November 28, 2013

ESPN nixes X Games in Brazil Spain Munich and France

That didn’t last long.

Eighteen months after ESPN trumpeted a global expansion that doubled the number of its events – with first-ever summer X Games in Barcelona, Munich and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil – the company has ended its international blitz.

On Thursday the network announced it was nixing all international X Games events, including the four-year old Winter X Games in Tignes, France, and dropping the suddenly-dead “Global X” plan from six contests to two, with only Aspen and Austin remaining.

In May 2012, the network announced a global expansion into three international cities, including its first-ever push into South America’s vibrant action-sports scene. The plan called for infusing cultural highlights into the contests, with music and film components aimed at overhauling the X Games brand.

“We call it a transformation from an action-sports competition brand into an action-sports lifestyle brand with relevance to contemporary youth around the world,” said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming and X Games with ESPN, in the May 1, 2012 announcement.

The network signed three-year contracts promising to host the events in Brazil, Spain and Germany through 2015.

In April the network rolled out the expansion in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. The next month was Barcelona. Then Munich. The Summer X Games in August ended an 11-year run in Los Angeles and ESPN announced a four-year deal with Austin to host the multi-sport circus at the city’s new 1,500-acre Circuit of the America’s sports complex.

By most accounts, the international contests were successful. Maybe not successful enough.

“We are proud to have run world-class competitions for both the athletes and spectators; however the overall economics of these events do not provide a sustainable future path,” Guglielmino said in a statement released Thursday.

ESPN promised it remained “fully committed” to the X Games and its competitions in Aspen and Austin. Still, Aspen is waiting for word from the network about Winter X contests beyond 2014. The latest two-year contract between Aspen Skiing Co. and ESPN expires after the January 2014 contest, after 13 years of X Games at the ski company’s Buttermilk ski area. Aspen had bid to retain the winter circus. Heavenly and Squaw Valley ski areas in the Lake Tahoe region of California also submitted a joint bid. The network has said an announcement on a potential new Winter X host will land this fall.

November 25, 2013


Unless you have been sleeping under a rock you have probably seen a Ken Block Gymkhana video. For those of you who haven’t, Gymkhana is a style of driving that was developed by ken block and debuted in the original Gymkhana practice video. Gymkhana is best known as being able to drive an all wheel drive vehicle through or around obstacles with a little traction as possible. Starting in what I can only assume was his own DC funded WRX Ken Block has become a well sponsored icon of the Ford racing team and now has backing from sponsors like Need For Speed and GoPro. Ken Block has made a professional driving career that aspired from his original video. He has become a world renounced rally car medalist, almost single handedly gotten rally car racing into the Xgames, and created his own event series GYMKHANA. Ken Block is truly a Cinderella story in the automotive world and has brought rally car driving on to the map in the United States. All this happening while drift car racing was making its huge impact on the american car enthusiasts as well. While neither Ken Block GYMKHANA nor Drifting are my personal styles of driving I do see these styles of driving like art, this type of driving take more patience, tenacity, and know how then most people can start to fathom. Automobiles are built for more then just push the pedal and go, there is a certain feeling you get when its just you and your car pushing the limits.

November 17, 2013

Jetman Glider

Years ago we told you about Yves Rossey,a.k.a. Jetman, when he managed to pull off some aerial loops and roll himself like a plane while wearing a jet pack, thousands of feet up in the air and at over 200 mph. He was 51 at the time. Rossey must be getting bored. He released another video a few weeks ago and he is jet free this time. Yep. A human glider. (at age 53 to boot!) And apparently there will be an opportunity in the future for you to learn the art of gliding from Jetman himself.
His human glider video (below) will make you stop and say WOW. Not just about the beautiful Swiss scenery. But he drops out of the plane at over 11,000 feet (3,500 meters). He maneuvers his way around peaks and through valleys at about 150mph and even builds up enough speed to regain 300 feet in one fell swoop. Remember, this is all in an unpowered glider! Like with the jet pack he landed safely with assistance of a built-in parachute.  The tease Jetman offers at the end of the video is the fact that Jetman Glider School is coming soon. Meaning you could learn from this pilot and inventor. There is no other information given yet, but we’ll stay on it. Maybe you can join me in school!

