughing at you dude, we’re laughing with you. Well OK, we might be laughing a little bit, but it’s for a good cause – our utter amazement at how the hell this even happened.

Watch the complete video for maximum amazement.

In the end, the snowboarder was OK and stood up after his little drop – albeit with the full “Dude, are you OK?” from surprised onlookers. The video was posted two years ago, after which it’s been shared over 250 times at Stoked.com.

With all that said, I think most of us can relate to this. We’ve all hit the slopes once or twice. My last foray on the slopes was years ago at Apex Alpine – also in BC, about 8 hours away from Fernie – during which I took more than a few spills. In fact, I think I had about 10 ‘mini’ versions of this down the Beginners slope alone. If I were in this guy’s shoes, I doubt I would have fared much better.

Just remember bud, success is getting up just one more time than you fall…

50 Year Old Russian BASE Jumps Off Kilimanjaro

Rozov_BASE_Jump_KilimanjaroIf life starts at 40, it really opens up once you hit that half-century mark. Recently we’ve seen a 59 year-old Google executive eclipse Felix Baumgarter for the highest sky dive in history. And now we’ve got a 50 year-old Russian daredevil Valery Rozov – someone we’ve seen before – doing the first recorded BASE jump off Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet, at 19,341 feet above sea level. Not a bad notch to add to your BASE jumping bedpost. RT is reporting the jump took place this week, off Uhuru Point, after Rozov and his team scouted the mountain for three days, which saw them camp the first night in a crater and fail to jump the second day because it was too windy.

The third time’s a charm!

The First BASE Jump From Kilimanjaro

And indeed it was. Rozov’s jump, which was sponsored by Red Bull, took 60 seconds, during which he covered three kilometres and with that distinctive ‘I Sound Like a Human Jet’ sound that only a wing suit can make.

I can only imagine how much faster he would’ve gone without his GoPro camera with the drag coefficient. But then again, we wouldn’t have such a sick BASE jumping video without it. So it all works out – hey, I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy. What else can I say?

The actual jump doesn’t start until 3:51 of the video, so if you’re the impatient type, feel free to hit the fast forward button. Still, it’s a great video; Kilimanjaro is a really beautiful place. Watch the video completely and you’ll have a better appreciation for this truly awesome jump. And you might enjoy his little celebratory dance at the end.

By the way, if his name sounds familiar, there’s good reason for that. Valery Rozov did another, even more impressive BASE jump that made headlines across the globe. We can’t say Rozov’s BASE jumping resume is incomplete without Mt. Everest either – because he did it two years ago.

Skydiver Proposes During 10,000 Foot Freefall

Ultimate Marriage Proposal: Skydiver Pops The Question At 12,500ftThere is definitely a right way to propose and more than a few horror stories about proposals gone bad. Fortunately, 32 year old skydiver Brandon Strohben falls in the former category, with an agreement to take the plunge together while he and his fiancé, well, take the plunge together.

Gut flutters anyone? Um, yeah. Being a skydiver takes cojones on its own – something I still have not done to this day. But to do it while knowing you’re gonna pop the question to that leading lady in your life, to say nothing of recording it for posterity (and for voyeuristic purposes, come on, we’re in the GoPro age people!) takes a big-ole set of family jewels. But our hero passes muster, with an aptly timed ring during free fall together.

But enough ado. You’ll need to watch the video for full tears-of-joy jerkiness.

Truth be told, everything is not exactly as it seems. Reports have surfaced the ring that Strohben presents to his fiancé, 29 year old Nicole Nepomuceno, ain’t the real thing. There’s a real rock waiting for them both on terra firma. And the event actually took place last summer. The video emerged on GoPro’s YouTube channel in January.

Technicalities, though. We’ll forgive our skydiver stud Strohben for giving his lady a fake while freefalling at 10,000 feet. That’s not so conducive to passing a $3,000 diamond to another person now, is it? Beside, with the real jewel on the ground waiting for them, our man Strohben can do it properly on bended knee.

With all this said, my favorite part in this video is at exactly 1:00, when he pops the question and she gleefully realizes what’s going on. Then his simply cuts her loose and she breaks away.

Yup, good man, remember that – the temptation to do that again might come up from time to time :).

Awesome video and a great story

Sable Island: A Great White Shark Hotspot in Canada

Lydia_Great_White_Shark_Sable_Island

Lydia the great white shark was tagged off Florida and journeyed to Sable Island off Nova Scotia.

Say the words ‘great white shark’ and warm places come to mind, like Australia, South Africa and of course Guadalupe off southern California. But you might be surprised to learn there’s somewhat of a hot spot for great white sharks right here in the great white north.

Great white sharks in Canada. Yup, seriously, though it’s probably not where you think…

If you said Vancouver Island you’d be off by about 8,000 kilometres. You’re on the wrong coast for great white sharks in Canada – sorry folks – but you might see them off Sable Island.

Sable Island – Canada’s Own White Shark Cafe

Canada’s newest national park is a tiny sliver of an island about 300 kilometres south of Halifax. That’s in the maritimes, of course, which shark lovers will recognize as being the sight of several recent encounters with our angular toothed friends, including Lydia, a female who made headlines in 2013 when researchers tracked the tagged shark swimming from Florida to Newfoundland. It’s presumed she had a layover at Sable Island, like other great whites, who frequent the island for its plentiful pinnipeds.

