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    Dirtbag Diaries: Flying Deep

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    There comes a stage in a great athlete’s career when the pursuit of technical difficulty takes a back seat. It gives way to simplicity, an aesthetic and possibly to an iconic style that leaves an impression on a sport. Will Gadd is one of the most accomplished mountain athletes ever. Most people know him as a climbing legend, but he also holds that stature in the fringe sport of paragliding where he has won competitions and held the single flight distance record for a decade. Last year, Will and renowned pilot Gavin McClurg embarked on a truly incredible trip down the spine of the Canadian Rockies. The goal was to create a continuous line through the air. At night, they landed in the alpine, slept and repeated the process–for 35 days. The trip changed Will’s perspective, not just on the craft, but on how he pursues adventure.

     


    Listen to "Flying Deep" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.

     

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production. Graphic by Walker Cahall.

     

    Imagine

    By Gavin McClurg, photos by Jody MacDonald

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    Sailing around the world isn’t new. Historians recently learned that Chinese merchant ships in the latter 15th century, which were grander, faster, and better equipped than Spanish and Portuguese fleets (Magellan, Columbus, Gama, etc.), used trading routes that vary today only because of the Suez and Panama Canals. These canals eliminate the need to navigate the treacherous Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, respectively.

    Today, we call these routes the “milk run.” When you start at X and sail to Y, there is a very sensible time of year to do it and a very sensible course to take advantage of winds and currents. This is true for all vessels of every size and type. To get away from the milk run takes a lot more effort, skill, patience, fortitude and, yes, imagination – which is, of course, why it’s worth it. It may be true that the oceans of the world have been mapped, but that doesn’t mean they have been properly explored.

    [Above: Finding a barrel at the bottom of the world.]

    Continue reading "Imagine" »

    The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – A Paragliding Journey in the Pioneer Mountains

    By Gavin McClurg

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    I've been really fortunate in the last couple decades to explore many of the farthest corners of the globe – thirteen straight years of sailing, chasing wind and waves on a series of kitesurfing expeditions, which included nearly two full circumnavigations, and the last couple years, paragliding all over the Alps, South America, Central America, Africa and the Himalayas. Just like surfers chasing swell, pilots chase seasons and weather.

    Reggie Crist, a former Olympic alpine skier and friend of mine who lives here in Sun Valley is even making a movie about how athletes are like migratory animals, hopping on planes or jumping in cars chasing what they “need” be it adrenaline, or escape, or just pure fun. Animals, of course, are seeking food and shelter, which is all we really need as well. But for some people this other “need” is as urgent as the next hit is for a junky. Without it we find life marginalized, gray and drab.

    [Above: Gavin McClurg soars. Photo: Jody MacDonald

    Continue reading "The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – A Paragliding Journey in the Pioneer Mountains" »

    Unplugging to Get in Touch - A Kiteboarding Dispatch from the Tuamotus

    by Jason Slezak

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    There is something I love about recording a voicemail greeting that says I will be out of the country, with no cell phone access, for a few weeks. Usually included is the customary, “You can try to reach me by email…” but even that was questionable. This time, I’d be traveling somewhere so remote it’s basically be off the grid. And that “something” I love about the voicemail? It actually has more to do with everything that leads up to the point of making the recording.

    The weeks of pre-planning and packing were over. The hours and hours of watching swell charts on the Internet, hoping to see a solid blob of swell pop up in the proper direction, and the incessant studying of wind graphs and forecast sites to determine what size kites and boards to take had all passed. The stresses of showing up late (as always) for the airline check-in, the roulette wheel of excess baggage fees and the long security lines had faded into faint memories. I sent my last farewell texts to family and friends, and finally, switched my phone and my contact with the everyday world… OFF.

    [Jello-blue lagoon, Ninamu. Photo: Jason Slezak, GoPro]

    Continue reading "Unplugging to Get in Touch - A Kiteboarding Dispatch from the Tuamotus" »

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