May 4, 2011

Windsurfing versus Kitesurfing

I was recently told that kitesurfing was far easier to learn than windsurfing, and privately I disputed this theory vowing to check it out when I next had some time in front of a computer. So here I am, checking it out, to find that everyone including Wikipedia says “The sport has a considerably steep (i.e. longer) learning curve when compared to other so-called “extreme” sports, like snowboarding, freeride mountain biking or kitesurfing.”

In fact, Wikipedia goes even further with this wonderful analogy: Learning to windsurf can be compared to chess in that there are many pieces moving in different directions which you have to keep track of. After a few goes most finally catch on. Whereas learning to kite board is more like learning checkers.
So, I was wrong. It’s harder to learn to windsurf than kitesurf…

Although you can teach yourself to windsurf, it is adviseable to get a lesson. The thing about teaching yourself is that you will undoubtably pick up some bad habits and they will be very difficult to get rid of later.

So how does windsurfing compare to kitesurfing speed-wise?

In the old days, when the windsurf boards were huge and heavy and the sails enormous, it was very difficult to get high speeds out of a windsurfer, but despite this, in 1983, Fred Haywood became the first Windsurfer to go over 30 knots, an incredible achievement for those days.

Nowadays, with the lighter boards, smaller sails, improved designs (see previous article: hi-tech materials catapult windsurfing into the space age) much greater speeds can be achieved. The Fanatic Belgian Speed Week are just coming to an end. Held in France, the trials have had a challenging week with varying wind conditions. Results are not yet out, but we’ll keep you up to speed as soon as they are…

The challenge in the past has been to see who would be the first to break the elusive 50 knot barrier – the holy grail of speedsailing. Would it be a sailboat, a windsurfer or even, possibly, a kitesurfer?

It was Sebastien Cattelan who did it first, and did it kitesurfing. Subsequently, and most recently, Rob Douglas broke the record again with an astonishing 55.65 knots (103.06 km/h)… at the Luderitz speed trials in Namibia, and again it was kitesurfing that claimed the victory.

Hydroptére, the fabulous experimental sailing hydrofoil, briefly reached 56.3 knots (104.3 km/h; 64.8 mph), in 2008, but capsized shortly thereafter and so the result cannot be counted. She is on record for sustaining a speed of 52.86 knots (97.90 km/h) for 500m in 2009.

The windsurfing world is not far behind. The 50 knot barrier still holds firm, but not necessarily for long. Irish born sailor Finian Maynard, competing for the British Virgin Islands, reached an average speed of 48.70 knots on a windsurfer over a 500 metre course at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (France) in 2005.

The current world record is held by Antoine Albeau, who, in 2008, reached 49,09 knots, (90,91 km/h), on the canal which was specially built for record attempts at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue, South of France. At the age of 36, Antoine Albeau dominates the sport. He has 11 world titles to his name and an innumerable collection of national titles. Along with Bjorn Dunerbeck, he is the most titled European windsurfer.

But it will take some time before a beginner is windsurfing like this! The first thing a beginner must master is balance and core stability. Then he needs to acquire a basic understanding of sailing theory, and learn a few techniques before progressing from board sailing to windsurfing. Which takes us back to where we began – get a lesson, it will speed up your progress!

Once this sport is mastered it can be enjoyed, even at an advanced level, for many years and then at a more sedate level for considerably longer still.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the I.R.S.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.

May New Year's Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night.

May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.

May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, may the commercials on TV not be louder than the program you have been watching, and may your check book and your budget balance - and include generous amounts for charity.

May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parent, your siblings; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.

And may we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God's love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.

Wishing you the best in 2011.

December 28, 2010

Badass of the Week - Sir Edmund Hillary

Since I still don't have much time to write a post like I usualy do and that the post about Reinhold Messner didn't go unnoticed; here is another article from an amazing website I often read to put a smile on my face! It might seems long to read but I guaranty you it's worth it! Just read the first two paragraphs and if you didn't laugh, you most likely have a problem! Source :


Sir Edmund Hillary
"The feeling of fear, as long as you can take advantage of it and not be rendered useless by it,
can make you extend yourself beyond what you would regard as your capacity."

They said it was physically impossible. Unconquerable. A fucking suicide mission only attempted by dumbasses, arrogant fools and the criminally insane. He proved them wrong.