Sable Island is also famous for its wild horses, introduced in the 1800s. But while the island has seen its share of shipwrecks and failed attempts at settlement over the past 300 years, it remains generally untouched – a narrow 42 kilometre sandpit of dunes just barely within Canadian waters.

Today it’s home to about 5 people – researchers mostly – though the number swells in summer with further scientists, tourists and those interested in learning more about this island steeped in maritime lore.

Can You REALLY See Great White Sharks At Sable Island?

If you were to camp out on the island and swim offshore every day dressed like a seal, you’d probably see one. The island is famous for sharks – including said great whites and greenland sharks – though you’d be promptly kicked off the island if you even tried that feat because it’s a national park. You’ll need time and money to get there too. It’s an island way off the beaten track, so you’ll need to fly charter ($6,000+) or cruise there with Adventure Canada.

The latter will set you back at least $2,700 and take eight days of your life.

If you really want to see great white sharks, do a cage diving tour. Guadalupe is good for that, but I’d recommend  a South African tour with G Adventures. Even with airfare, you’ll probably pay less and see some spectacular wildlife, and you can head to Gansbaii – a two hour drive from Cape Town – before your tour begins. That’s good enough for some of the best great white shark diving on the planet – and you may even snag a last minute adventure tour deal at 25% off.

So yes, it’s safe to say we have a ‘relatively’ active hot spot for great white sharks in Canada. Admittedly, you won’t see them if you make the journey to Sable Island. But they’re out there. That’s good enough for me.

Indoor Skydiving Makes an Awesome Gift

indoor-skydiving-laIf you’ve ever wanted to go skydiving but are afraid of heights and/or the idea of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet you may be in luck. That extends to folks who want a bucket list experience,  be it for date night, a birthday or just something fun to do with the kids.

Yes, it’s safe to say we’re talking about indoor skydiving, which has been around for a few years but has caught on recently, with an indoor skydiving company now established in Vancouver and several in the United States.

The premiss of indoor skydiving is quite simple. You’re fitted in skydiving gear and then enter a wind tunnel with giant rotors that blast air vertically, allowing you to experience the thrill of free-fall – but without the free-fall. But while it sounds easy, it’s harder than it looks. Indoor skydivers say it’s a full-on workout akin to sticking your body outside a car window at 200 kilometres an hour.

Indoor Skydiving: Why, Where and How

Depending on your skill level, you may be accompanied in the wind tunnel by an instructor who guides you through the experience. And your first few ‘jumps’ (or flights?) you’re simply trying to stay centred. But it’s a rush – literally – as you get the hang of indoor skydiving, and the adrenaline that comes with jumping out of an airplane without weeks of training.

Increasingly, a lot of folks now do indoor skydiving as a gift, either to a loved one, life partner or just as a more thrilling date. It’s not unlike going to a scary movie to connect with over a good shot of adrenaline. A good date idea? Many folks say yes. At the very least, it’s a good bet you’ll both remember it – and for all the right reasons.

You’ll generally pay $69+ to go indoor skydiving. You’ll need to be in reasonable shape because it’s a full upper body workout. If you live in Canada, a company called FlyZone has operated a mobile indoor skydiving facility for several years and they’re looking for a permanent base, though I’m not sure if they’re set up yet.

In the United States, go to Cloud9 Living Gift experiences to find an indoor skydiving experience in your area. Happy times!

Why I Love Snowboarding

Why_I_Love_SnowboardingGoPro’s PR department has it so easy. They know if they send a few radical athletes up in a helicopter with cameras strapped to their helmet and add some inspiring music they’ve got a captive audience. Yup, I love snowboarding, and so do the 6 million+ viewers who took in this video of three dudes and one dudette who went high up into the Andes in August 2013 for the perfect line.

Judging from the responses this video is getting, I think they found it.

I admit, this is a corporate video. Notice the ‘GoPro’ slapped on John J’s snowboard and the Red Bull helmets. But it reminds us why we’re alive. Maybe it’s the music, or the sight of ‘huckin it’ at 13,000 feet, but this just captures the essence of snowboarding, skiing, and generally serves as a reminder of what matters in life.

It’s a spiritual moment, right at 3:00, when John J declares it’s time to ‘tame the dragon’.

Call me a corporate suck, I don’t care. These guys just get snowboarding, and why I started The Bodhi Tree five years ago (this week no less).

Ironically, the video shoot was in late August two years ago – right about the time most Canadians are more into surfing than making a snowboarding video. The point being? You don’t have to travel to South America to get in some crazy good heliboarding. Many of the best heliskiing destinations are right here in British Columbia. Whistler is the obvious candidate, but BigHorn at Revelstoke gets high marks too.

Telluride in Colorado is a good heliboarding destination for folks in the US.

So I agree with one observer, who comments how well GoPro reminds us that “you’re not cool ’til you got one of these strapped to your head”. But it’s good enough to light a snowboarding fire under anyone with a soul. The music in the second half is a track called “A Million Billion Dying Suns”.

Take the time to watch the entire video. It’s worth ten minutes of your life.