Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2016/01/14

Ted X Vail

 

To be one piece of the Ted X Vail seminar was an incredible honor. Never have I felt so much enthusiasm to be associated with such great people. It was quite exciting to be part of such a group. I am glad that I was able to bring an idea like finding balance thru appreciation to the table, but I have to say that the real pleasure was found in connecting with a group of some of the most supportive, innovative, and interesting people I have ever meet. It was a challenge to step into this group. To take a risk and travel outside my comfort zone with an open ear and vulnerable heart was a reward I’ll forever cherish. When I arrived, the Ted X Vail team embraced me with open arms and eyes of understanding welcomed me. I am very grateful for all of your worm eyes and open hearts. Thank you.

 

Public speaking is something I haven’t done since I was a child. I remember some time around high school performance art and acting became uncool. I would say that nothing really changed in the past fifteen years. It feels very good to return to that childhood state of excited playful wonder. I’m very excited to keep the ball rolling and take advantage of any and every opportunity to share with the world that comes along. I’ve been searching for the link that would allow me to share this passion of flying and contribute to the greater good. I think after searching my entire twenties, I may have finally stumbled upon something! The psyche is high!

Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2015/07/03

World Wing Suit Qualifications and Questing Onward

Hello my friends, Hope this message finds you excited about the day. I am very excited today. Last week we finished up an amazing Extreme Week here in Voss, Norway. It was a wild week of sports action. Picture a super colorful sports festival with people from all over the world gathered for the purpose of playing in the mountains. It’s quite an amazing event! “The One and only unique Ekstrem Sports Veko!”

(http://ekstremsportveko.com/)

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The qualification for the World Wing Suit League (http://worldwingsuitleague.com/) was an incredible success. We were a bit worried about the conditions of the mountain before the event started, because of the unusually large amount of snow that fell this winter in Voss. For me especially, I was struggling with the possibility of survivable mountain flying. We needed to go visit the site and see if it was actually possible to bring all the competitors to the cliffs of Gudvangon. We scouted out the area by air dropping world famous wing suit pilot Espn Fadnes just above the mountain and were able to come up with an overview of how much snow we were dealing with and what level of avalanche danger we were looking at. From what we could tell it looked possible, but we needed a team to go explore and truly find out what was up there. Espn (winner of the first ever FAI Wingsuit Flying World Cup), Nils (5 time freestyle free fly world championship winner and ski patroler), Sigurd Ielde (Tindeveilder international guide) and I decided to go check out the summit and see what was up there. We arrived at a 45-degree snow slope that went right to the edge of the mountain. We concluded that there was work to be done. In order to make the competition happen we would need to spend some time clearing the edge of snow, rig a safety line, in order to provide a nice place to safely approach the edge, as well discover a safe place to land the helicopter. We spent the next few hours digging and planning in order to come up with a strict plan that would provide a platform for a smooth competition.

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The course was set and it was time to go down for the day. I had spent the past month and a half really trying to determine exactly why it is that I have chosen this quest for human flight. It comes down to basically that I love it. For a month my soul had been tortured. My heart was totally broken. I had a few deep conversations with my parents about why we are doing this and in the end I’ve concluded it’s a balance act. You have to do what you love, because if you don’t do what you love you’re wasting the ultimate gift of life. Living your dreams in this life is very important. Its what drives us and pushes us to move forward. It keeps our minds happy and makes our heart beat. At the same time if you overstep those adventurous boundaries and push beyond your limits you risk loosing everything and finishing the dream all together. It’s a fine balancing act of assessing risk, holding back when the risk is too much and moving forward when you know the moment feels right. At the end of the day the moment felt right to fly. I jumped from the wall flew straight out and pulled high. My perspective has changed quite a bit. My goals in this pursuit have become clearer. More then ever before the definition of Paralpinism has become a clear vision in my mind, like looking thru the still water of the pure Norwegian fjords. The basic guidelines of flying fast, high, and when the balance feels pure.

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Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2015/05/25

Life and Death Inevitablity

Two of my best friends died last week in Yosemite, flying wing suits. These guys were true pioneers and some of the best people I have had the pleasure to know. I am incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to fly and climb with them.

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For the last birthday of Grahams life we got to climb El Cap in a day together. He had never climbed El Cap and I’ll never forget his smile. He was deeply challenged by the experience. As an extremely experienced wing suit mountain flyer and one of the best in the world, this new element of moving fast over splitter crack terrain was a gift unlike anything he could have imagined for his birthday. He was so psyched, but totally scared! After 10 hours of full on short fixing and speed climbing we arrived on top of El Capitan. Not bad for a first run. I will forever remember the smiles we shared on the top. Pure Joy! We were supreme that day. We were wild native flying monkeys of Yosemite in our natural habitats.