The man who would come to be known simply as "Sir Ed" was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1919. The tall, gangly Kiwi studied Mathematics in college and took a job working as a part-time beekeeper on his father's bee farm, where he basically spent all of his time pissing off bees and wearing sweet hats. Apparently, the summer is the off-season for beekeeping (who knew?), so during these months young Edmund would travel out to the sprawling mountains of his homeland's South Island to seek adventure in any form he could find it - hiking, skiing, having awesome barbecue cookouts and climbing around in the New Zealand Alps. Even though he was kind of lanky and goofy-looking, Hillary quickly learned that he had a knack for mountaineering. He was always the fastest man up the mountain, and his strength, endurance, and ability to function normally in high altitudes meant that he was always the guy standing on the summit first, hurling boulders down at his friends like Donkey Kong trying to make shit difficult for Mario.

Unfortunately, Ed's long relaxing summer days spent clinging to the side of a mountain for dear life trying desperately not to plummet several hundred meters to his death were cut short by a little international tiff known as the Goddamned Second World War. Hillary was conscripted into the New Zealand Air Force, where he served as a navigator on one of those huge-ass awesome airplanes that can take off and land in the middle of the fucking ocean. During a particularly nasty adventure tearing ass over the Pacific, strafing the Japanese like a less-furry version of Baloo from Tale Spin, Hillary's plane caught fire, leaving him a little more medium-rare than most people would like to be. He received his medical discharge and was sent home, where he was once again free to pursue his hobby of making the most formidable mountains in Oceana his bitch. Over time he decided to take on bigger and better obstacles, traveling to the Swiss Alps and later the Himalayas. In 1951 he served as part of the British reconnaissance expedition to Mount Everest, and in 1952 he went up the Himalayan peak of Cho Oyu. After these warm-up runs, it would be in 1953 when the 33 year-old Edmund Hillary would make a name for himself as one of the bravest and most badass explorers of the 20th Century. This was the year he would attempt to summit the "unclimbable" mountain - Everest.

Nowadays, I guess climbing Mount Everest is impressive and all, but it doesn't really seem like that big of a deal. In the past few decades thousands of people have made it up to the summit, and it almost seems as though pretty much any jackass in half-decent physical shape with three months of vacation time and an endless supply of money with which to spend on frivolous shit can buy themselves a panoramic view of the Himalayas from the Roof of the World. Shit, there's even a fucking reality TV show about it... how badass could it possibly be?

Well in March of 1953, it was the last frontier in the known world. No human being had ever set foot on the mountain's peak, and many of the world's best scientists and mountaineers believed it to be impossible. In the years since the discovery of the highest mountain on Earth, there had been thirteen documented expeditions - large, well-funded teams consisting of the best climbers on the planet making a push towards the one part of the world that man had yet to stand upon. Every attempt met with epic failure. Sixteen men perished on the mountain, frozen into blocks of ice buried deep in the snow like a bunch of prehistoric neanderthals, never to be heard from again. At best, attempting this mission was an excruciating exercise in futility. At worst, it was suicide. But Sir Edmund Hillary had giant cast-iron balls, and he didn't fucking give a shit. He was going to fucking seek out adventure, attempt the greatest feat of physical strength and stamina that this planet has to offer, and god help anybody dumb enough to get in his way.

So twelve British climbers, along with a couple hundred support crew, marched 190 miles from Katmandu to Everest Base Camp. This alone was probably pretty nuts, considering that I probably haven't walked 190 miles in my entire life combined, let along through the rocky, treacherous Himalayan countryside. On the ascent up Everest, it was Hillary's job to forge a route through the previously-uncharted Khumbu Icefalls. Just so you have some kind of frame of reference, this is the fucking Khumbu Icefalls:

Holy shit, I damn near get fucking vertigo standing on a ladder to hang Christmas lights - and that's even with someone holding the other end of the damned thing. This guy not only went through this shit, but he was the fucking first person to do it. It's one thing to see another dude successfully do something crazy without dying, and another thing entirely to blaze a fucking trail like this. In fact, most of the shit on this expedition was uncharted and undocumented, meaning that Hillary and his crew had to pioneer their own routes, fix their own ropes, and basically risk falling hundreds of feet to a painful death on top of poisonous spikes every single step of their lives over the span of about three months. Thanks to their determination, endurance and luck the climbers finally reached the South Col of Everest at 25,900 feet on 26 May 1953. From there, they prepared for their final assault on the summit.

