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.”

December 17, 2010

Freerunning - Urban Acrobatics

Free running or freerunning is a form of urban acrobatics in which participants, known as free runners, use the city and rural landscape to perform movements through its structures. It incorporates efficient movements from parkour, adds aesthetic vaults and other acrobatics, such as tricking and street stunts, creating an athletic and aesthetically pleasing way of moving. It is commonly practiced at gymnasiums and in urban areas (such as cities or towns) that are cluttered with obstacles.

The term free running was coined during the filming of Jump London, as a way to present parkour to the English-speaking world. However, the term free running has come to represent a separate, distinct concept to parkour — a distinction which is often missed due to the aesthetic similarities. Parkour as a discipline emphasizes efficiency, whilst free running embodies complete freedom of movement — and includes many acrobatic maneuvers. Although the two are often physically similar, the mindsets of each are vastly different.

The founder and creator of Free running Sébastien Foucan defines free running as a discipline to self development, following your own way, which he developed because he felt that parkour lacked enough creativity and self-expression as a definition of each free-runner to follow your own way.

Free running was inspired by Parkour and embraces elements of tricking and street stunts, which are considered by the parkour community to be inefficient and not parkour. They may jump building to building, scale walls, and a lot of other maneuvers that they perform. Initially, the term "free running" was used by Channel 4 in their documentaries called 'Jump London' and 'Jump Britain' in an attempt to "translate" the word parkour to the English speaking people. Although Free running is a slightly different sport as it is not all about efficiency and is more about an art and finding your own way (be it the use of acrobatics, parkour, etc.). Also, one of the world-wide recognized founders of parkour, Sebastien Foucan said that free running is more about finding your own way, and free running is what he called his own way. However, as free runners became interested in aesthetics as well as useful movement, the two became different disciplines. The term Freerunning was created by Guillaume Pelletier and embraced by Sebastien Foucan to describe his "way" of doing parkour. Foucan summarizes the goals of Freerunning as using the environment to develop yourself and to always keep moving and not go backwards.

While Freerunning and parkour share many common techniques, they have a fundamental difference in philosophy and intention. The main aim of parkour is the ability to quickly access areas that would otherwise be inaccessible and the ability to escape pursuers, which means the main intention is to clear their objects as efficiently as they can, while Freerunning emphasizes self development by "following your way". Foucan frequently mentions "following your way" in interviews, and the Jump documentaries. He explains that everyone has their way of doing parkour and they shouldn't follow someone elses way of doing it, instead they should do it their way. Freerunning is commonly misinterpreted as being solely focused on aesthetics and the beauty of a certain vault, jump, etc. Although a lot of free runners choose to focus on aesthetics, that is just "their way", the goal however is still self development. In Freerunning you may employ movements of your choosing. You might also do certain movements solely for their aesthetic value and the challenge of execution. Freerunning is essentially complete freedom of movement.

It must be noted that not one of the founders and developers of the discipline, apart from Foucan, see two separate disciplines in parkour and freerunning. L'Art du deplacement, the original name, was practiced by the founders in the same way as it is practiced today by those same individuals. The discipline was not originally about 'moving from A to B' but rather was a way of testing oneself physically and mentally, to see if one was 'strong' (hence the Lingala term Yamakasi meaning 'strong man, strong spirit'). Parkour Generations, the largest global collective of first and second generation traceurs, explains in several articles and video interviews that while acrobatics is indeed a separate practice, Parkour, Freerunning and L'Art du Deplacement are all different names of this discipline.

Another contentious issue that may either continue to make a rift between the parkour and the free running communities or possibly strengthen their bond is the idea of professional and amateur competition. From the start the parkour community has been always against the idea of serious competition as it violates the foundations of the philosophy of parkour. Sebastien Foucan mentions in an interview that although they do hold competitions, he doesn't like competition, and it's not "his way", but it may be someone else's "way".

