Archive for September, 2008


What is the Difference Between Basejumping and Wingsuit Flying?

September 30, 2008

Basejumping is the extreme sport of parachuting from the tops of very tall natural objects or constructions such as cliffs, towers, or buildings. The margin for error in BASE jumping as compared to wingsuit flying or skydiving is much narrower. Once they jump, they have only a few seconds to deploy parachutes packed specially to fill with air quickly.

Correctly spelled, basejumping should be BASE jumping, with the ‘BASE’ being capitalized. It is an acronym for Buildings, Antennae, Spans, and Earth, in other words the sort of things one can jump from via parachute. ‘Earth’ replaces cliffs because  BASC jumping doesn’t have the same panache does it? In French it is ‘le base jump’ – which has more panache than ‘saut d’un point fixe’!

The Perrine Bridge over Snake River, Twin Falls, USA is the only manmade location in the United States where so-called BASE jumpers aren’t required to get a special permit for year-round jumps. Here you have a 3-second freefall before pulling the ‘chute during a 486ft descent. zulufan1 posted this video of Perrine Bridge.

Just like any other extreme sport, BASE jumping can result in injuries or even death. Even if you’ve had extensive training, the best gear, perfect weather conditions, and you’re smarter than the rest of the jumpers in your group, you can be injured or killed.

In most of the United States, jumpers often face arrest. The National Park Service doesn’t permit BASE jumping anywhere, including from the monoliths of Yosemite National Park, where six people had died, one of these being a woman who was protesting the ban. An 876-foot bridge over West Virginia’s New River Gorge is open just once a year.

Wingsuit flying, on the other hand, is the art of flying the human body through the air using a special jumpsuit, called a wingsuit (or squirrel suit), that shapes the human body into an airfoil which can create lift. The wingsuit creates the airfoil shape with fabric sewn between the legs and under the arms. A wingsuit can be flown from any point that provides sufficient altitude to glide through the air, such as skydiving aircraft or BASE jumping exit points. The flier will deploy a parachute at a planned altitude and unzip the arm wins to they can reach up to the parachute control toggles and fly to a normal skydiving or BASE jumping landing.

Thanks to FRICKMAN for this one and the BASEjumping beside the waterfall.

And I’ll end with an amazing video from ChrisGronski.  Just watching it raises your adrenaline levels … nerves of steel those guys must have.

A cautionary tale.

Since 1981, there have been at least 123 BASEjump and wingsuit fatalities around the world, according to the World BASE Fatality List, a Web site 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.”


Goodbye to the Golden Age of Hollywood

September 29, 2008

It wouldn’t be fitting not to pay tribute to one of Hollywood’s greats and an ‘adrenaline junkie’ himself – Paul Newman.

He was the all-time action hero who for decades has personified cool, lived the same daredevil, risk-taking life off screen that he enacted on screen and had the enigmatic quality that gives a leading man star quality.

He will be remembered for his many movies: The Hustler, Sweet Bird of Youth, Cool Hand Luke and the most famous buddy film in history, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also acted in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor, Hud, Nobody’s Fool, The Verdict, The Colour of Money, A Long hot Summer with Joanna Woodward, The Sting … to name but a few.

Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward

It’s not easy for screen mega-stars to grow old gracefully and stay on top at the same time, but Paul Newman recognised the passage of time and chose his roles carefully. Thus he’s the only ‘pretty-boy’ screen-god to have retained the absolute respect of critics and public alike.

Thanks to gazzella59 for this wonderful picture portfolio.

He retired form acting on 25 May, 2007. He told a US broadcaster at ABC that he couldn’t continue acting at the level he wanted to. “You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

The mesmeric appeal of his sapphire eyes were a source of frustration to him. He once famously said, “To work as hard as I have, to accomplish what I have accomplished, and than have some yo-yo come up to you and bark: ‘Take off those dark glasses and let’s have a look at those blue eyes’… it’s really discouraging.”

He loved making movies, but perhaps he loved motor racing even more. “Nothing can take its place,” he said recently. “To enjoy the sensation of driving and racing, and to be able to see the effect of it in your mirrors, that extra 10 feet you built up coming out of a particular corner. You know, that’s the kick in the ass. That, my friend, is living.” As late as last year, he was still careering around the racetrack at 180mph.

