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.

Who Should Pay For Skier Search and Rescue?

Skier_Search_and_RescueA major sigh of relief this weekend from family and friends of Julie Abrahamsen – the 20 year-old skier who went missing at Whistler-Blackcomb went she followed friends out of bounds on the backside of the mountain’s glacier.

Despite spending three chilly days and nights, she survived the ordeal, carried by determination to make it out. Her happy ending came Saturday morning when search and rescue crews found her stunned and dehydrated – but alive – from where the grateful skier was airlifted to a nearby clinic and on to reconnect with her loved ones.

A joyous occasion. I’m very glad this ended well.

With all this said, this touches on a topic that some may find thorny. Indeed, it’s a heated debate for many, and one taken up by Steve Casamiro on The Adventure Life three years ago. The question remains, and here it is now:

Who should pay for skier search and rescue? Especially when a single mission can easily top $50,000 – to say nothing of the fact that rescuers put their lives on the line each time they suit up to do their jobs.

Let me be very clear. When someone is lost in the wilderness, search and rescue goes out by default. That’s not up for debate. Rescue comes first when someone is lost. They’re cold, wet, hungry and in peril. Everything else is simply details.

But it’s a valid question. Especially when, despite clearly marked ski runs and warnings not to veer away from them, some folks simply go out of bounds. And quickly find they’re in over their head.

In Canada, those costs typically come from the government’s purse strings – both federal and provincial – along with the ski resort in question. In December 2012, three snowboarders on Vancouver’s north shore required rescue within a week. All had gone out of bounds. Cypress Mountain gave one of the snowboarders a $10,000 bill to cover part of his tab.

Grouse Mountain has done the same for years.

It’s a contentious issue, and some people say it’s not a good idea to charge lost folks for their rescue. If a skier got lost, for example, and knew he’d be on the hook for a hefty bill in the mail, he might have second thoughts about sending out a distress signal. That’s a dangerous game for the skier, or hiker, snowboarder/person lost in the wild.

Survival comes first. Lost people need to know that.

Still, much of that bill is footed by Joe Taxpayer. So how do we proceed? Some have suggested skiers buy ‘search and rescue’ insurance. Others, that avalanche/survival training be mandatory before hitting the slopes. Tell me, what do YOU think? I like the idea of shared costs. That’s as had a stance as I’ll take on this issue that creeps up every year.

This Might Be the Luckiest Snowboarder in History

Luckiest_Snowboarder_EverThings generally don’t go well when a snowboarder runs into a snowplow half way down a run. Are we in agreement with that? Good, because that will help you appreciate how extraordinarily lucky this snowboarder is to still be with us.

Someone upstairs is clearly watching out for Martin Theoret.

The video, shot at Edelweiss Ski Resort in Quebec, shows snowboarder Martin Theoret tearing down a run at the resort on his trusty snowboard. He thinks he’s got the run all to himself because it’s roped off as he and his buddies do a build/test session. The camera is rolling, and his friends are at the bottom waiting for him to jump the ramp about halfway down.

But no one relayed that message to the snowcat’s driver, Matt Dubois, who can’t see the top of the run and thinks, like Theoret, he’s got the all-clear to plow up the mountain.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were looking at two parties blissfully unaware how close they are to an epic fail? For about two seconds, I’m sure Theoret had an Oh S**t! moment he’d prefer not to repeat.

Fortunately, the fight or flight response kicked in for Theoret, who chose flight – literally. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

There have been suggestions that the video is fake. You’ll note that Theoret does not look back at the plow on landing. Also, his escape is so remarkable, you wonder if it’s not a little too perfect. For their part, both Theoret and Dubois claim it’s real – Theoret says he didn’t look back because he was in shock and because he thought Dubois was gonna turn around and go after him.

Theoret says he ended up off camera, landed on his face and just puked. I’d probably do that too.

Mental note. Never try to fight a snowplow. Choose flight instead.

Paddler’s Intimate Orca Moment – Too Close?

Paddler_Close_Encounter_OrcaThis isn’t the first time standup paddler Rich German has been up close with a pod of whales. But his encounter this week, in which he left the safety of his boat and stood on his paddle board during a whale watching orca encounter has some people miffed.

How close is too close to marine life – and does it affect their behaviour?

For great white sharks, the answer is simple. You’re fine as long as you stay in a cage (and don’t take a ‘shark selfie!). No petting, no matter how close they get, and just observe, experience, and tune in to your place in the food chain. But orcas?

I’ll let you decide after watching this video, of German, as he films the orcas from what some folks are calling a dangerously close proximity. Early in the video, one of the orcas, aptly named ‘Bumper’, passes directly beneath him – and it’s safe to say there wouldn’t be much keeping German on his trusty paddler board should Bumper choose to live up to his name.

Earlier in the summer, German was criticized for getting too close to a blue whale – which happens to be the largest creature on the planet. That was enough to irk federal authorities, who investigated whether he violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This didn’t win him friends among observers or the whale watching community because of the growing trend of folks who pursue and harass marine life.

And that’s a story to itself, because some whale watching operators have been accused of getting too close as well – it’s been a problem in the Pacific Northwest for years. So when a whale watching operator says a paddler is getting too close, well, he’s probably close enough to tickle the whale’s belly.

Of course, it’s a beautiful moment. There’s no question this guy connects with these creatures, and he’s got a beautiful video to show for his efforts. My take? I like his intentions, but he’s too close. A little common sense, dear paddler. Watch from a distance and savor it with safety – both yours and the orcas.

German Alexander Schulz Sets New Slacklining Record

Alexander_Schulz_Slacklining_ChinaIt’s been said that fear is more powerful than any performance-enhancing drug. I’m not sure if German slackliner Alexander Schulz was peeing himself this week when he slack lined (a form of tightrope walking) between two limestone mountains in Yangshuo, China, but he was able to channel some form of mojo. He just walked 375 meters at a very uncomfortable height – a full 70 meters longer than the previous record.

That’s good enough to seal the deal with a new world record for the slacklining world to digest. Did you get that Dean Potter? No worries dude – you’re more of a general all-round aerial bad-ass.

Schulz didn’t really intend to go the distance with something this extreme when he arrived in China with his team earlier in the week for a slacklining event. At the time, his goal was to find a spot roughly 350 meters across. That would have allowed him to beat the previous record of 305 meters set by Jerry Miszewski in 2013 near Sacramento. And when they found their spot, laser measurements confirmed it was 375 meters between the two mountains. Far too long, thought Schulz. But what the hell. The old college try, right?

Yup, a college try and then some. After a few practice walks before the big day, Schulz put boot to inch-wide cable and made slacklining history. The crossing took about 45 minutes, during which he focussed on his breathing. He found it hard to concentrate as the minutes ticked by too, and sure enough, the wind kicked up about two-thirds into his walk. Those with a general aversion to heights might get a little jittery when they see how much the cable was shaking.

Still, he trod through. Schulz persevered and pushed onward. There’s a good lesson here: the fear of failure – and of not trying to finish what you started when you’re so close to a goal – is enough to light a fire under most 23-year old slacklining Germans. And you know what? He made the crossing, set a new slacklining record, and raised the bar (er, cable) just a little higher for the rest of us.