The perceived conflict between free running and parkour occurred when the term parkour was translated as free running for the English-speaking public, and the misconception arose that they were separate disciplines. Some state that free running is a variation on parkour, and that the definitions are interchangeable. This argument has validity due to the fact that the creators never specifically defined the disciplines as "separate". However, free running does employ superfluous movements which would seem to be in conflict with the original ideology of parkour.

Injury from my first ever free-running style of run

December 15, 2010

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a sport which consists of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially adapted mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes, but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain.

This individual sport requires endurance, core strength and balance, bike handling skills, and self-reliance. XC type mountain biking generally requires a smaller range of skills but a higher level of fitness than other types of mountain biking. Advanced riders pursue steep technical descents and, in the case of freeriding, downhilling, and dirt jumping, aerial maneuvers off of specially constructed jumps and ramps.

Mountain biking can be performed almost anywhere from a back yard to a gravel road, but the majority of mountain bikers ride off-road trails, whether country back roads, fire roads, or singletrack (narrow trails that wind through forests, mountains, deserts, or fields). There are aspects of mountain biking that are more similar to trail running than regular bicycling. Because riders are often far from civilization, there is a strong ethic of self-reliance in the sport. Riders learn to repair their broken bikes or flat tires to avoid being stranded miles from help. Many riders will carry a backpack, including a water bladder, containing all the essential tools and equipment for trailside repairs, and many riders also carry emergency supplies in the case of injury miles from outside help. This reliance on survival skills accounts for the group dynamics of the sport. Club rides and other forms of group rides are common, especially on longer treks. A combination sport named mountain bike orienteering adds the skill of map navigation to mountain biking.

The Bikes

Downhill mountain bikes are heavier and pricier than their counterparts, cross country mountain bikes. Typically weighing 30 to 50 pounds, priced at $1,800 to $5,000, downhill mountain bikes are designed with slacker head angles (read a more upright riding position) meant to tilt the rider's mass rearward, away from the slope of the hill. Handlebars are low and relatively flat, reminiscent of motocross bikes. Dual, long-travel suspension is the norm, as are thick and wide, soft tires, for better rebounding. Also the forward crank is festooned with chain guides rollers to keep the chain on the cranks and sprockets and the rider bombs away downhill at high speeds and over large obstacles.

Modern-day downhill mountain bikes are equipped with disc rather than pad brakes. Hydraulic lines rather than cables are the norm, for better leverage and braking modulation. Given their weight, frame geometry, and lack of clipless pedals, downhill mountain bikes are bikes you're going to have much fun riding uphill.

Protective gear

The style and level of protection worn by individual riders varies greatly and is affected by many factors including terrain, environment, weather, potential obstacles on the trail, experience, technical skill, fitness, perceived risk, desired style and others too numerous to mention. A cross-country helmet and simple long fingered gloves are a good minimum for the majority of riding.

Limb protection becomes important when speeds rise, surfaces become loose and sketchy, terrain technical and crashes more common and more severe. Full-face helmets and armored suits or jackets are more suited to "gravity" and "air"-orientated disciplines which use jumps and drops, where their extra bulk and weight is outweighed by the bigger and more frequent crashes with worse consequences. Still, within XC community, the typical road-racing attire is what most riders use. Whatever protection is used it should fit well, be comfortable (or it won't be worn) on the bike as well as in the shop and suited for the particular type of riding. Gloves can offer increased comfort while riding, by alleviating compression and friction, and protection in the event of strikes to the back or palm of the hand or when putting the hand out in a fall. Gloves also protect the hand, fingers, and knuckles from abrasion on rough surfaces such as concrete.


Cross-Country (XC) is the most popular form of mountain biking, and the standard for most riders. It generally means riding point-to-point or in a loop including climbs and descents on a variety of terrain. A typical XC bike weighs around 9-13 kilos (20-30 lbs), and has 0-125 millimeters (0-5 inches) of suspension travel front and sometimes rear.