And he was deeply committed to his charity work. He co-founded Newman’s Own, the food company from which he donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. As of May 2007, these donations had exceeded US$220 million. When asked why he gave so much to charity his response was , “you can only have so many suits in a closet.”

I have read many of the tributes to him, but this one sums him up I think:

“Though he was, in my opinion, the single most beautiful man to ever grace the silver screen, he was much, much more than a pretty face. Long before the likes of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp he broke free of the shackles of being a matinee idol to take on edgy, interesting roles, Newman was flexing his acting muscles and subverting his own image in excellent films like The Verdict. His last on-screen film performance in 2002’s Road To Perdition was an excellent and poignant end to an astonishing career, while his appearance in the Coen Brothers’ underrated The Hudsucker Proxy is a reminder that he was also a great, though under-used, comic actor. He will be sorely missed.”

and this one:

“Weep not for Paul Newman but celebrate his life, both in films and in the lavish generosity of his charity work. A truly remarkable man who positively influenced all the lives he touched either through his films, through his motor racing or his charities. He will always be remembered and for all the right reasons.”

He died on 26th September, 2008, aged 83, surrounded by his family and close friends. Our deepest condolences go to his wife of 50 years, Joanna Woodward, and his family.


Jack Osbourne in the news Again…

September 29, 2008

Having just done an article on the celeb who cleaned himself up so well, it’s nice to see him back in the news being labeled a hero having foiled a bag-snatching attempt in Marylebone, London.

It was not a publicity stunt – a police spokesman, yesterday, confirmed that Jack was involved in the incident.

Known for his love of outdoor sports, Osbourne lost three-and-a-half stones before climbing El Capitan while filming the first series of Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie.

Jack Osbourne nabs thief in central London

Apparently Jack noticed the man behaving suspiciously outside a coffee shop, saw him snatch the bag, and ran after him like a man possessed. He then wrestled the robber onto the ground and held him, with the help of other shoppers, until the police arrived.

The robber was lucky Jack didn’t use his martial arts expertise on him!

Jack’s comment on the excitement, “I could see the girl was in trouble, it just felt like the natural thing to do. I’m glad it turned out okay.”

The fourth series of Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie has just begun. The first episode saw Jack and Elijah Wood’s tandem swing off Victoria Falls bridge, white water rafting down the Zambezi and becoming the first people to cross from one side of the Falls to the other on ropes.

But watch the show because later in the series Tom Felton, Wendi Peters and Gemma Atkinson are going to dive with sharks, try aerial acrobatics in a stunt glider, dive out of a helicopter over Cape Town, ostrich race … amongst other things. Real adrenaline junkies…

Just to give you an idea of what Jack and Elijah undertook…


How Safe is Bungee Jumping?

September 28, 2008

When we bungee jumped not so long go with The Big Air Company at Victoria Falls, it seemed to us extroadinary that you were putting all your faith in a bit of strapping around your ankles and a long cord of elastic. Sure, there’s the safety harness too – but it’s what’s around the ankles that, psychologically, counts, or so it seemed to us, and that seemed awfully flimsy and insubstantial.

Thanks to bubgl1.

The elastic rope first used in bungee jumping, and still used by many commercial operators, is factory-produced braided shock cord. This consists of many latex strands enclosed in a tough outer cover. This gives a harder, sharper bounce. Other operators and most southern-hemisphere operators, use unbraided cords in which the latex strands are exposed. These give a softer, longer bounce, but makes it look as though the elastic is old, weary and about to snap! It isn’t so don’t panic!

Although there is a certain elegance in using only a simple ankle attachment, accidents in which participants became detached led many commercial operators to use a body harness, if only as a backup for the ankle attachment. Climbing equipment body harnesses rather than parachute equipment are generally used. Happily The Big Air Company at Victoria Falls uses the safety harness too!

Despite the possible element of danger in jumping from a great height, several million successful jumps have taken place since 1980. This is because bungee operators rigorously conform to standards and guidelines governing jumps, such as double checking calculations and fittings for every jump. As with any sport, injuries can still occur and there have been fatalities, but not at Victoria Falls. A relatively common mistake in fatality cases is to use a cord that is too long. The cord should be substantially shorter than the height of the jumping platform to allow it room to stretch.

