Posts Tagged ‘paragliding’

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As extreme sports and extreme vacations go – Chatel has it all

June 16, 2009

Instead of talking about one extreme sport today, I am going to wax lyrical on an area which supplies just about everything you could possibly want to do on an active summer holiday (we’ve already covered this region for the winter season) – Chatel in the Haute Alpes.

In the whitewater sports they offer canoeing (two-strong team), canyoning (jumping, sliding, daredevil abseiling), hydrospeed or whitewater bodysurfing (a slippery, fast, exhilarating experience), rafting (a 7km ride down the Dranse) and kayaking.

Then there’s bobluging… a 650m descent with 7 bends, an average speed of 7m/sec – definitely a fun-filled thrilling descent. There’s a chairlift to get you back up to the top. The bobluge is open from 28th June to 31st August – weather permitting, and closed over the lunch hour.

And then of course there’s the ubiquitous mountain biking.

The Portes du Soleil has around 650 km of marked mountain bike trails and seemingly endless single track to explore. Using the 24+ lifts that are adapted to carry bikes in the summer,  you have access, from Chatel,  to almost every resort in the Portes Du Soleil including Morzine, Les Gets and the Swiss resorts of Morgins, Champery and Les Crosset – this really is prime mountain biking country and  ideal for mountain biking holidays.

ffredt gives us an idea of what the mountain biking is like:

There are also many downhill mountain biking tracks. Châtel bike park is situated at Pré-la-joux and accessible by Pierre-Longue and Rochassons chair lifts, it consists of 13 trails of all levels of difficulty (including 12 downhill courses) and one “Cross park”.

The 27th and 28th June will see the  PassPortes MTB event celebrating its 6th birthday. More than 20,000 people have now participated in this 80km circuit. The event takes place at an altitude of between 1000 and 2250m and covers resorts in France and in Switzerland discovering the Portes du Soleil area and its fabulous landscapes.

You can check out the link here if you’re interested in taking part yourself:

There’s a second competition on the 3rd, 4th and 6th July called the Chatel Mountain Style contest.  Professional and amateur riders will compete over the 3 days on the 300 metre long “Face” course. 22 Pro Riders from all over the world have already entred the competition.

Climbing:

There is also a good range of climbing routes available in the area.

Plaine Dranse is an excellent place to learn with more than 26 routes, but its the Essert waterfall which will suit our readers I think. You can abseil and canyon at this 250m landmark, with two semi-wet and wet routes and six 30-50m descents. Plus the Pas de Morgins which offers 50 climbing routes of 10m-40m and with a difficulty level of 3 – 7.

Of course there are artificial climbing walls too…

And then there’s the Fantasticable…

This is for the thrill seekers, the  adrenaline junkies of this world. Dizzying speeds and astonishing heights in a ride that is unique in the Alps. Safely harnessed you can fly over the Plaine Dranse hamlet at nearly 100kph, 240m up. The length of the first run is 1,200m and the second one is 1,325 and participants must be no less than 35kg and no more than 120kg.

Watch TheBukakeMaster experience the Fantasticable. I love the superman music and the euphoric laughter!

And, of course, paragliding where you can go for a first tandem flight with a professional.

As adventure holidays go, or an extreme vacation for that matter, what more could you possibly want? Discos?  Well of course they have that too: Le Sloopy, to name but one, and to add to the fun they have theme nights throughout the season…
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Speed Riding – an extreme where Europe outranks the Americans

March 10, 2009

This is an extreme sport we have blogged about before but we feel has not been given enough column inches, enough exposure – we are talking about speed riding. It is young – only conceived in 2003 and it is therefore still very young. You can take off from 9,000 feet above sea level and be on the valley floor in less than five minutes. It is fast – very fast – furious and will give you a rush like you have never experienced.

It is also exclusive – born in Europe, more specifically France – it is Europe which far outranks the United States in numbers of participants. Europe affords the space of where to go which you will find is more restricted in the US – whereas up to 4,000 can be found practicing the sport in Europe the numbers in the United States are only a few hundred.