Just camping out on the South Col is no picnic, let alone working your way up a sheer wall of solid ice with nothing but a rope, a giant nutsack and an ice ax. At altitudes of around 26,000 feet you are in what is known in mountaineering as the "Death Zone" - which sounds like the name of a bad Sci-Fi Channel TV series about a futuristic prison complex run by cyborgs but is actually the height at which human beings are unable to sustain basic life functions. The air pressure and atmospheric oxygen in the Death Zone is about one-third of what it is at sea level, meaning that the act of sitting still is almost enough to make you run out of breath (especially if you're fat and out of shape). Every movement becomes a struggle. You are constantly at risk of altitude sickness and fatal afflictions such as pulmonary or cerebral edema. Your digestive system shuts off since your body can no longer afford to expend the calories necessary to process food (that's bad). Your brain begins to be foggy, and you constantly feel like you've just gone on an all-night opium-and-booze bender and haven't slept for three days. This is a bad situation to be in, especially when you are surrounded at all times by things that can kill you in incredibly painful ways - avalanches, crevasses, black ice, strong winds, and freezing sub-zero temperatures so cold that frostbite can start knocking your fingers off within seconds. In these conditions, carrying 30-pound rucksacks on their back, Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa climbing partner Tenzing Norgay set out on the morning of 29 May 1953 to assault the summit of the baddest motherfucking mountain on Earth.

For five hours they fought up the mountain. Near what they believed to be the top, Tenzing and Edmund came up to a forty-foot tall wall of sheer rock that seemed almost impassible. Hillary forged a path up this obstacle that had no man had set foot on before - a treacherous path of rock and ice known today as the "Hillary Step":

When he started up the Step, Hillary couldn't even see the top of it. He just had to fucking make shit up as he went along, fighting the freezing cold, the insanely high-altitude, and the ripping fifty mile per hour winds that constantly threatened to blow him off the mountain and send him careening to his death like Wile E. Coyote. His experience served him well. At 11:30AM on 29 May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay officially conquered Mount Everest, kicking the toughest mountain on Earth in its figurative, non-existent ballsack.

The way down was no easier than the ascent. The gusting wind had blown fresh snow over the mountain, covering up their tracks and leaving them at risk of becoming hopelessly lost. After four grueling hours the men returned to the South Col. When one of Hillary's climbing partners came up to him asking how the assault went, Hillary simply said, "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off." Word reached England of Hillary's success on the same day as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and shortly after he was knighted. But Sir Ed was just getting warmed up.

In 1958 Hillary led the New Zealand component of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, a British mission to explore the South Pole for some wacky scientific purposes nobody really gives a shit about. After helping set up New Zealand's Scott Base on Antarctica, Hillary and his buddies hopped on some crazy-ass tractors and hauled ass full-speed towards the pole, becoming the first men since 1912 to stand on the South Pole. He was later criticized for putting adventure ahead of the expedition's scientific goals, which is awesome. Real badasses don't let shit like science stand in the way of doing over-the-top shit.

Hillary climbed ten more Himalayan peaks during his career, including a kickass expedition to Makalu in 1960 where he was determined to find evidence of the Abominable Snowman. My guess is that he intended to stake his claim as the first human to ever punch a fucking Yeti in the face so hard that it coughed up blood, but unfortunately his mission didn't meet a whole lot of success. In 1977 he rode a jet ski from the mouth of the Ganges River to the source just for the fuck of it. In 1985 he and fellow badass Neil Armstrong traveled to the North Pole, thus making Hillary the first man to stand and both poles and the summit of Everest, which rocks.

Sir Ed was also pretty badass in that he did great things for the community. In 1960 he started the Himalayan Trust, a community service program dedicated to giving back to his Sherpa homies. Over his lifetime, the Trust brought 26 schools, two hospitals, two airfields and twelve medical clinics to impoverished Himalayan villages. The organization also worked to repair ancient monasteries, build bridges, plant trees, and hook up running water. Even better, Hillary wasn't the sort of motherfucker who was just going to write a fat check and forget about it either - he flew out during the summers, grabbed a shovel, and built some of that shit himself.

Sir Edmund Hillary's adventures earned him numerous awards and medals for bravery, including the highest honors of New Zealand and Great Britain. In 1992 his face was put on New Zealand's $5 bill, which is pretty fucking awesome considering that he was still alive to see it. On 11 January 2008 Hillary died of heart failure at the age of 88. He was humble and modest, but never hesitated to push himself to the max, seek out insane awesome adventures, and make the impossible his bitch.

"For New Zealanders, Sir Ed was everything a good bastard ought to be - modest and humorous, brave and compassionate, and just grouchy enough to remind us he never sought, nor particularly enjoyed, adulation."