There are a variety of possible injuries during a jump. You can be injured if the safety harness fails, the cord elasticity is miscalculated, or the cord is not properly connected to the jump platform. In most cases this is a result of human error in the form of mishandled harness preparation. Another major injury is if the jumper experiences cord entanglement with his/her own body. Other injuries include eye trauma, rope burn, uterine prolapse, dislocations, bruises, pinched fingers and back injury. People under 40kg are not allowed to bungee jump with The Big Air Company because they are too light for the elastic which means the snap at the end of the stretch would be severe and that is when retina displacement can take place.

However, possible injury isn’t a great deterrent. The adrenaline kick from a bungee jump is so great that frequently people go back for more – and more and even more! Thanks to hollyereid for posting her jumps.


Extreme Ways of Conquering Everest: Helicopter, Shanks Pony, Skis

September 26, 2008

Have you seen this? Not quite an extreme sport when going in by air, but an extreme endeavour and an extreme helicopter perhaps.  

On 14th May 2005 history was made when, at 07h08 (local time), a serial Ecureuil/AStar AS 350 B3 piloted by the Eurocopter X-test pilot Didier Delsalle; landed at 8,850m (29,035ft) on the top of Mount Everest. This achievement breaks the record for the highest altitude landing and take-off ever. It was done as a kind of publicity stunt by Eurocopter, the maker of the helicopter, but it has huge implications for future ascents of the highest peaks.

Stepping out of his helicopter; Didier Delsalle commented “To reach this mythical summit definitively seemed to be a dream, despite the obvious difficulties of the target to be reached; the aircraft demonstrated its capability to cope with the situation…. sublimated by the magic of the place.”

 Thanks to bajarunner for the video.

This is the other, hitherto and still more normal way to do it, shanks pony, thanks to rahulrathan for this video of an immensely satisfying achievement:

And finally, and remembering that this is an extreme sport site, here’s a video of the ultimate extreme adventurer, the Japanese alpinist, Yuichiro Miura, attempting to ski down Everest. It’s not only the ski-ing that’s an achievement… bear in mind he had to carry his skies up initially to be able to ski down! Thanks to YummyDVD for the video:

However, since Yuichiro Miura made the attempt, Everest has been successfully skied by Slovenian climber Davo Karnicar It took Karnicar four days to reach the summit of 29,035-foot Mount Everest, but only five hours to come down – on skis.

With a camera on his helmet and without ever taking off his skis, the 38-year-old ski instructor made it from the summit to the base camp at 17,500 feet on Oct. 7, 2000, becoming the first person to complete the whole trip in one run.

Karnicar put his skis on at the summit, 29,028 feet above sea level, before heading for the base camp, more than two miles below. The 38-year-old Slovenian skier made three stops on his way down: one to fix the camera on his helmet, one to meet other members of the climbing expedition and one before skiing down the Icefall – a journey under ice blocks that can unexpectedly break and fall at any time.

“I want to celebrate and feel the success for the rest of my life. This is just great,” Karnicar told The Associated Press on Monday after returning from the mountain.

Thanks to bvirc for putting this video on youtube.


Would You Ever Bungee Jump?

September 26, 2008

Somebody described it as ‘the ultimate leap of faith’… and it is an apt description. Extreme in the extreme, unnatural without doubt, crazy is in there somewhere, mad too – but an adrenaline thrill? … YES!!!

It is interesting how many articles I read which says – this IS the highest bungee jump. Just yesterday in the Jack Osbourne research, they claimed that the dam wall which features in the James Bond movie ‘Goldeneye’ was the highest bungee jump in the world – but I have it on good authority (Guinness Bood of Records) that Bloukrans Bridge just east of Plettenberg Bay, South Africa IS the highest jump in the world at 216m (710ft).

Bloukrans Bridge

So what is the truth behind all these claims? 

The Verzaska dam wall, the James Bond one, near Locarno, Switzerland claims to be 220m (720ft).