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Dean took me to one of his special jumps just before I left for Europe. It’s a flight that I dreamed of flying for many years and one that’s only been done by hand full of wing suit pilots. Before the jump you arrive at a very special rock ledge that sits perfectly amongst the cliff walls with a beautiful view of the spectacular Yosemite Mountains. Those moments siting in the “hot tub” will forever be ingrained in my mind. I honestly didn’t realize that these moments would be the last ones we would share. For me, it felt more like the beginning of a dear friendship, not the end. We got along so well on this hike and the previous month working on his house and shredding missions after mission. Just like everything in life you never realize what you have at the time. Its only in retrospect that you come to truly appreciate the fleeting moments that you shared with your loved ones. To me, Dean was the most sacred of wizards. The last e-mail I sent him was to let him know that I had watched the hobbit on the plane ride over and his name was not the “Dark Wizard,” as many had come to call him, but to me he was “Radagast the Brown.” Radagast was the tender of beasts that was mostly concerned with the well being of the plants and animals of the forest and there for was not concerned with the war for the ring. This is who Dean was. A protector of one of the most beautiful place in the world, Yosemite National Park.

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The lessons I learned from these special people are priceless. I’m honored to have been a part of there adventure. They will forever remain in my mind and I will never forget the reverence they have bestowed upon me.

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So, how to move forward? To be honest it’s a hard question to answer. These people were some of the key components and sources of my inspiration and what I considered the best guides for success in this perilous quest for human flight. Dean was one of three people on a list of individuals that inspired me the most. Now I’m not totally sure how to proceed. I know I will never stop flying. When something is so much a part of you it’s impossible to stop. It’s my passion. I’ve felt like this many times. With alpine climbing, the second season I was in Patagonia, I went thru a near death experience were my partner and I were simul-rappeling and our anchor failed. We got lucky. When I returned I was confronted with the question “Do you quite something you love because it could kill you?” For me, of course you do not. This is the thing that gives you heart and what is a life living without heart? You learn from your experiences and you move forward with caution and thanks that your friends taught you something. This is the best thing I can think to do. Originally I started this path with the intention to climb big mountains and use the wing as a means of decent. I have come to know this activity as Paralpinism. This accident has reinforced my original intention and re-established my connection with these roots. We were originally meant to be Paralpinists, climbers that jumped. We ended up being BASE Jumpers that climbed. Up until the last day of my friends lives we were working on developing plans for projects in the high mountains. In Graham and Deans honor I will fulfill these commitment’s to climb high peaks and spread the ashes of my loved ones. They would have expected me to do this and I of them. It was an unspoken pact. This is how the flying monkeys live, with grace, honor and commitment. I am extremely grateful for the redefinition that my friends have given me. It is a final gift that could only be given from there hearts. Flying monkey love forever. Huooooo!

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Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2015/04/26

The Gift of Capturing Joy

I knew Niccolo was going to need an outside videographer for the tv show series Liftoff and I couldn’t miss the smile a psych that would come along with seeing one of my best friends do his first ever wing suit BASE jump. I had to be there to make sure everything went well. I had been training all winter at my home in Yosemite and I felt super confidant I was going to be more then capable of getting some of the worlds best images. I was prepared to tackle the project full on. Wing suit videography is the worlds most dangerous pursuit and can only be done by a select few us who have paid our dues and put in the time. Many have died chasing this dream of making your friends stars. I had some uneasy feelings, but I knew I was working with some of the best and psyched people out there. Proximity I flew into Switzerland totally jetlagged from a wicked overnight flight and luckily arrived in some marginal weather. I took a couple of days to shake the trip of time travel and my first project was High Ultimate. High Ultimate is an awesome jump, which can be tracked and allowed for us to tone some skills. After shooting for a few days it was off to Mount Brento to do Niccolo’s first wing suit BASE. Working with a full production crew to capture Niccolo’s first jump was intense. We had to spend a lot of time organizing, planning, and of course adjusting those plans to what we could actually pull off. I was super excited to work with the Liftoff crew. It was my gift to Niccolo to capture his progression and get the shot of his first wing suit BASE jump in 4K. I used three different cameras top mounted on my helmet. Nicollo's First Jump Everything went to plan. We lined up on the exit, counted to three, and “boom” we were of the edge and into flight. I nailed it! Every shot was spot on and Niccolo looked like a star. All that hard work had paid off when we landed and I could hear him scream a howl of full psych. His joy upon landing was fantastic. It felt really nice to share these tears of joy and moment of pure bliss with my homeboy. The gift of capturing joy like this and spreading it to the world is what I live for. I am super thankful to live this life of human flight.  

