Well Loz and I are both well and truly back into the civilised world now and are still processing the enormity of what we were able to achieve in Russia. We went over with the exceedingly high goals of being able to summit an active volcano, get into an active volcano, fly from said volcano and see a bunch of Grizzly bears up close and personal in the wild. With weather and the uncertainty of our environs sure to be against us, we went into the adventure with high hopes but realistically low expectations.
Well the following is what eventuated in short. We summited numerous active volcanoes, got inside them, spent several weeks in some of the most amazing wilderness I have ever experienced, were caught in numerous blizzards, managed to fly from the summits of these volcanoes and even managed to melt our wings after our last flight! A full trip report will be published in due course, but for now, check this photo montage out!
According to Google Translate the above title means 'one week to go'. Who knows what it actually says as I've been a little busy with life to brush up on my Russian... In any case, HOLY CRAP!!!! ONE WEEK til I fly out for Russia.
This is really happening and Loz and I could not be more excited for it. This last week is mostly organising all of our last minute supplies and spending hours on hold to Garmin to make sure our tracking devices are working - spoiler alert - they aren't...yet.
There's also a bunch of other fun challenges that face us before we even get there. Turns out the place we're going to is a little remote to say the least. To the point that I'm flying a grand total of 96 hours to get there and back with 6 different airlines, one of which seems to not actually have a website to be able to tell/confirm that I even have a valid ticket. Irrespective I WILL be in a Grizzly Bear, active volcano adventure paradise in just over a week.
For those of you who are just catching up and finding yourselves a little confused as to what is going on. The synopsis is this. 2 Aussie dudes travelling to a super remote region in Russia, surrounded by the largest Grizzly Bears in the world and we plan to hike and mountaineer our way up a bunch of active volcanoes and then fly very small paragliders off them. ANNNNNDDDD Go!
The team would like to extend a VERY warm welcome to some amazing companies that have offered to help support this expedition - without them, it would be so much more difficult and we definitely wouldn't look as cool as we do whilst being rad!
Tatonka have come on board and are supporting us by supplying us with XXL dry duffle bags and 35L Vert dry day packs. The duffle bags come in handy for when we are travelling long distances to help keep our precious wings not only safe from Russian baggage handlers but also dry from the elements whilst at base camp. The Vert day packs will enable us to carry all of our survival gear whilst we are summiting the volcanoes and also keep it dry at the same time. They are large enough to carry a small shelter, sleeping bag, thermarest, food and water for 24 hours, but small enough that we can still carry while flying back down the mountain.
Hydrapak have supplied the team with a series of 3L Full Force water bladders. Little did we know, but there is a reason why they are called Full Force... There is an attachment near the mouthpiece that pressurises the water stream significantly. I can only see this ending in a waterfight disaster! Ah the ways we will no doubt entertain ourselves!
And lastly Lush Eyewear have taken on the hardest task of all - to attempt to add some style to our ranks with some super rad sunnies! Super stoked to be supporting the Aussie brand. These 80's styled wrap around glasses will do well to keep the elements out, whether it be snow, sleet, rain or UV, and keep the party going on!
Just over a month and a half to go and things are certainly heating up. Every morning it seems that my phone is going off at the moment with weather alerts for potential flyable conditions. So that has been my life, hike - fly - repeat. The nice things about photos like these is that they tend to dull the memory of waiting for over 3 hours on a cliff edge for the winds to 'turn on' as the case has been lately. At least it has been coming on and there have been some spectacular flights in the meantime.
The road to Russia is on!
After a couple days and hours upon hours of waiting on a volcanic plug for the winds to be just right, we finally managed a launch! As far as is known, this mountain has never been flown before.
The launch area was incredibly small with only 3 knots of wind at best to be able to fly off - definitely technical and definitely marginal. But we made it, so check it out here.
These last few months have been a next level of crazy busy for the team and I. We have taken delivery of our Ozone Firefly wings and are getting incredibly excited for what is ahead of us. We have been extensively testing the wings and it turns it that not only are the wings tree proof, but so are we!
The countdown is truly getting serious now with less than three months to go! Exciting days ahead indeed.
Recently I was given the privilege of spreading my wings and flying off an absolutely beautiful mountain, 1800ft elevation drop, 40 minute hike up and 2:30 flight down. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon... and views for days!!!
Though i have been lax online, it does not mean that i have been idle. New wings have arrived for Russia, volcanoes explored and I am on a brief break on expedition in Tanzania to write this. In the past few months i have been busy scouting places around the world to best train to fly off active volcanoes and land amongst hungry bears... turns out there is nothing like that except in Russia - where we are going in July 2018. Anyway I am back up a mountain tomorrow and back into civilisation end of the year. Stay tuned for some rad footage of our product testing then!
I was lucky enough recently to perform with the Australian Skydive Display Team and land in Sunshine Coast Stadium. Andrew Pike and I were there to help celebrate 50 years of the Sunshine Coast and we did it in true old school style flying out parachutes linked all the way to the ground! What an amazing experience it was!
Well after a series of late nights allowing the creative brain juices to flow, the beginnings of the next big adventure have begun to hatch. While plans and ideas are still being formulated - it seems at this stage to be a whole new level of radawesome. As a teaser I'll leave you with these key words;
Terrifyingly Active Volcanoes
Big Bloody Bears
Completely unexplored and untouched wilderness
So it's back to the planning board!