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas tells us that life is not just an existence, but a wonderful miracle. Live every moment with joy and gratitude. May you carry this thought with you all through the year. Spread the warmth of the Christmas season to all those around you and make this world a beautiful place to live in. Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

December 24, 2010

Badass of the Week - Reinhold Messner

As it is almost Christmas, I don't have much time to write a post like I usualy do so here is an article from an amazing website I often read to put a smile on my face! It might seems long to read but I guaranty you it's worth it! Just read the first paragraph and if you didn't laugh, you most likely have a problem! Source :

Reinhold Messner
"After Messner, the mystery of possibility was gone;
there remained only the mystery of whether you could do it."

- Ed Viesturs

They don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in other parts of the world, but if they did you could be damn sure that the gods of the Himalayan Mountain range would be thankful for the fact that Reinhold Messner isn't still out there making the most formidable and deadliest mountains on Earth look like a bunch of pussies.  It's been a while since the man universally-recognized as the world's greatest mountaineer has jammed his crampons into some unsuspecting Himalayan crevasses, but this guy spent the majority of the 60s, 70s, and 80s pretty much dominating the fuck out of every mountain on the planet.  Even today, the 68 year old hardass hasn't ruled out the possibility of coming back and pimp-slapping the Himalayas in the Kanchenjunga once more for old time's sake… and nothing freaks them out more than the prospect of staring down this grizzled old ironman and his icy stare of death once again.

The greatest mountain climber of all time was born in a place called Brixen, South Tyrol, which is technically part of Italy but may as well be Austria anyways.  He summited his first mountain at the age of five, when his no-bullshit ex-Nazi father helped him get up the 11,000-foot Geisler Peak.  It's appropriate that Geisler Peak was located in the Dolomite section of the Alps, because even though this guy was at an age where he should barely be old enough to know how to tie his own shoes, he was already announcing to the world that Messner was his name, and fucking up motherfuckers was his game.  He was like the Mozart of doing crazy shit, climbing a number of Alps and Dolomites in his youth and making everybody else feel badly about their own lifetime accomplishments in the process, and by the time he was a teenager he had already made a name for himself as an insane climber who worked at ridiculous speeds and basically refused to do anything that didn't involve being balls-out all the time.

Back in this time most mountain climbing was done "expedition style", meaning that you drove out to base camp with a huge donkey-load of crap, fixed ropes, made Sherpas do all the actual work, and then clipped yourself onto a sturdy rope and walked up to the top.  It was like taking an escalator to the summit.  Messner decided that this was totally cheating (and also bullshit), so he pioneered his response – "alpine style" mountaineering was where you carry everything you need on your back, and move as fast as possible with no crazy bullshit and no help from anything other than your own hardcoreness.  He went without supplemental oxygen tanks, satellite phones, metal protection pegs, fixed ropes, or other things designed to ensure that you don't , you know, die on the mountain, and just do it up badass style – man versus mountain, winner take all, loser ends up face-down in the snow and waits until their corpse gets eaten by a Yeti.  Messner was the first man to climb many of the Alps and Dolomites in this way, and he did it faster than anyone and with a way more awesome beard/headband combination.  Slopes that took others four days, he was beating in five hours.  It was like Tyson knocking the fuck out of the Number One Contender with a first-round uppercut.  In his spare time, when he wasn't setting the land speed record for summiting the Matterhorn, Messner got a degree in Architectural Engineering – a specialty that, not being a liberal arts major, was totally not a load of crap.

As a man who refused to half-ass anything in his life, Messner decided that for his first Himalayan expedition he was going to go straight up the highest sheer rock face in the world – the 15,000-foot, ice-covered face of Nanga Parbat.  In 1970 he became the first person to ever summit this Gateway to Hell using this borderline-suicidal route, then he camped on the summit, descended the other side, and subsequently became the only person to ever cross the mountain from one side to the other.  This was cool, but it was less awesome that he lost his brother in an avalanche and had seven toes amputated because of frostbite in the process.  Unwilling to be beaten by anything in the world, animate or otherwise, Messner would later go back and become the first person to solo the mountain, climbing it by himself in 1978 without losing any digits in the process.  It was the first time any person had summited a Himalayan peak above 26,000 feet without a climbing partner, but it wouldn't be the last.  Later on, when people claimed that Messner's account of his brother getting swept away in an avalanche was bullshit, Messner went back once again, found the body, recovered what was left of it, and proved that those chumps who called him out as a liar were a bunch of "rat-soup-eating insecure honky motherfuckers".

