Wednesday, December 21, 2011

¡Viva México!

I have a few minutes to update the blog from El Chalten, Patagonia. I'm here climbing with Hayden Kennedy. We are stoked.
I just spent a month in the world-class paragliding venue of Valle de Bravo, Mexico, learning how to fly my paraglider. This is something I took up this past September with great interest. I am now a full-blown flying addict, I have seen the light. Unlike BASE jumping, which requires ideal conditions and STEEP terrain, paragliding is very conducive to mountain travel. Modern gear is way light, and you can take off in higher winds and fly from point A to point B, how rad is that?
Valle is a charming Mexican village with steep cobbled streets and very friendly locals, and the flying is on almost every day of the year. There I met up with my good friend, and world-class pilot Jim Orava, and a crew of other monkies and flew for hours every day. I progressed quickly, and was eventually piecing together amazing cross-country flights that lasted for several hours.
The highlight for me was eventually flying all the way back to town from the launch site. A task not unlike climbing Squamish's Grand Wall for the first time - except I had a grin way bigger than the first time I climbed the Grand Wall. It lasted for days...
Valle is near some truly world class limestone sport climbing, so I could not resist visiting the mind-blowing Chonta cave near Taxco. Emailing for beta, my Swiss amiga Nina told me I wasn't strong enough to climb there! Ha! Turns out you don't need to be so strong when you are holding on to tufas bigger than yourself!
This part of the world is true paradise, I know it won't be long before I build a sweet mexi villa to retire to for a few month each year...
Some mexi snaps:
Life is never too stressful. The volcanic rock of the Peñon behind. Pablo and I took one afternoon off flying and summitted the torre.

My morning routine included buying a liter of juice. Fresh squeezed, whatever fruit and veg combo you can dream up...

Flying off El Peñon launch.

Getting cloud-sucked while on tadem with El Jimador. Going cross-country flying with Jimmy was a perfect way to learn.

So stoked on flying it home to Valle from the Peñon launch.

Coming in high over town.

We were invited by the Mexican government to visit the nearby town of Tejuphichu to fly off a brand new site. They threw a town-wide party and invited us on stage for some reason... The whole tour was set up by our friend Solomon. They really hooked us up!

The town mayor congratulating us....

Mezcal. Como no?

While on a cross-country bid, I stuffed it one day in the small town of San Pedro, necessitating one of the longer taxi rides back to town. Here I caught a view of the interesting colors of this bird and the wall.

Pablo orders uno round mas para todo.

We couldn't miss out on the nearby Chonta Cave and the village of Taxco, the puebla de plata.

El Jimador himself as asador.

La Chonta!

Pitch one of seven pitch Mala Fama. This cave is out of control.

I didn't take this photo from my paraglider. En route to YVR for a two day layover at home...


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