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Aconcagua Speed Riding: Video and Interview
For mountaineers the 8,000' south face of Aconcagua (6962m), Argentina, is a technically demanding wall of rock and ice. For speed riders, it's a three-minute trip at speeds exceeding 150 kph. [Photo] Francois Bon collection
11. What special moments did you encounter on the way down?
It's like another reality to do a speed ride like this. Perhaps that's because of the high altitude.
I stayed very focused on the decisions for take off, like the wind conditions, the clouds. Then, just after the start, all I could think of was: "Wow that's so fast!!" The air pressure was intense—something I didn't experience on Mont Blanc. I passed each snow area so quickly that I felt like I was falling among the cliffs. My trajectories were so vertical, so unusual.
12. Can you describe how you felt when you reached the bottom?
Full of adrenalin, of course! I took time to recall every wild moment of the descent, my heart drumming, and... Oxygen! Feeling oxygen in my brain was a pleasure after fifteen days of traveling. During the 4.5-hour walk to approach camp, I was floating in the moonlight—a great way to finish the ride.
13. What's next for you in speed flying or other adventures?
There are always more interested people to get involved, more places to discover—especially the extreme locations where flying mini gliders will be possible.
14. What is currently possible in speed flying, and where is the sport going?
Mountaineers can go down mountains quickly speed flying—that's not only a matter of convenience, but also a matter of safety. The sport is becoming more prevalent, and at the elite competition level riders are going for enormous, fast runs (there are both slalom and freeride competitions). In France, dedicated areas exist in ski resorts, and dedicated schools are requiring instructor qualifications to teach the sport. Other countries like Switzerland, Austria and Germany are also organizing the practice through ski areas, competitions, governments.
And the best part about speed riding is that it's pleasurable in every place, at every level. It's attracting lots of people—many of whom do not come from a paragliding background. Mostly skiers are trying the activity, and in time it will become a real part of the free flight world.
15. Do you think speed riding will ever become mainstream?
In time, air sports will include speed flying on a greater scale—that's a natural evolution. Let's use the background and knowledge that the air sports community has built to grow organically without mistakes. It's a rare opportunity to make the free flight community bigger.
16. Is speed riding for everyone?
Yes, speed riding is for any confirmed skier. At every level you're able to have lots of fun! The best way to start is to try paragliding, or speed riding at ski resorts that have certified instructors (more information at www.speedriding-school.com).
17. What's it like to fly?
To fly is freedom: no lies, pure expression, osmosis with the natural elements.
To learn more about speed riding, check out the huge archive of pictures and videos on www.acro-base.com.