Here Dominik follows the boys off on Nicollo's fourth wing suit BASE jump.

Here Dominik follows the boys off on Nicollo’s fourth wing suit BASE jump.

Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2014/08/13

Lodi High

I spent 4 years on my knee's packing for skydivers in this hanger. Blessed......

I spent years on my knee’s packing for skydivers in this hanger. Blessed……

Life next to highway 99 is anything but glamorous. The desolate, vacant and scorched parking lot of “The Parachute Center” is a hard place to maintain. Huffing exhaust, sleeping in the dirt, and waisting away in the sun is the definition of suffering. Its quite a drastic step up compared to the third world though. Often times I will find myself inducing living situations in my life that are privation in nature. I can’t understand why some have to live so poorly while others have unlimited opportunity. Seems a bit unbalanced. “The key to life is happiness.” Even though we are living the homeless life of “trailer trash,” sucking from the bottom like catfish, we are still happy. The moments that we get to share together in the sky are fully worth the time spent groveling in the heat next to the highway. The Parachute Center is were the worlds most talented skydivers crawl from the primordial muck of society and blossom into world class pilots. Its a long road, but it has been worth it.

Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2013/10/07

Wampler’s Ascent

This unbelievable story touches my heart every time I watch it. Please share this incredible source of inspiration.

http://www.wamplersascent.com/

Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2013/09/15

Europe Adventure

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It all started with a message from the Hopper’s saying they had bought there tickets and were headed to Switzerland on the 26th. I jumped on board and bought my ticket for the next day. I had been working rope access all winter long. The full time shut down schedule, twelve hour days seven days a week and I was fearing for the mountains. Being locked inside the refinery was poisoning my soul and I feel the drive for adventure building inside me. I needed fresh air and wind against my face. I thirsted for the feeling of living. To feel the elements. I had grown quite comfortable in refinery. The lifestyle had made me soft. I burned for the uncertainty of day to day life. For the feeling of waking up in the morning with the unknown lingering in my mind. I needed to live now!

I rolled off the train in Lauterbrunnen with my mouth wide open. I walked toward the upper end of the valley limping with jet lag, completely blown away by the massive vertical uplift that made up the Lauterbrunnen Valley. I was carrying a black duffel bag that resembled the type of bag the officials would use to carry out diciest personnel from the back country (a body bag). It was a good reminder that the path I was walking on was nothing less then serious, and many of my friends that had walked this road had ended up nestled in these black bags. I spent the next few weeks jumping with the flying bro’s, visiting several different exit points in the valley training my exit and having a blast. The Lauterburnan Valley is a jumper’s paradise. Easy access to some of the most amazing cliffs in the world make it the perfect place to party in the sky!
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After an excellent session in Switzerland it was off to Norway. The land of big walls. My plan was to visit Kjerag were I was going to work as an instructor and ground crew for the BASE Klubb in Lysebotn. This was an excellent experience. My brother Rio was going to meet me there. I was super excited to share some jumps with him. He is a great person to jump with. Five years ago we started skydiving together, and through this journey we have come super close. Rio was super excited to get after it. He was super eager, which in this case was good because he was eager to jump exit six the safest jump on Kjerag. He charged at the big wall with repeated attacks leaping off of the thing like there was no tomorrow. The Heliboogie went super smooth. Only one minor injury and one malfunction that the pilot was able to clear and land safely in the water.

Instructing BASE is an extremely wearing job. For me its so difficult because I take on responsibility for my students. In Kjerag the students show up, we have quick class room session and then they jump out of the pendulator. Once they have showed competency in these tasks its a walk to the edge. For me being a BASE guide was killing BASE jumping for me. It turned it BASE jumping into a job and I started loosing motivation. I didn’t want this to happen, so I decided it was time to explore the mountains on my own. jumped into a car with the BASE bro’s and it was North to Andalsnes on a quest to become a Para-alpinist.

In Andalsnes Rio and I lived in tents cooking from a stove and living in the nature everyday. It was a simple existence. Wake up, make some food, start hiking, fly from a cliff, land and pack, eat and repeat. This experience was one of the greatest months of my life. It was amazing to live the gypsy life. I was really happy and content…… and tired. The weather this season was unbelievably good. We got super lucky. Everyday was jumpable, so we continued to jump two big walls a day for the length of our stay. I love hiking, climbing, and flying. I feel like it makes me a better person and on the last day in Andalsnes I remember thinking, “Wow what a lucky person I am to be able to live this life. I honestly felt like the months I got to live in Norway made me a better person, and I felt like I was being the shining light i wanted to see in the world. My experience there had allowed me to grow into a Para-Alpinist.

