Extreme Travel

Destination Adventure

Words: Nick Amies
Photo: WSL/Hallman  

Extreme athletes spend their lives searching out the next great challenge. Here, eight next-level pros relive epic feats at the world’s most extreme locations
Ian Walsh
Ian Walsh

Surfer, USA
@ian.walsh

HEAVY WEATHER
Near Anchorage, Alaska

“What a unique experience this was. We were at the mouth of this massive glacier; the set-ups were cool, with offshore winds and drastic scenery. I was pumping down the line, staring at jagged mountains and snow. There was less buoyancy in the water because of the glacial run-off, and my board felt thinner. The water was absolutely freezing and I was wearing so much neoprene that it felt like surfing in a suit of armour!”

What’s next?

“The one place in the world that I’d want to surf before I die has probably not even been discovered yet. There’s no way that every place has been found. I may hear a rumour from a fisherman or see something from a plane that leads me to this place one day. But I don’t know where it is… yet.”

Alaska

Ian Walsh: “This was one of the most unexpected and unique trips I’ve ever had”

© Scott Dickerson, Zak Noyle/Red Bull Content Pool

Gary Hunt
Gary Hunt

Cliff diving champion, GBR
@garycliffdiver

JUNGLE GYM
Yucatán, Mexico

“This is the most impressive place I’ve ever dived. I’d seen pictures of this cenote on bucket-list destinations. It’s in the middle of nowhere, next to Mayan ruins. This was the first time I’d dived into such a closed environment – it was like diving into a jungle from 27m up. It’s very dark down there, so the hardest thing is adjusting to the light. You take off in bright sun, then halfway down you’re blinded! And, diving into a small dark pool, your awareness of the water level isn’t good. You couldn’t judge it until the last second. It was daunting and magnificent.”

What’s next?

“My next project is to create the hardest dive in the world. I’ve been practising a running take-off, which no other cliff diver is doing. I’m going to try a forward three somersaults with four-and-a-half twists from 28m in Texas at the first competition of the 2016 Red Bull Cliff Diving season.”

Mexique

Gary Hunt: “It was like diving straight into a jungle” 

© Dean Treml/Red Bull Cliff Diving, Tomislav Moze/Red Bull Content Pool

Ryan Robinson
Ryan Robinson

Highliner, USA
@handsomerobinson

ON BALANCE
The Chasm, Tasmania

“Every highline is a pretty incomparable experience, but the Chasm was next level. It’s direct – 300m straight down to the crashing waves below. There’s the deafening noise from the ocean echoing up the dense rock, seals on the island screaming eerily, gusts of wind out of nowhere that would hit without warning… It was just mindblowing. The buzz was the most intense I’ve ever experienced. There was just so much space between me and the water below. I don’t think that there’s been a more exposed line; a more intense, full-on, no-comforts location. There’s nothing to save you at the Chasm.”

What’s next?

“Number one is the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China. I just think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and its unique rock columns were made to be strung up! It would be a huge challenge. You’d have to scale each column first, then figure out how to get the line across.”

Chasm Creek, Tasmanie

Ryan Robinson: “This is a direct drop, straight down – there’s no comfort at the Chasm”

© KRYSTLE WRIGHT

Pierre Frolla
Pierre Frolla

Champion freediver, FRA
pierrefrolla.com

DANGER ZONE
Umkomaas, South Africa

“I wanted to make the journey to face the animals that had always terrorised me: tiger sharks and great whites. It wasn’t to show courage, but to honour these endangered species. Of course, a place full of predators is always dangerous. It’s a place where prey and predators merge, and where you must constantly defend your position. You have to demonstrate commitment and tenacity. The sea itself was also a danger. It was important to be very switched on while not trying to fight the elements.”

What’s next?

“I like to travel to the wildest places the world has to offer, so I’d love to dive off the extreme south-east of Cuba. There are still wild corners there with species that have yet to experience man.”