Downhill (DH) is, in the most general sense, riding mountain bikes downhill. The rider usually travels to the point of descent by other means than cycling, such as a ski lift or automobile, as the weight of the downhill mountain bike often precludes any serious climbing. While cross country riding inevitably has a downhill component, Downhill (or DH for short) usually refers to racing-oriented downhill riding. Downhill-specific bikes are universally equipped with front and rear suspension, large disc brakes, and use heavier frame tubing than other mountain bikes. Because of their extremely steep terrain (often located in summer at ski resorts), downhill courses are one of the most extreme and dangerous venues for mountain biking. They include large jumps (up to and including 12 meters (40 feet)), drops of 3+ meters (10+ feet), and are generally rough and steep top to bottom. To negotiate these obstacles at race speed, racers must possess a unique combination of total body strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and mental control. Minimum body protection in a true downhill setting is knee pads and a full face helmet with goggles, although riders and racers commonly sport full body suits to protect themselves. Downhill bikes now weigh around 16-20 kilos (35-45 lbs), while professional downhill mountain bikes can weigh as little as 15 kilos (33 lbs), fully equipped with custom carbon fibre parts, air suspension, tubeless tires and more. Downhill frames get anywhere from 170-250 millimeters (7 to 10 inches) of travel and are usually mounted with a 200 millimeter (8 inch) travel dual-crown fork.

Four Cross/Dual Slalom (4X) is a sport in which riders compete either on separate tracks, as in Dual Slalom, or on a short slalom track, as in 4X. Most bikes used are light hard-tails, although the last World Cup was actually won on a full suspension bike. The tracks have dirt jumps, berms, and gaps. Professionals in gravity mountain biking tend to concentrate either on downhill mountain biking or 4X/dual slalom because they are very different. However, some riders, such as Cedric Gracia, still do 4X and DH, although that is becoming more rare as 4X takes on its own identity.

Freeride, as the name suggests is a 'do anything' discipline that encompasses everything from downhill racing without the clock to jumping, riding 'North Shore' style (elevated trails made of interconnecting bridges and logs), and generally riding trails and/or stunts that require more skill and aggressive techniques than XC. Freeride bikes are generally heavier and more amply suspended than their XC counterparts, but usually retain much of their climbing ability. It is up to the rider to build his or her bike to lean more toward a preferred level of aggressiveness. "Slopestyle" type riding is an increasingly popular genre that combines big-air, stunt-ridden freeride with BMX style tricks. Slopestyle courses are usually constructed at already established mountain bike parks and include jumps, large drops, quarter-pipes, and other wooden obstacles. There are always multiple lines through a course and riders compete for judges' points by choosing lines that highlight their particular skills. A "typical" freeride bike is hard to define, but 13-18 kilos (30-40) lbs with 150-250 millimeters (6-10 inches) of suspension front and rear.

Dirt Jumping (DJ) is one of the names given to the practice of riding bikes over shaped mounds of dirt or soil and becoming airborne. The idea is that after riding over the 'take off' the rider will become airborne, and aim to land on the 'landing'. Dirt jumping can be done on almost anything but the bikes are generally smaller and more maneuverable hardtails so that tricks e.g. backflips, are easier to complete. The bikes are simpler so that when a crash occurs there are fewer components to break or cause the rider injury.

December 13, 2010

Motivation - "Be Great, Powerful Beyond Measure"

Imagine for a moment that you have been given this one day to live--there are no yesterdays or tomorrows. If that were true, how would you experience this day differently? What would you choose to think, see, and do?

Today truly is when life's dramas will unfold. We can learn from the past and plan for tomorrow, but we can't live in the past or future. The present moment is where we will experience life. This day is filled with tremendous possibilities for growth and achievement.

We can choose to dwell on yesterday's hurtful memories, or we can see through the eyes of a child--with newness, joy, and the thrill of adventure.

Pause today. Experience deeply all the sights and sounds around you. Allow yourself to feel each emotion that this day brings. Take a moment to relax and let your imagination flow without limitation. Allow the possibilities of this day to become clear in your mind.