Further more it is claimed to be safer than a number of other pastimes but in the same breath it is also said to be safe – see what you think in the video below from r1g2b3 which shows action from……….well the Eiger of course, where else would you go for a buzz after lunch on a quiet Sunday afternoon!

A combination between paragliding and skiing we went in search of some info for you and were rather chuffed to find that Wikipedia did not have an entry for speed riding (at least not in the top 10 of our Google search!). It was to the www.Telegraph.co.uk where we turned and found this article by Mike Peake.

‘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.”

Designated speed-riding slopes and classes started springing up on the Alps three winters ago and since then hundreds of people have been certified as bona fide speed-riders (or speed fliers, as they are sometimes called) by the French Paragliding Federation. There are between 3,000 and 4,000 speed-riders worldwide and the sport has found friends in America, Japan, Scandinavia and New Zealand, although Bon insists its home is on the slopes of Les Arcs in the French Alps, where it was first conceived.

“When we started many skydivers and paragliders wanted to try it,” he says, “but now it’s mostly skiers. They’re not used to flying or using canopies, but that’s no problem because it’s better to be a good skier than a good flier. The rest you can learn.”

An adventurous speed-rider is looking for height, good snow and an exciting descent and the hardcore elite hire helicopters to drop them in places that would otherwise require a week off work. Kit consists of a pair of skis, helmet, goggles and a specially-designed canopy that is closely related to the traditional paragliding rig.

The idea of following the contours of a mountain while paragliding isn’t new: paragliders have been skimming mountain tops for years, sometimes with tragic results. But once Bon and his friends latched on to the idea of doing it with skis over more fall-friendly snow, they were onto a winner.

“We knew that the chance to fly fast and close to the snow would be very exciting,” says Bon, a paragliding test-pilot and former member of the French national team. “So we started to play with some existing canopies that we modified. By 2005 we were designing products specially.”

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.”

But just like every sport, speed riding does have its golden rule. “It’s all about controlling your speed,” says Bon. “To run out of speed makes the glider fall down. You don’t want to be on a big slope and totally reliant on your skis if there are cliffs and the risk of avalanche. I’m only happy when I can see that canopy above me.” ‘

So where do you go if you want to give it a go and what do you need:

  • probably a very good idea about how to ski to a proficient level
  • equipment will be provided by your instructors
  • training essential
  • in Europe try www.speedriding-school.com
  • in the US try ………..uh – we cannot find a teacher – now there’s an opportunity

Now watch this totally crazy footage from nimpO of Antoine Montant – another Frenchman – speedriding his way out of the path of an avalanche that would have swept all else before it – awesome.

… yet another thing you can do with a kite!

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2009 Nissan Outdoor Games – extreme

February 20, 2009

The second edition of the Nissan Outdoor Extreme Winter Games are happening right now in Chamonix.

5 international teams of extreme  sporting professionals have, this week,  been climbing, freeriding, BASE jumping, wingsuit flying and paragliding their way around the valley in an attempt to make the most impressive extreme sports short film.

Do you know what the Nissan Outdoor Games is all about? Here’s a quick video from OutdoorGamesTV to remind you…

The films will combine the skills of the individual athletes as well as the creative talents of the film crew that they work with.

Chamonix, the death-sport capital of the world as it has been described in the past, is the perfect backdrop for Nissan’s second games . This quote, from someone who lived in and loved Chamonix many many years ago, personifies Nissan’s quest:

“The great object of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even        though in pain; it is this craving void which drives us…” Lord Byron

The results will be displayed on a giant screen in the Outdoor Games Village  in the Tourist Office square today, Friday 20th, and Saturday 21st February, and prizes will be awarded for Best Sport’s Sequence, Best Photography and Jury’s Special Award.

There will also be an opportunity to talk to the experts themselves or try your hand at ice climbing, slack-rope walking and the climbing wall.