There is an even higher jump though, but it is a commercial one – the Macau Tower in Macau, S.A.R. China, is 233m (760ft).This jump, however, does not qualify as the world’s highest bungee as it is not strictly speaking pure bungee, but instead what is referred to as a ‘Decelerator-Descent’ jump. The bridge at Bloukrans and the Verzasca Dam jumps are pure freefall swinging bungee from a single cord, while the Macau Tower jump has a secondary cable which controls descent and trajectory, thereby failing to take the place in the record books.

Thanks to wownnames for this video.

Guinness only records jumps from fixed objects to guarantee the accuracy of the measurement. John Kockleman however recorded a 2,200-foot (670 m) bungee jump from a hot air balloon in California in 1989. In 1991 Andrew Salisbury jumped from 9,000 feet (2,700 m) from a helicopter over Cancun for a television program and with Reebok sponsorship. The full stretch was recorded at 3,157 feet (962 m). He landed safely under parachute.

One commercial jump higher than all others is at the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. The height of the platform is 321 metres (1,053 ft). However, this jump is rarely available, and only as part of the Royal Gorge Go Fast Games—first in 2005, then again in 2007.

So, that’s that one sorted out. Officially it does appear that the Swiss jump is the highest and I suppose it is only a matter of time before the Guinness Book of Records updates this entry… Thank you to Wikepedia for the clarification.

So, would you travel to the ends of the world to do the ultimate bungee jump?

Then don’t forget Victoria Falls. Although no longer the highest, at 111m…

Victoria Falls' Second Gorge (with bridge) and Third Gorge (right). The peninsular cliffs are in Zambia, the outer cliffs in Zimbabwe.

second gorge with bridge and third gorge on right

… it is still the most spectacular. The setting – plunging head first into the Batoka Gorge, must rate as one of Africa’s most iconic adventures. My vote for the best setting is still Victoria Falls.


A Famous Adrenaline Junkie – Jack Osbourne

September 25, 2008

Last night I was surfing through the television channels when what did I come across – Jack Osbourne and Elijah Wood doing a tandem swing at Victoria Falls, completing a 3-day white water rafting trip on the Zambezi and becoming the only people to have ever hauled themselves across the actual Falls themselves on ropes – from one side to the other. Elijah Wood was bowled out by the beauty of the Falls from that angle and was in no rush to get to the other side!

This clearly meant that some research was in order – so here I am, crack of dawn, checking out Ozzy Osbourne’s famous son.

First thing that comes to mind is we’ve chosen a lot of our previous articles rather well! Perhaps an explanation is needed there! A lot of what we have written about … Jack Osbourne has tried. A lot of particular places we have mentioned … Jack Osbourne has been there.

He has climbed El Capitan, and tried a 100′ free dive, he has a skydiving license and kick-boxes, he leaps off ocean ledges, surfs in Hawaii, has run with the bulls in Pamplona, had Muay Thai training in Thailand, run the 150-mile ultra-marathon, Marathon des Sables,  through the Sahara Desert, done a gruelling jungle expedition in Central America with Trekforce, has tried the ancient and hard-core combat sport of Kushti Wrestling in India, and in Episode 3 he set off around the world testing his adrenaline-fuelled resolve, but this time taking five young recruits with him. The episode kicked off in the mountains of New Zealand, where Jack pushed his fledgling recruits ‘fear of heights’ to terrifying new levels.

And these are only a few of the things he has done…

Not bad for a previously overweight lad with an addiction problem. He cleans up good doesn’t he…

At the end of filming Adrenaline Junkie 3 Jack was asked why should people watch this show? He replied, “The audience will be able to relate to the show and the people in it, plus the challenges are amazing. I really do hope people enjoy the series and that they gain something positive from it.”

The fourth series of Adrenaline Junkie shows Jack taking on a leadership role as he leads a group of celebrities through similar challenges to the ones he faced on the first two series of the programme.

Jack Osbourne and his celebrity companions take on some of the toughest adrenaline thrills challenges the world can offer. In the Alps he is joined by Happy Mondays icon Bez, Ex-EastEnder Charlie Brooks and Shameless’s Jody Latham. They take on one of the world’s biggest bungee jumps down the front of the dam which featured in Goldeneye, build their very own ice hotel in the mountains, and undertake a terrifying mid-air jump from one cable car to another.