Phil sends big lines in the biggest terrain in the Alps and decided a couple decades ago to ditch his engineering career because the sky was calling. An Australian native, Phil discovered Zermatt over twenty years ago and made it his home. We discuss the business of tandem flying and the inherent risks involved; the importance of confidence when flying XC; how to “own it”; the best flying sites in the Alps; the call of the big mountains; how to make a career in flight; what makes the “perfect” student; and how to always be wary of complacency. Enjoy!
In this episode we turn the tables a bit and I get interviewed by Nik Hawks, who followed the race closely and had a bunch of questions for me. Why did we pull the nightpass the first night? What mistakes were made? What did we learn from the 2015 race that came in handy this time? That bomb-out on day three when we were in such a strong position- what happened and what were the consequences? This and a lot more.
The 2017 Red Bull X-Alps was the hardest yet- a very difficult course and extremely poor flying weather. 5 athletes were eliminated and 7 withdrew due to exhaustion or injury and only two made it to Monaco. The race ended after 11 days and 23 hours. Here are some clips from Day 8, 9, and 10 that highlight how amazing the journey can be, and some of the crazy situations you find yourself dealing with (like landing in a tree!).
The Red Bull X-Alps is known as the toughest adventure race in the world, and for good reason. Athletes and their supporters race from Salzburg to Monaco, a straight-line distance of over 1000 km, by foot or by paraglider, tagging 10 turn points as they travel along the spine of the Alps.
Every morning I head out and my head says no but my body says yes. The sweating starts, the cursing follows but the body just does the work. “Shut the fuck up head!” I keep saying, but it keeps grunting relentlessly. “I’ll shut up when you take a break!” But I don’t feel like I can afford a break. Just a few more weeks and that gun goes off in Salzburg and there won’t be any more time to prepare.
Yesterday we finally got a chance. Bruce and I are about as hungry as you can get. And not for food, the Abazzia restaurant continues to blow our minds. Hungry for distance. It didn’t look like it would be a great day. Too much wind, too early over-development and rain. All of which were true, but maybe, just maybe we could squeak a chocolate (100 km flight).