Then walk through this day in keen awareness, mindful of the miracles and possibilities it offers. Today we can build new dreams and discover solutions to unsolved problems. There will be chances to see, hear, touch, taste, feel, laugh, and love that we've never had before.

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) wisely said, "We all have possibilities we don't know about. We can
do things we don't even dream we can do."

Inside each person there are possibilities he or she has not discovered. When we rush through the day without observing our thoughts, we overlook those possibilities. Living with intentional awareness will strengthen and broaden our vision of possibilities.

This moment can be a new beginning. There will be thrilling possibilities to see if you will stop, look, and listen with your mind and heart.

Self-esteem enhances performance in every area of life. It is an abundant supply of positive self-regard and recognition of the Creator's unique gifts to you. It is a favorable opinion of self without feeling the need to prove your worth.

Encouragement given to others is a great catalyst for their achievement, and it is the same for you. When you encourage yourself, you feel more decisive. You are able to tap your potential more quickly.

Here are five important principles to remember about self-esteem:

1. Those with high self-esteem take complete responsibility for what happens in their lives. Instead of wasting time finding fault, they look for ways to change themselves to create new circumstances.

2. Self-esteem does not need outward approval. It is sufficient in and of itself.The individual will accept other's approval with gratitude, but intuitively knows when he or she has done well.

3. Self-esteem sees from a perspective of abundance, not scarcity. It carries the confidence to ask for and accept with gratitude a limitless supply of God's love and goodness.

4. Self-esteem is filled with faith and forgiveness. The person believes that they can have the life they desire. They trust their creative ability enough to reach for their dreams. They forgive themselves when missing the mark, and continue toward their objectives with tenacity and resolve.

5. Building high self-esteem after feeling low self-esteem is a process. It is helpful to spend time each day focusing on things done well. Record each of your successes. Congratulate yourself for the smallest victories.

Take a few moments each day to focus on and reinforce your strengths and potential. You'll be pleased with what you discover.

Here's a special shout out to Kazzamm who I think deserve to be part of this motivational post since he puts a constant effort into losing some weight. May you be an inspiration to all!

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
-- Henry David Thoreau

Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
-- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can't have it.
-- Robert Anthony

December 11, 2010

Ice Cross Downhill - Red Bull Crashed Ice

The Experience

Never heard of ice cross downhill before? Neither had most of Canada until the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship exploded onto the world of hockey in 2001. Now held annually in January, this extreme sports event in Quebec City draws followers and participants from around the world.

Think of downhill skiing but substitute skating instead; then add in some great roller derby action. Throw in some BMX biking jumps. Combine all of this with ice hockey athletes, a 196-foot vertical drop over a 1,280 foot track—and you’ve got ice cross downhill.

This exciting new sport sends four skaters down the course as they vie to finish first while careening along at speeds up to 43 mph. It’s crazy, fun and scary all at the same time. Although rules do not permit any physical contact, crashes occur on a regular basis, which excites the crowds even more.

In 2009, two Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships were held: one in Quebec City, with another in Munich. The upcoming 2010 season promises to be bigger and better than ever with events to be held in Munich again, Valkenburg in the Netherlands, and Moscow; with the event finale to be held in their original Quebec City location.

Athletes from around the world participate in the event, and notables have been Adam Green, Anthony Yearego, and Brian Zhou from the U.S.; Louis-Philippe Dumoulin, Gabriel Andre, Kevin Olson, and Christian Papillon of Canada; along with seven-time Red Bull Crashed Ice World Champion Jasper Felder of Sweden, who’s also a U.S. citizen.

In 2010, the Red Bull Crashed Ice track was almost attached to the gorgeous Chateau Frontenac, and ended at Place de Paris on the St. Lawrence River in downtown Quebec City. Each year the course is changed slightly to continually add more challenges to the already dizzying course.

Join more than 120,000 fans to watch the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships. It’s a great spectator sport for anyone who’s a hockey fan or for those looking for a thrilling event to watch up close and personal. Ice cross downhill is an exhilarating event that inspires young athletes to have fun and do their best when competing. And of course, you get the added bonus of being in vibrant historical Quebec City.