After getting up Nanga Parbat without supplemental oxygen, Messner decided he was going to take his alpine style awesomeness all the way up Mount Everest – the tallest and most formidable mountain in the world.  A brutal little hill that had only been summited for the first time 25 years earlier (by fellow badass climber Sir Edmund Hilary), Messner not only risked death by attempting to climb it, but he shocked the world in 1978 when he announced that he was going to do it without supplemental oxygen.  People thought that Messner was fucking psychotic and should have had a strait jacket slapped on him for even suggestion something so ridiculous, because, as far as the climbing community was concerned, if this guy thought he was going to survive at that altitude without an oxygen tank he was probably more fit to climb the walls of a padded room than he was to ascend Everest.  At five miles above sea level the oxygen density of the air is one-third of what it is at sea level, and most scientists thought that it was impossible to survive in that climate without suffocating to death or causing serious, irreversible brain damage.  Hilary's research had shown that the air was too thin to support the circulatory system in anything more strenuous than complete rest, and even modern scientists agree that it's impossible for the human body to acclimatize at that altitude – 8,000 meters is the beginning of what's known today as the "Death Zone", where lack of oxygen causes severe loss of strength, and the brain stops functioning the way it's supposed to, causing normal people to freak out, do stupid shit, become retarded, and then die.  Ascending into the Death Zone without an oxygen tank is a ballsy move even today, but in 1978 Messner might as well have been telling people that he was going to explore the wreckage of the Titanic without SCUBA gear.

It was kind of like this.
Only without the ladder, ropes, or anything resembling a safety feature.

But Reinhold Messner told everyone else the bullshit intellectual community to pound an enema and blow their stupid science out their sphincters, because nothing was going to stop him from grabbing the conventional wisdom about the limits of human endurance, taking it out behind the woodshed, and murdering it into sludge with a rusty hatchet.  His 1978 expedition up Everest was like a brutal Ali-Frazier slugfest with Geography itself – he got caught in a storm on the South Col, suffering through 125 mph winds and temperatures of 45-below-zero for two days straight, and the altitude was so thin that he woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air because the simple act of sleeping was enough to cause the guy to lose his breath.  Messner stuck with it though, charging up the mountain face under impossible conditions.  By the time he reached the Hilary Step he was collapsing every 10 to 15 feet, laying down in the snow to catch his breath for a few minutes so he could push on, but he persevered, kicked ass, summited, and returned home victorious. His success rocked the pants off of everybody, and actually forced physiologists to go back to the chalkboard and re-examine the human body's ability to function at altitudes that can only be described as TOTALLY XTREME TO THE MAX GONZO RAAAARRRRR OOOH YEAH.

Just to prove that it wasn't a fluke, Messner went back two years later and soloed the North Face without oxygen, Sherpas, or crevasse ladders, becoming the first (and to this day, only) person to ever go that way without an air tank. Oh, and he summited the mountain in four days.  It usually takes most mere mortals a little over a month.

I got this.

After Everest, the Messner-Bot 8000 kept rocking through the Alps and Himalayas like they were his bitches, going up Annapurna, K2, Lhotse, Mount Doom, the Aggro-Crag, Space Mountain, Witch Mountain, both Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Shisha Pangma, and Cho Oyu.  This guy blitzed up and down these daunting mountains, faster than anyone, using routes nobody else had even attempted, and setting speed records in the 70s still not beaten to this day.  A bunch of people have died on these brutal mountains, but this guy didn't care – he was so hardcore he did two 8,000'ers (Gasherbrum I and II) one right after the other without even returning to camp first, and didn't even slow down.  This was another first in the history of mountaineering, but this guy has so many "firsts" at this point that it's barely even worth mentioning it.  By 1986, the 42 year old Messner had ascended all 14 mountains in the world taller than 26,000 feet, becoming the first (and for a long time only) human to ever accomplish the feat.  Oh, and he did it all without supplemental oxygen or fixed ropes.  And with only three toes.  Some of the ascents took a couple tries, which is no small feat when you're talking about taking an expedition out to Nepal and Pakistan, but Messner was a god damned force of nature, and wasn't going to let any bullshit mountain get the better of him.  He kept kicking those peaks in their giant ice-covered asses with a pointy set of crampons until he'd accomplished what is quite possibly the most extreme demonstration of human endurance a person can attempt.
For every 2.5 people who summit Annapurna, one person dies on
 its slopes.  It's the deadliest 8,000-meter mountain in the world, yet when
discussing Messner most people don't even bother mentioning it.

