Into the wild

Words: AREK PIATEK Photography: Eric Parker

PARAGLIDING ACROSS WATERFALLS, FREECLIMBING GIANT ROCK FACES, WHITEWATER kayaking OVER RUINS. EXTREME SPORTS STARS REVEAL THE PLAYGROUNDS OF THEIR DREAMS

The two-stage Toketee Waterfalls in Oregon, USA, are 36m high, remote, demanding and dangerous – an irresistible spot for extreme kayakers. American Fred Norquist had to abseil down into the gorge with his kayak in order to reach the falls. “The reward was worth the hassle,” he says. “A magnificent view and 20m drop into raging water. Superb”

© Eric Parker

Wild Water, Ottawa River, Canada

The Deschenes rapids, west of the capital city, are fascinating and dangerous. The Ruins, the remains of a 19th-century dam, have turned these rapids into a kayaking whirlpool and wave paradise. There is no better place for whitewater freaks, especially in the spring when the river is in flood.

© John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool

Dane Jackson, Kayak freestyle world champion

Ten years ago, the municipality wanted to rebuild the dilapidated dam. Thankfully they didn’t. The Ruins create extreme waves, the biggest waves I know of. Which means a huge amount of airtime when you take off and you can perform tricks that you couldn’t do anywhere else. The current is also damned fast, intense and steady. You never have to wait for a wave. Or, to put it another way, you never get your breath back. It’s paradise.

I know nowhere else with waves as big as here. There’s not even a chance to get your breath back
Dane Jackson

© Johannes Mair/Red Bull Content Pool

Freeclimbing, Badami, India

About 150km south of the well-known Indian bouldering location of Hampi is the small town of Badami, which is gaining favour with competitive climbers. There is wonderful sandstone to climb. That Badami has barely been developed for tourism means you can choose your own climbing routes, many of them unspoiled. There’s an old-style sense of adventure here. The downside: rural India public facilities and infrastructure.

© ELIAS HOLZKNECHT

Kilian Fischhuber, World-class competitive climber and boulderer

Sandstone paradise. You can choose from a wonderfully large selection of demanding, unspoiled routes. The best thing of all is the quality of the rock face. All the compact sandstone’s grips are nice. There are no sharp edges or broken fragments: that’s a real luxury. But sometimes the rock gets so hot that freeclimbing isn’t possible here. Oh, and look out for the monkeys! They’re as quick as a flash and notorious thieves. Food, rucksacks, lighters. Always leave your stuff out of sight.

the red sandstone is burning hot in the sun, but you happily take that for the sensation you get climbing here
Kilian Fischhuber

© Ben Thouard/red bull content pool

Surfing, Tahiti, French Polynesia

People have been surfing in Tahiti since the 1960s. Conditions are consistently good between May and September when the wind – the so called ‘roaring forties’ because this is about 40 degrees latitude creates permanent waves that break off the Tahitian coastline.

© Alex laurel/red bull content pool

Michel Bourez, ASP World Surfing Tour event winner

Life in Tahiti takes place in the water, and Teahupo’o is one of the most infamous surfing locations in the world. Its powerful waves and the reef just below the surface of the water are a dangerous combination and even top surfers get scared. My tip for those on their first surfing trip to Teahupo’o is to wait for the gentlest conditions! Ideally, you should paddle out at low tide between five and nine in the morning. The best-case scenario would be waves from the south-west, a northerly wind and clear water.

visiting teahupo’o for the first time? wait for the gentlest conditions
Michel Bourez

© michael clark/red bull content pool

Parachuting, Eloy, USA

A small town in the middle of the Arizona desert is the centre of the biggest skydiving region in the US, and a hotspot for parachutists who flock here from all over the world. Its favourable climate offers good conditions all year round: hardly any rain, wind or clouds. There is a large number of both skydiving clubs and suitable aircraft.

© michael clark,/red bull content pool

Jon Devore,​ leader of Red Bull Air Force skydive team

“The area is huge and superbly isolated and that guarantees, as a skydiver, that you won’t get in trouble with local residents because there aren’t any. Up in the air the view is terrific: sky as far as the eye can see. Extra special are jumps at sundown. Sand, rocks, cacti - all shimmering in orange light while you’re hurtling towards the ground at about 300kph. What more could you want?

up in the air here the view is terrific: sky as far as the eye can see
Jon Devore

© Thomas de Dorlodot/Red Bull Content Pool

Paragliding, Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

On the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, these falls are the largest in Africa.  The Zambezi River, almost 1,700m wide at this point, drops 100m into a narrow gully. Locals call the resulting mist of spray Mosi-oa-Tunya, the smoke that thunders. It can reach 300m into the air. Book an official guided tour by helicopter if you want to see the falls from above. 

 

© Vitek Ludvik/Red Bull Content Pool

Thomas de DorlodotParaglider who once flew 225km in eight hours

We took off under a full moon in powered paragliders at 5am, just above the trees. Our plan was to do a not-necessarily-permitted scenic flight over the falls before the first sightseeing helicopters arrived. It’s dangerous competing for airspace with helicopters and the authorities, including the army, have no time for paragliders. Plus, there’s nowhere really to land if you have engine trouble. But it all went well: it was a breathtaking experience. Incredible rainbows in the mist, the violent roar of the water. Faced with the biggest curtain of water on Earth, we felt like Livingstone, the first European to see the falls back in 1855.

it was a breathtaking experience. rainbows in the mist, the violent roar of the Water
Thomas de Dorlodot

© Christian Pondella/red bull content pool

Climbing icebergs, Labrador, Canada

There are only 400 people living in the hamlet of Makkovik, on the north Canadian coast. The average annual temperature is 0°C: ideal conditions for icebergs, which drift not far off land even at the height of summer. And these are very particular icebergs. The significant difference between the temperatures of the core and the surface create such tension that an iceberg could explode at any second and fall to pieces.

©

Will Gadd, one of the world’s best ice climbers

If you want to go ice climbing in Makkovik, it will be hard to convince a local to take you out to an iceberg by boat, because they will think you’re crazy when you say what you’re planning to do. They know icebergs roll over, which is dangerous for anyone nearby. When I was on the iceberg, every strike of the ice pick went right to the tips of my toes. I thought the area I was hanging onto would break off and take me with it. And that happened when I was back in the boat. Exactly where I’d been climbing, a chunk broke off and fell into the water. A great experience, but I wouldn’t do it again.

every strike of the ice pick was piercing. the ice really screamed
Will Gadd
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07 2014 THE RED BULLETIN

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