Umkomaas, South Africa

Pierre Frolla: “Your senses must be as sharp as possible. You’re potential prey in the kingdom of the predator“

© Franck Seguin, Francine Kreiss

Will Gadd
Will Gadd

Ice climber, CAN
@gilwad

ICE BREAKER
Eidfjord, Norway

“Climbing here is just another level from anywhere else I’ve been in the world. The routes around Eidfjord are bigger and harder than any others on Earth. The huge vertical combined with very steep walls makes it unique. It’s certainly the hardest pure waterfall ice I’ve ever done – a blue streak raging across black rock toward the sky. I had dreams for months about climbing it. I had to climb icicles with my hands to get up it; I’ve never had to do anything like that before or since.”

What’s next?

“There’s so much potential for ice climbing. I need to visit China – there are some really interesting new places there to explore. We just got back from Japan, and there’s endless ice there that no one has ever heard of. And I just heard that some years there’s ice in South Africa… Really, there are endless places to explore.”

Eidfjord, Norway

Will Gadd: “You need a little luck and a lot of respect to survive here”

© Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool 

Szymon Godziek
Szymon Godziek

Mountain biker, POL
@symongodziek

FIT TO DROP
Virgin, Utah

“Riding at Red Bull Rampage in Utah is different to any other contest. The main thing is that you have to build your line, and that’s not easy, because you have endless possibilities. Which is why Red Bull Rampage is so gnarly. It’s exhausting and it’s dangerous, too. When you’re on the very top of the ridge, you can’t crash – if you fall, you’re done. But when you survive that and head down from the ridge to the jumps, the buzz is absolutely incredible. I’ve jumped the biggest drops in my life in Utah.”

What’s next?

“The next Mecca for bike riding is Queenstown in New Zealand, so that would be the spot for me. There’s not just one place there but so many that I’d be spoilt for choice, and that’s awesome. There’s the best dirt-jumping park, sick freeride spots, and a really cool bike park, too.”

Virgin, Utah

Szymon Godziek: “If you even make it to the middle of this course, you’re stoked as hell!”

© Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Rafa Ortiz
Rafa Ortiz

Extreme kayaker, MEX
@rafaortizkayak

RUSH HOUR
Tlapacoyan, Mexico

“The Río Alseseca is the perfect playground for waterfall descents. But it’s dangerous, which is probably why it had never been done before I got there! Every now and then I’d think, ‘Why are you doing this? Is it a bad idea?’ The waterfall isn’t just massive, it’s complicated. The edge is far from smooth, meaning you could potentially fall at a bad angle – I have the scar to prove it.”

What’s next?

“I seek out the biggest tests on the planet, and the rivers in Tibet are some of the best; big water, big waves, big currents. The river descents have to be completed over many days, so you have to carry all your supplies in your boat. It would be a great challenge.”

Tlapacoyan, Mexico

Rafa Ortiz: “My happiest moment was when i floated away having conquered this beast”

© Lucas Gilman/Red Bull Content Pool, Marcos Ferro/Red Bull Content Pool

Mich Kemeter
Mich Kemeter

Solo BASE climber, AUT
michael-kemeter.com

HIGH LIFE
Verdon Gorge, France

“The colour of the river beneath your feet, the depth that sucks you down, and the fight you have against gravity with every move on this grey-blue rock… I love this place. It’s slightly overhanging, with a vertical drop of 180m, and if you do one move without perfection, you just fall off. The fear factor is so important in solo BASE climbing; it’s pushed me over a lot of mental hurdles. I don’t like danger. I need to feel confident in every aspect of a climb. If I don’t, I’m just not going to do it.”

What’s next?

“There are so many amazing places on this earth to climb. If I imagine the one I would like to attempt before I die, it’s the one I’ve never been to, the one I have never even heard of, the one that at this point only exists in my mind.”

Verdon Gorge, France

Mich Kemeter: “This place is so special – it feels like home. For me, it’s one big playground”

© ALEX BUISSE, PICTUREDESK.COM

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05 2016 The Red Bulletin

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