Once he got into his fifties, Messner's days of sprinting up and down the Himalayas like they were speed bumps on the road of extreme awesomeness were behind him, but that didn't stop this guy from doing ridiculously badass shit like all the time.  In 1989 he walked 1,700 miles across Antarctica carrying all of his supplies on his back, using a technique pioneered by Shackleton, and from there he went on to cross Greenland, the Tibetan Plateau, and a couple of deserts.  In 2004, at the age of 60, he walked 1,200 miles across the Gobi desert on foot.  He also spent 12 years investigating Yetis in the Himalayas (he determined that the myths were based off of sightings of Tibetan brown bears), and served in the Italian Parliament from 1999-2004 under a platform that basically consisted of the political tenet that "Mountains Kick Ass and We Shouldn't Screw with Them".

Nowadays Messner lives in a hilltop 13th century Italian castle with his hot girlfriend, some kids, and a herd of pet yaks.  He runs the Messner Mountain Museum, a collection of artifacts from climbing history, and he has a charity that collects trash and other bullshit discarded on Himalayan mountains by careless wannabe mountaineers.  He's authored 60+ books, was the subject of a Herzog documentary, and is to this day universally recognized as mountaineering's equivalent of Jordan, Kobe, LeBron and Larry Bird all rolled together into the body of a grumpy, crotchety old hardass.

Messner herding some fucking yaks outside his castle in South Tyrol.

December 22, 2010



Heli-skiing is off-trail, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter. It is essentially about skiing in a natural – albeit highly selected – environment without the effort or gear compromise required for hiking into these areas as in ski touring or ski mountaineering.

Most heli-skiers are seeking specific, pleasurable skiing conditions that are hard to replicate in the highly manipulated terrain of ski resorts: particularly powder snow, but also long descents, natural terrain contours and features, smooth corn snow, old-growth tree glades, steep and extreme slopes, or for the more adventuresome, wild snow and a natural, variable environment.

The presence of the guide and machine offer some protection against the risks and discomforts unavoidably associated with entering this mountainous environment, allowing skiers with little or no mountain sense to enjoy a wild environment.


The mountain terrain that helisking takes place in is diverse. Runs vary from high alpine glaciers, to alpine bowls, to steep chutes, to gladed trees. Rarely, operations have runs nearing 3,000 meters in vertical relief. Average runs are more likely 700 meters.

The type of terrain skied correlates to the mountain topography and snowpack characteristics where an operator is based. For example, Alaska heliski operations generally lack tree skiing due to the low tree line yet ski glaciated peaks where the strong maritime snowpack clings uniquely to very precipitous slopes. Meanwhile, Canadian operations with their old growth forests often ski tree runs for challenge, better visibility and wind-sheltered snow – especially during periods of inclement weather. Inland mountain ranges have thinner, weaker snowpacks which generally offer the lightest powder and best weather, but somewhat less extreme slope angles due to increased slab avalanche hazard and dry, fluffy snow that simply falls off extremely steep terrain.

Heli-skiing can take place in remote mountain regions where seldom visited terrain exists. However, helicopters are expensive to operate over long distances, economically favoring operation near paved, plowed road heads. Controversy often erupts when heli-skiing conflicts with wilderness values or overlaps with self-powered backcountry riding near established ski areas and population centers at these same road heads. This conflict has led to bans on heli-skiing in France and other European Union countries, strict regulation of landing zones elsewhere in the Alps, and active citizen resistance to unfettered helicopter access in places like Utah's Wasatch Mountains. Non-motorized winter users specifically object to the noise, air pollution, carbon footprint, mechanical disruption of undeveloped natural areas, and unfair competition for untracked snow in areas easily and more frequently reached by foot.

Skills and techniques

Canada-style heli-skiing is identical in execution to downhill skiing. There are no special techniques involved. Being able to consistently ski intermediate and advanced ski resort runs is a requirement, however.

Europe-model heli-skiers also need to be competent in ski mountaineering, which adds climbing uphill on skis and occasionally using ropes, ice ax and crampons.

All heli-skiers must be able to manage skiing along all types of terrain and be able to get down the hill in all possible snow conditions. Avalanche awareness is helpful, but it is not mandatory, since it is the guides duty to mitigate this danger through client training, careful route selection and group control.