In the last few weeks of the trip I got to work on an extremely important project. I was lucky enough to be part of a production that is a documentary/love story about the history of BASE jumping, and Carl and Jean Banish, the founder’s of repeatable cliff jumping. It was a great experience! My hope is that this project will bring a little bit of public awareness to our activity and open up new opportunities for the expansion of human flight in the United States.

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Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2013/09/01

I Am a “Para-alpinist”

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Some days I agree with some outsiders that say BASE jumpers are suicidal tyrants that roam around like gypse’s destroying and abusing everyone and everything. They are lazy opportunist, exploiting situations in order to benefit themselves. Acting selfishly without any regard for others, terrorizing and destroying nature just to amuse themselves. And in the end they are so insecure and self-conscious that the only way they can feel good about themselves is to do dangerous shit and try to get away with it. They reduce the margins to such a small percentage that they die in front of everyone and then we all cry and feel like shit, because we love our stupid friends that do stupid stuff! I’m tired…

I prefer to be a Para-alpinist. A Para-alpinist use’s a parachute as a means of making a controlled descent. Para-alpinist’s use technology to safely navigate from a high point on a mountain to lower ground. This is a truly amazing concept! If the proper precautions are taken, this allows one to quickly and safely get down from a hike or climb. The proper use of a parachute can enable a safe, low impact decent.

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To make a safe decent there are three things that BASE Jumpers do that a Para-alpinist does not. The first is fly close to objects (Proximity Flying). There is nothing safe about buzzing the ground at high speeds. The second is jumping from locations that don’t allow one to gather distance from the fixed object which is being jumped (Short Rock Drops/ Low Object Jumping). The last is the use of a big wing suit. Big wing suits are reserved for those who have lots of experience, which there are very few in the world. Jumping into a wing suit you don’t have the skill set for is extremely dangerous.

In writing this I realize that I have actually been very hypocritical in my learning curve. This season I started jumping with my brother, which made me become extra cautious. I found that he was actually more conservative then me. 🙂 Recently we had a conversation that made me decide to create these guidelines. It’s not cool to be dangerous!

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The biggest thing I have learned this year is patience. Things take time. Your not going to be instantly professional. We don’t live in the Matrix. Skills take time and hard work to develop. A lifetime of practice dedicated to one thing will make you proficient. It takes sacrifice. If you want to get good at Para-alpinism, a good friend of mine told me, “quite your job and jump.” Dedicate everything you have to jumping and then you will become proficient over time. This means hiking to safe practice jumps allot…Everyday! “Jump allot, but stay humble.”

Please join me in changing the way we view our passion. Stop encouraging the people we love to be dangerous. Become a Para-alpinist. Be honest with yourself, love yourself, and stay true to what really maters. For me it is all about having fun in the mountains with the people I love.

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Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2013/08/19

Gypsy Life

 

Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2013/08/19

Love for the Mountains

So I started this summer with the opportunity to be part of a wonderful organization, The Stavanger BASE Klubb. It was a great Heliboogie! Really happy to be a part of it. Everything was super successful. I felt super proud to be part of a team that was extremely effective at organizing the worlds biggest cliff jumping event. Way to go team! I highly suggest that everyone come to this event next year. Its a great way to spend a vacation.

 

http://BASEkjerag.com/rogaland/stavanger/svg_base.nsf/id/B95AF1360FE002C3C1256E130013D286?OpenDocument

 

After Kjerag it was off to the northern lands, Andalsnes and the Romsdalen valley. Rio was super keen to stay current and the weather was amazing. We were able t get off some great jumps maintaining currency and staying fit. The Jumps here are all very big. You hike most from the bottom to the top earning every bit of altitude on the jump. Its a great place. Full of very friendly people and a group of local jumpers that are extremely experienced and knowledgable. Come here expecting to hike a lot. Show up in shape and ready to go and you will be rewarded with some of the best flights of your life.

 

http://www.google.com/search?q=romsdalen&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=osgRUo7GHKWm4gT6-4GQBQ&sqi=2&ved=0CC4QsAQ&biw=1240&bih=648#bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&fp=1375a46de19f9a49&q=Romsdalen%2C+Norway&rls=en&sa=1&tbm=isch

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