The Redbull X-Alps

It’s something of an understatement to say that I’ve become fascinated by the iconic X-Alps hike and fly competition. So much so that I’ve managed to convince my wife to align our family holiday with the beginning of the event in Salzburg in July this year so that I can witness first-hand the start and first flights of some of the greatest competitors in the sport.

Gavin McClurg’s interview with Tom Payne goes into some of the detail in training, preparing and partaking in the X-Alps. For myself, having competed internationally in Skydiving many years ago, but also, more recently, hill running in Scotland, the X-Alps must be the most extreme combination of many disciplines, not to mention the sheer endurance of travelling 1038km by wing or foot in just over a week.

Tom also talks about his “incident” where he had a double reserve throw and still ended up without a full canopy above his head. Landing hard on a convenient grassy slope apparently saved his life and, fortunately, he walked away unharmed. Hearing of this reminds me of my reservations about the reserve system in paragliding and wondering if things could be improved? Maybe I’m naive in thinking this, but in my skydiving brain, it just seems wrong to be hand deploying a reserve into a half inflated wing streaming towards the ground.

For now, I just have to sit and wait to witness the ultimate Hike and Fly adventure beginning in Austria in July. Will Chrigel Maurer win again? Or is it time for a new victor?

I look forward to seeing them all on the Gaisberg!

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