The expense and short duration of both the heli-skiing contract and evanescent snow conditions can lead to a "feeding frenzy" mentality when the clients are making multiple runs. Canada-model heli-skiers seek to maximize vertical drop and number of runs, so skiers need to be reasonably fit and take advantage of efficient gear to avoid slowing the group.

Equipment and gear

Avalanche transceivers are required and a buddy system is mandatory because of the danger of avalanches. Clothing needs mirror ski resort activity level: layered clothing fit for sub-zero temperatures, goggles, hat, ski gloves, and neck warmers. Having a backpack is a requirement, and is used to carry avalanche rescue gear. European-model heliskiers are really just ski mountaineers with a vertical assist, so they require ski touring equipment appropriate to the location and conditions, including glacier travel equipment if necessary.

Fatter off-piste, powder, freeride or "all-mountain" skis are used by the majority of heli-skiers. They are less tiring in use and handle difficult terrain more easily. The introduction of these skis, originally known as "fat boys", has led to an increase in the amount of vertical feet skied, as the skiers become less tired and spend less time looking for lost skis. They have also been linked with decreased injury rates.

Requested by : Wilson Berry

December 19, 2010


What is Speed-Flying ?

Speed Flying is a new winter sport created by paraglider pilots and skydivers looking for a new sensation and to create a link between gliding by ski and gliding through the air. For a few years, pioneers have used skydiving parachutes or modified kites. Now there are a specially designed SpeedFlying wings and gliders. Linking the flight of a glider with the turn of your skis adds a whole new dimension to the descent from a mountain.

It’s an exhilarating sport which will excite and fascinate both participants and spectators. This new sport has taken the slopes by storm, quickly attracting more and more enthusiasts as the buzz of excitement sweeps across Europe! First in France, where Speed Flying was born, but now also in Switzerland and Austria with Italy and Germany not far behind. As it's an extreme sport in the same league as Skydiving and BASE jumping etc. It is also very dangerous with a high risk of injury or even death. Wings can reach speeds in excess of 100km/h in the hands of the top Speed Flyers but normally are flown between 35 & 70 km/h and unlike Paragliding you don't have a reserve/safety parachute if anything goes wrong.

Two similar sports have been around longer created by skydivers one is called Blade Running, this is where the rider exits an airplane then flys their open parachute down a marked course of Blade shaped flags. The other is Swooping where the pilot again exits an airplane and scores points for tricks and style marks for their controlled swoop landing which is often over water or grass.

Speed-Flying or Speed-Riding ?

Now the sport has been around for a few years the terms Speed-Riding and Speed-Flying have become the standard definitions when talking about the individual activities of both the Winter and Summer aspects of the sport.

> Speed-Riding is flying down snow covered slopes with ski's with frequent ground contact.
> Speed-Flying is flying down snow free slopes after foot launching with no ground contact until landing.

Speed-Flying is also the general definition which covers ALL the activities - both riding and flying and everything in between.



There are few extreme sports to which you could realistically ask for a gentle introduction. ……but speed riding, which is best described as falling down a mountain with grace, is one adrenalin rush that your grandfather could experience and hope to live to tell the tale.

Not that this new French addition to the thrill-seeker’s repertoire isn’t dangerous: hurtling down a snow-covered mountain at 60mph can only be risk-free when you’re at the controls of a Wii console. But this bizarre fusion of skiing and flying comes with an incredible get-out-of-jail-free card that has given it a safety record that’s hard to beat. When you see a rock, tree or Prince Charles and his entourage on the slopes ahead of you, all you have to do is yank on a cord and the paragliding canopy above your head will hoist you straight up and out of the danger zone.

“Base jumping is so extreme that there are no margins,” says 35-year-old François Bon, one of the paragliders who invented the sport at the end of 2003. “You have to be 100 per cent precise and base jumping is little more than a cascade. Speed riding is something that you can learn, slowly. It’s not something you have to throw yourself off the top of a mountain to try out.”.

With just one fatality and a smashed back to date, speed riding is proving insurable and a surprisingly low-risk “danger” sport. “When you see our videos on YouTube, it looks pretty intense,” he says, accurately describing footage of one of his own hair-raising descents of the Eiger. “You’ll see that we’re going very fast and that there’s lots of flying, but when you start out there’s a lot more snow than air.”