Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Best Experience I've Ever Had

The Best Experiece I've Ever Had - Solo Skydiving I wrote this post after leading an experience for Everest on August 26th, 2012. Everst's Dream Series Two weeks ago, I learned about Everest's awesome Dream Series for people "who believe in living life today, not someday." I'd like to think I fall into that category, living by my constantly evolving impossible list, and I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few doers in the last two weeks at different Everest events. My part in the experience started when I met up with Matt Levene, a friend from my days at BU, to rock climb at Planet Granite in San Francisco. While climbing, our conversation turned to skydiving, something he had thought about doing for awhile, but had never gotten around to following through. "Let's go this weekend!" I said. He hesitated, and asked me a few questions about it, but ultimately said, "Alright, let's do it!" Skydiving with Everest The next thing I knew, Matt had found 9 other people from the Everest community, excited about the opportunity to jump out of an airplane and plummet 14,000 feet to the ground at over 120mph! You know it's a great group of go-getters when you can assemble 11 people to go skydiving in less than a week. This was easily the biggest group I've taken to the dropzone and I look forward to being a part of the Everest community now and in the future. I'm already taking at least two jumpers back this weekend to do it again! Skydiving is an amazing experience that is difficult to describe to those who have not experienced it yet. If skydiving is something you've considered, but still are unsure about, I've listed some of the most common questions I get asked about skydiving below. Hopefully my answers encourage you to go out there and turn that bucket list of things that often fall by the wayside, into a lifestyle, influenced by an impossible list of far reaching, achieveable goals. Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane? That's probably the hardest question for me to answer. Skydiving is an experience like none other, and when I tell someone how much fun skydiving is, it is hard to convey in words just what the feeling is like without an experience to compare it. The closest comparison I have found is saying that skydiving is like standing on top of a car driving at over 120mph, but with the ability to move on all axes. It does not feel like falling, and is just a pure adrenaline rush from takeoff to touchdown. When people who ask me this question say there is no way they would ever be able to do it, I tell them about my Mom. She was deathly afraid of going skydiving, so afraid in fact, she thought that if the jump didn't kill her, a heart attack during the jump would. It took six months of persistence and three trips to the dropzone with her, watching me take flight and land safe and sound every time, before I finally convinced her to give it a shot. What happened, you ask? She loved it so much, she jumped TWICE!! ON THE SAME DAY! Okay, but how safe is skydiving really? This is another great question and one I love to answer. A common skydiver idiom is, "You are more likely to die driving to the dropzone than you are skydiving from the plane." Is that really true? Well I did a research paper on skydiving safety in college to find out the fatality rates of skydiving, scuba-diving, and motorcycle riding. You can read the whole report if you don't believe me, but going for a tandem skydive is the safest of them all and you would have to go on over 100 tandem skydives EVERY YEAR, for it to be as dangerous as driving your car on the road in an average year. Something most people don't know is that all skydives are done with two parachutes. The main parachute is re-packed for every jump under very strict packing guidelines. During this process that occurs hundreds of thousands of times a year, wear and tear or a packing mistake can occur. To prevent a potential mishap from being fatal, skydivers can cut-away their main parachute and deploy a back-up parachute. This reserve chute is repacked at least every six months, whether used or not, under even stricter guidlines to keep skydiving as safe as possible. Great. Now you've convinced me that I won't die. What's so great about it anyways? I've been skyidiving 28 times and the 28th jump was just as fun as the first. Of all the extreme sports I've taken part in, ice climbing, bungee jumping, motorcycle driving, white water rafting, and some even more obscure extreme activities, skydiving gives me the biggest rush by a long shot. Given what I've just said, you might think I'm only into skydiving since I'm an adrenaline junkie looking for bigger and better rushes. That may be true, but of the 31 people I've taken tandem skydiving, all 31 have said in one way or another that it was one of the best experiences that they have ever had, if not THE best. Two jumpers have even started down the path of solo skydiving, and hopefully many more will join them in the future. How much does it cost? And where is the best place to jump? "And What should I wear? Pants? Shorts? Sunscreen?" Most skydiving dropzones charge anywhere from $200-$300 for a jump and pictures and/or video are usually extra, between $30-$70. There are dropzones all over the world, not to mention all over the United States, and a simple web search will get you the information for your local area. Beach jumps are usually the most expensive and the most breathtaking, so take that into consideration when you look at dropzones. Trust me, it's worth every penny! For me, of the two countries and six states that I've jumped in, my favorite place to jump is The Parachute Center in Northern California. This is also where I've taken 18 of the 31 tandem jumpers who went with me, including the Everest event last week. Not only is it just $100 for a tandem jump, their efficiency in getting you up in the air is unmatched. All 11 Everest skydivers were up in the air on Sunday less than 30 minutes after signing-up. Jumping anywhere, you can wear whatever is comfortable for the appropriate weather, as long as you wear closed toe, non-sandal/high-heeled shoes. Otherwise, your tandem master will take care of all other preparations and you can focus on having fun!
The Best Experience I've Ever Had - Tandem Skydiving Collage - Blue skies Ethan

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Impossible List: Inspired by Joel Runyon

I've always been one for making lists and recording the things I do. It does a couple things for me, such as keeping me focused on my goals and also letting me look back when I'm working really hard on something that may be challenging at the moment and saying, "Look at what you've done already; you've got this."

I've made several lists in different places, like my summer checklist, the international goals I had while working abroad during my junior year, and even the worldly travels map I created on Google Maps, detailing my adventures. That's why when a friend showed me Joel Runyon's Impossible List, it inspired me to create one of my own. As he explains on his site, "an impossible list is NOT a bucket list" of things to check off before you die, but rather, a constantly expanding list that motivates you to live life to the fullest, accomplishing things over time that at one point or another, seemed impossible.

My "Impossible List" now has it's own page on this blog and will be updated frequently including links to pictures, blog posts, and video when it is available. I challenge you to make an impossible list of your own; and to let me know what you think of mine!