On Saturday there will also be two air shows combining BASE jumping, wingsuit flying, speed flying, acro-paragliding and hang gliding. The first one will take place at mid-day on the Aiguille du Midi and the second will be above the Grands Montets ski area at 3pm.

Cham will be at her best – difficult when lovers of Chamonix say she is ALWAYS at her best, but Cham has it all this weekend, and with the fantastic snow conditions that Europe has had this season, this year’s films should capture some amazing images of the valley and surrounding regions.

This was the Ride The Planets winner last year, again thanks to OutdoorGamesTV for posting it:

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Iceberg climbing extreme in the northern Atlantic

February 12, 2009

Last night we told you about Erik Weihenmayer and Chad Jukes who are scheduled to attempt an ice climb on the Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado today – another thing happened last night – our dog went missing. We knew where she was but didn’t think our neighbour would be best pleased to see us in the middle of the night.

Anyway to cut a long story short during the process of collecting the dog our neighbour mentioned ‘ice berg’ climbing. Something we had never heard about and therefore when back in front of the computer we pressed the research button.

Wurr, jig, jig and the answer is there is not much to find. As an extreme sport goes this must be about as occasional as they come. But with the help of Google and YouTube we have put together this small but none the less interesting piece about ice berg climbing.

All we could find was this story about Will Gadd, a Canmore, Alberta resident who’s won every major ice-climbing competition and holds the distance world record in paragliding.

Gadd had the thrill of his life climbing icebergs. He and Ben Firth, 29, went on a hunt for grounded bergs in Newfoundland but ended up climbing floating chunks in the Labrador Sea. With the ancient ice’s unpredictable rolling and cleaving, the two quickly learned the dangers of getting too close to the buoyant masses.

In his own words:

‘I’ve been called crazy many times, but never more than when my bud Ben and I climbed icebergs ten miles off Labrador’s coast. It was surreal to be hanging by my ice ax above 35-degree (2-degree Celsius) water that looked so tropical. Soon after I jumped off this brittle, 10,000-year-old berg, a dump truck-size block broke off right where I’d been perched! We learned that mountain boys may well be out of their depths in the North Atlantic.’

We have pulled this video from DailyPlanetClips which shows Will Gadd climbing an ice berg off the Labrador coast – the only thing is it does not show him summitting the berg!

Interesting bloke this Will Gadd – we learn that he is a paraglider, mountaineer and ice climbing pro – why is it that we get the feeling that this is not the last time we will hear about the extreme adventures of Gadd.

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Go to Peru for your extreme vacation

February 11, 2009

Peru is gaining in popularity as the place to go for indulging in your chosen extreme sport. Whether it be paragliding, surfing, wind surfing, kite surfing or mountain climbing Peru offers some great venues in unrivalled settings and no doubt at a price more reasonable than bak home.

One of the most popular of these sports is paragliding. Peru’s beautiful mountainous terrain and vast unspoilt landscape provide scenic views that make it an unforgettable location for paragliding. What’s more, low-turbulence laminar winds make Peru an ideal location for practicing those difficult paragliding manoeuvres that most weather conditions would not permit.

The video below comes from leontienkragten and shows his paragliding holiday in Peru where all the best paragliding venues were visited – great action.

As well as continuing to grow in popularity as a paragliding location, Peru has also developed a reputation as a surfing destination, particularly amongst spring break students. Peru’s enviable position on the Pacific Ocean means Peru can offer surfers some of the longest waves that are to be found anywhere in the world. In fact, such waves – which often stretch for several kilometres – combined with its reliable weather and relatively unspoilt beaches make Peru an ideal location for a surfing holiday.

Probably the most famous of all Peru’s surfing locations is Chicama; with waves that can stretch more than 4kms, Chicama is the professional surfer’s dream come to true. In addition, 60km up the coast lies another of Peru’s most popular surfing destinations, Pacasmayo; whilst the waves don’t tend to be as long, they can still reach around 500 metres in length.

