Happy New Year!

What an amazing year 2013 has been and 2014 is set to be another incredible one!

Looking back over the past 12 months it’s been quite a year…

Things kicked off in January with Wings of Kilimanjaro, where I was proud to be part of the largest group ever to climb to the summit of the mountain and in the process raise over half a million dollars for three charities making a difference on the ground in Tanzania; The One Foundation, Plant with Purpose and WorldServe International.

I was only back in the UK for a few weeks before beginning The Go Trek with Dave Cornthwaite – a 3074mile, two month journey around Europe by ElliptiGo.  Not only did I get into the best shape physically that I’ve ever been in, I was delighted to get to know the inspirational team at Coppafeel – the fab boob charity we raised over £3000 for – and also to meet so many generous, kind and lovely people along the way.

On my return to the UK I enjoyed being back on two wheels, but this time with an engine and I had a blast taking my BMW F800GS out to the Aosta Valley in Italy where I climbed Monte Rosa.

Before returning back to the UK I rode to Aix Les Bains in France where I took part in the ElliptiGo European Championships.  A great event and brilliant to get to know more of the ElliptiGo community.

In September I was excited to meet up with Ranulph Finnes, Kenton Cool and the Powertraveller Team at The Royal Geographical Society where we were working on a project for the new Powertravller product (due to be released in early 2014).

October and November saw the confirmation of a plan that has been bubbling away in the back ground for a while now.  I took a trip to the States to get to work on pre production and training for a new adventure travel series that I will be filming in 2014 with an amazing team!  The biggest surprise of that trip was learning to BASEJump!!

The year concluded with a trip to South Africa, I was in the sunshine for Christmas and while I was there I took the opportunity to climb Table Mountain.

Even in this quick round up of the year its easy to see that I’ve been able to do some wonderful things in incredible places and raise money for very good causes.

I’m so lucky to have the support of my friends and family, I’ve met some great people in 2013 and I’m proud to work with the teams and companies that I do; PowertravellerRab, BMW, GoPro, Salomon, Suunto, Aosta Valley, Peli & Zaini.

It’s the people in my life and the people who I meet that make all the difference.  Thank you all for your support, encouragement and love.

I hope that 2014 is a wonderful year for everyone …. and don’t forget if you’re knickers are right, then everything goes right!

See you in 2014, Squash! xx

 

BASE Jumping

I arrived in Idaho and got straight down to business!

I’m here for training and pre production work for my ‘next project’ – which I can now reveal is going to be a television series!  As you can imagine I’m very, very excited… and throwing myself (literally!) into all the work that needs to be done.

The team told me that BASE jump training was going ahead with RedBull athlete Miles Daisher.

“Miles has completed more known base jumps then anyone on the planet- well over 2,700.  In 2005, he set a base jumping record by launching 57 times in a single day, climbing a total of nearly 29,000 vertical feet to do so.  Logged over 3,100 skydives.  Creator of two new sports “skyaking” (aerobatic skydiving while seated in a kayak, for high- performance landing on water) and “Rope- swing base jumping” (launching a freewheeling base jump by swinging of a building or bridge).”

If I was going to learn to BASE jump what better coach could I wish for than Miles!

Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho
Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho

Heading to Twin Falls, I was expecting that the day would be spent talking about BASE jumping, that we’d be doing some theory, looking at kit and seeing the jump site.

It was always my understanding that to BASE jump it was necessary to have a lot of skydives under your belt first. Apparently this isn’t the case.  People can actually learn to BASE jump with no other flying experience but of course it’s far better (and safer) to have the experience of skydiving or paragliding.  Miles said that as I was a paraglider it was great start.

I then learnt that the plan was to spend the morning as I had thought, talking about BASE jumping, doing some theory, looking at kit and seeing the jump site and then the plan for the afternoon….. was to actually go BASE jumping!

Miles is a fireball of energy and his knowledge, expertise and full on approach were brilliant.

We spent time packing up the kit and while Miles was doing that he was explaining how it all works, we talked about the process of learning to BASE jump.  To begin I would do a static line jump – that meant Miles would hold the pilot chute (which is the small parachute that drags open the main chute) so initially the only concern would be jumping. After two seconds of free fall the parachute would open and I would then fly down and land.  Simple!

As we headed out to Perrine Bridge I was getting rather nervous.  Luckily there wasn’t a lot of time to focus on my nerves, Miles worked with us on muscle memory training and talked us through the whole process.  We scouted the landing zone and worked out a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C and a Plan Z!

Heading out along the bridge
Heading out along the bridge

Walking out along the bridge was like an out of body experience.  I was scared but it was essential to get a hold of myself and focus on what I was about to do.  It was like the time I fell off Mont Blanc – I was falling but I needed to be calm and sort myself out.  Which is exactly what I did.

I was going first!  Climbing over the railing was probably the worst part, I held on tight and placed my feet.  Once in position – face forward, leaning out – I looked ahead.  The point Miles gave us to look at was a mound of earth that was Evel Knievel’s jump ramp where in 1974 he’d famously attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon on a rocket cycle!

Miles said I was good to go…  I went through my final checks.

“Horizon”

“OK”

“SEE YA” …. and with that flung myself off the bridge!

As experiences go, it was up there with the biggest sensory overload I think I’ve ever had.

The focus, concentration, fear, thrill, physical sensations and relief when you touch down safely are a lot to have going on.

Meeting Miles was brilliant – he’s a unique person and having him as my coach was a privilege.

With Miles and Jonas
With Miles and Jonas

As we drove away from the bridge that evening all I could think was, “Mum is going to be so cross with me”….

Happy!
Happy!

 

This is a short Punkt video clip of one of my first static line jumps…