Red Bull X-Alps 2019 route

“How is the training going?”

Usually it’s an innocent question, so I just ignore it. Or say that I’ve been reading books.

I’ve been chipping away at a to do list for the last six months or so while working in Sydney, the hardest thing has been to organise insurance. Please, can no one make a claim, insurers that cover paragliding are an endangered species – I only found one (as an Australian resident). More details on our preparation and gear here.

Of course I am also very excited about the event, so I put together old photos from previous visits to the Alps, associated with each turn point.

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Spring in New Zealand

Near Wye creek, 5 Nov 2018

I’ve had a pretty good run but I have to return to work slightly earlier than I would have liked, so there’s been a squeeze on the New Zealand trip to earlier than normal. As opposed to last year, this time there is plenty of snow in the high country. The weather has been wild too, with a full two weeks waiting to take the wing out of the bag (well, including some time in the North Island as well). In the last several days I’ve had some good flying though and I’ve had time to think about a few things.

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USA road trip

I spent two and a half months in the USA, working my way from the Pacific Northwest through to the Rockies, down to Colorado, Utah, and finally out through California. There was some great flights but overall there was a lot of smoke and weather issues. I always saw this as more of an adventure though, if I wanted more reliable flying I would have gone to Europe. The wing was an occasional bonus but more than anything it was meeting interesting people and catching up with friends while having a hitchhiking road trip through the American west.

In Wyoming, 14 Sep 2018

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Vol biv hitch in Canada

I arrived in Vancouver on 6 July 2018. The short summer season is wedged between showers and smoke, and my flight from Taipei arcing through the Arctic had no views whatsoever, just blinding white cloud. I had an open itinerary in Canada and intended to see as much of the mountains in southern British Colombia and the western parts of Alberta as I could, expecting to cross into the USA after a month or so and follow the sun south. I had a few friends scattered around that I planned to visit but mostly my modus operandi was hike, fly, camp, and if by the road, hitchhike. I flew with everything with me – warm clothes, plenty of food, tent, sleeping bag and mat – and my backpack being more durable and bulky was hung in a bag off the back of my harness while flying.

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Paragliding adventures in China

My brother Ben suggested years ago that I should come and fly in China. One of the largest countries with an ancient culture and a wealth of natural resources, including its fair share of big mountains. Like the petty bureaucracy in India, I suspected that it would only be a matter of time until I got hassled by the authorities, and coupled with the difficulties of exploring a new area, finding suitable take offs, etc, I imagined that I’d probably only have a few flights here and there – but the potential rewards were still easily enough to justify bringing along my wing.

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