What is and isn’t allowed at the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship?

It may sometimes look like anything goes on the ice, but there are strict rules which have to be adhered to at all times. With four athletes racing down courses as narrow as five metres in places, there are inevitably plenty of thrills and spills at every Red Bull Crashed Ice stop. However, any athlete judged to have intentionally slowed down or stopped another athlete by unfair means – for example by tripping or holding onto the other racer’s jersey – will be disqualified from the competition.

Where will the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship 2011 take place?

In 2011 the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship comprise four stops: Munich (GER), Valkenburg (NED), Moscow (RUS) and Quebec (CAN). The World Championship once again kicks off in Munich, where 50,000 hardy souls braved the January cold in 2010 to witness local hero Martin Niefnecker (GER) take victory. Next up is the historic city of Valkenburg in the Netherlands, a hotbed of talented speedskaters and a brand new stop to the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship. Just weeks later the athletes head off to another city making its debut, the Russian capital Moscow, where temperatures well below zero and perfect racing conditions are guaranteed. Finally, the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship once again returns to Quebec (CAN) for the season finale, where in 2010 an incredible 120,000 fans lined the huge course winding its way through the city’s beautiful old town to see Canadian skater Kyle Croxall take the win in front of his home crowd.

Would you guys be crazy enough to try this out?

December 10, 2010

Wingsuit Base Jumping (aka Wingsuit Flying)

If you've ever dreamt of soaring through the air like a superhero, you're not alone. Dreams of flying­ have captivated human imagination since prehistoric times. Even with the advent of aircraft and the increasing availability of air travel, the ancient question stays with us: What if we could simply spread our arms ­and fly like a bird?

Human flight with wingsuits traces its history back to the 1920s and 1930s, when “bat men” tried to fly using suits made of canvas, whalebone and wood. About 90 people in the early part of the 20th century were documented as having tried to fly, more than 70 died in their attempts to be a ‘flying man’. The materials used were very archaic and didn’t fly well but with construction of the wingsuits becoming safer in the 1990s the popularity and reputation of this extreme sport has gained a momentum that will only gather pace.

Wingsuit flying is a cross between skydiving and hang gliding. Like both of these activities, wingsuit flying requires the flyer to either jump out of an aircraft or off a precipice to achieve a high enough altitude. While hang gliders can coast in for a safe landing, wingsuit flyers have to deploy their parachutes and float the rest of the way to the ground -- they simply can't reduce their speed fast enough for a safe landing without the use of a chute.

In the United States there are less than 10 wingsuit flying academies, Scott and Chris Gray operate one such academy at Skydive Orange,in Virginia. Wingsuit pilots need to have extensive parachuting experience. At The Brothers Gray, people need to have completed at least 200 skydives and hold a current skydiving license to try wingsuit flying. Scott Gray said some people with more than 500 skydives are legally allowed to don a wingsuit and jump without instruction, but it isn’t recommended because the suits require more skills to fly. After jumping out of the plane, wingsuit pilots spread their arms and legs at a certain time and immediately begin to fly. As they float around at speeds in excess of 100mph altimeters keep them aware of how close they are to the ground. The level of a wingsuit pilot’s license determines how low they can go before deploying their parachute.

        Special thanks to Smatchimo for showing me this amazing wingsuit flying video!

A cautionary tale.

Since 1981, there have been at least 124 basejump and wingsuit fatalities around the world, according to the World Base Fatality List, a website maintained by a base jumper. Those risks haven’t kept about 1,500   base jumpers/wingsuit flyers around the world from making an estimated 40,000 jumps annually, said Martin Tilley, owner of Asylum Designs, an Auburn, Calif. company that makes equipment for base jumping. “Base jumping (and wingsuit flying) is never going to go away,” he said. “You’re never going to eliminate the desire for people to thrust themselves off fixed objects and float safely to earth with the aid of a parachute.”