The video from altubo below is a great representation of the length of the waves to be found at Chicama.

Although popular with surfers, over the past few years the area has also begun to attract a large number of kite and wind surfers. With wind-speeds averaging around 14 knots, the area is perfect for such water spots, the Peruvian coast providing a beautiful backdrop for an unforgettable surfing holiday.  This video from kiteclub shows excellent kite surfing action and a brief glimpse of wind surfers in action.

While Peru’s warm seas and long waves have made it a haven for surfers, its rugged mountains and high peaks make it a mecca for mountain climbers. One of the most popular climbing spots is the Cordillera Blanca mountain area near Huaraz.

Although the mountainous region offers various peaks for climbers to enjoy, Huascaran – Peru’s highest peak – always proves to be the most popular. Sitting high above the Rio Santa valley, Huascaran offers unforgettable views of the Peruvian countryside and a challenging climb to mountaineers of all levels. The video from grillbiller shows a successful Danih expedition to summit Huascaran in 2008

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U.S. mountaineer dies on Aconcagua

January 19, 2009

It is always tragic to report on a death but in this particular summer climbing season in the southern hemisphere Aconcagua has now claimed its fifth nationality. This time is was an American who died on Friday while scaling Argentina’s Aconcagua mountain, becoming the fifth climber to perish this month on the highest peak in the Americas, officials said.

An army patrol on a training operation came across the man lying on the ground and calling for help in the afternoon after he was apparently hit by falling rock at 16,400 feet (5,000 meters), said Julio Suarez, police spokesman in Mendoza province.

The man died an hour later as squad members were carrying him down to a base camp. A doctor there confirmed he died of a head injury and a pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, Suarez said.

Mountaineers must register to climb the 22,841-foot (6,962-meter) Andean peak, and Suarez said the man signed in as 51-year-old Arthur D’Lisle of Kansas, hiking alone. But officials at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires did not immediately return phone calls or e-mails seeking to confirm the victim’s nationality and identity.

Two to three people typically are killed every year while climbing Aconcagua, according to Juan Pablo Marziane, head of logistics with a climbing expedition company in Mendoza.

But at least five have already died during the 2008-2009 summer climbing season in the Southern Hemisphere.

Last week, an Italian and her Argentine guide died after being caught in a brutal snow storm, and an Englishman died steps from the summit of an apparent heart attack. A 42-year-old German climber fell into a crevasse and perished on Jan. 3.

Suarez also said rescuers are searching for a 31-year-old French citizen who attempted to scale one of Aconcagua’s toughest routes and has been missing since Jan. 4.

Six hundred people signed up to attempt the summit this season.

The amazing thing about the human spirit is that it never ceases to challenge itself. As if climbing the 22,000 feet of Aconcagua was not extreme enough the guys in the video below did not only that but then launched themselves from the summit and paraglided back down the mountain. Suppose the logic must have been to save time – ok understood! Enjoy and thanks to sdean10 for the great video.

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Nissan outdoor games 2009

November 15, 2008

A big shout goes out to all extreme sports enthusiasts to attend the 2009 Nissan Outdoor Games which will be held at Chamonix, France from Saturday 14th February to Friday 29th February.

The concept is to create a 5-minute film uniting 5 outdoor sports activities: Mountaineering, Snowboarding, Paragliding & Hang gliding, Skiing, BASE Jumping & Wingsuit flying. The world’s best specialists in each discipline utilize their creativity and sense of adaptation to present their sport and their level of performance to enrich a scenario.

The teams will have 7 days (from Saturday February 14th to Friday February 20th, 6pm) to film and edit a short 5-minute film: a definite challenge. All teams will be working on the same playground, the massive Mont Blanc mountain range.

It will be a lot of fun as can be seen from the video of the 2008 event which can be seen below – thanks anton9393 – so why don’t you get your boney butts down there.