Icelands Arctic Shores - Cody Tuttle

Imagine walking along a black sand beach covered in fragments of glacial ice yielded from a glacier covering an active volcano. Now imagine that you could fly along these sea shores, land at the local beachside café, and enjoy a nice cold one.  I would have never planned a flying trip to Iceland, but after spending a week in this magical country I would beg to differ.  After spending 2 weeks filming with X-Alps pilot Dave Turner and his adventure partner Malcolm Wood in Chamonix, I decided to make a week long stop in Iceland.  Coming from Europe where we were filming speed riding on Mt. Blanc and making not one but several flights of a lifetime, I already had my paraglider and mini wing packed and ready to go.  Not knowing what to expect out of Iceland I was eager to get there and start exploring the flyable terrain on this seemingly mythical island.

Chasing the golden hour near one of Iceland's several rural waterfalls. Photo: Cody Tuttle

When I first landed in Reykjavik, I had to make sure I was in the right country.  When you take a look at the placement of Iceland on a map it leaves you feeling like you have traveled to outer space.  My lack of research only left me with visual impressions of lush green landscapes and raging waterfalls.  It has become the most hip place to travel to for the Instagram generation of photographers today.  I was confronted with a social contrast that left you feeling like you were in a cold war stricken town somewhere in Eastern Europe.  Waiting in the airport for my bags to arrive, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into, and that’s how I typically travel; flying by the seat of my pants without an itinerary.  This often leads to the greatest adventures, but can leave you stranded in a strange country with no idea on where to go.  The focus of this trip was to tick off as many beautiful landscape photo opportunities as possible. As an adventure photographer I was in dire need to bolster my portfolio with more than just extreme sports and expedition photos. I needed to harness my inner Ansel Adams and create landscape images that I could be proud of. A week layover in Iceland seemed like the perfect habitat for a novice landscape photographer to grow.  Or so I hoped.

Cody Tuttle launching off Mt. Blanc. Photo: Alex Langlow

Setting up a motion timelapse as a storm quickly moves across the valley. Photo: Chris Harder

I was joined on this trip by Canadian photographer Chris Harder. He had spent some time in Iceland before and was itching to get back to explore more of its landscapes.  We set off in our little rental car stuffed to the gills with all my bags from my previous shoot in Chamonix and started down the road. However, soon after driving out of town, we stopped to photograph a waterfall. Looking over to the sloping hill by the falls, I noticed that there was easy access to get above the waterfall, with wind blowing in perfectly up the hill. Duffel bags full of winter camping gear exploded in the back seat as I dug around to find my mini wing.  The topography and weather in Iceland is dramatic and quickly changing by the minute. If it’s not raining there is a good chance you will find a flyable summit or ridge within an hour’s drive.  I had only been in the country for 3 hours as I packed up my 4lb mini wing and started up what would be my first hike and fly on the island.  Barely able to keep my eyes open on the drive, I quickly found a new sense of energy as I hiked along the ridge passing waterfalls and sheep grazing on the tall green grass that covered the slope.  It felt like I was walking through a story book, Where The Wild Things Are.  After finding the perfect spot, I laid out my 17m Ozone LightSpeed and clipped into my harness.  It almost felt too easy as a 5mph wind blew straight up launch. With no cameras or agenda, I stepped off on my first flight in Iceland, a flight I will remember for a lifetime. 

Cody exploring some of the local flying sites in small town of Vik.  Photo: Chris Harder

With trimmers out I found myself skimming along the grassy slopes as dozens of sheep scurried the hillside.  This was a much different experience as this country was not accustomed to paragliding pilots visiting the area.  Tourist and locals alike stopped their vehicles and pointed looking at me as I seemed to float down from the top of the mountain. Seeing the expression on their faces I could remember the first time I took flight. It was like nothing else I had ever experienced before.  The sense of flying is enough to make anyone feel like a kid again. We as pilots have the opportunity to experience this feeling over and over again as we continually set sail to the sky with our magic backpacks constructed of thin chords and nylon sheets.  These aircrafts are truly magical.  When you try to explain how they work you sound like a mad scientist.

Endless soaring of the coast of Vik. Photo: Chris Harder

Upon landing I was greeted by an Icelandic couple who were traveling in the biggest 4x4 adventure wagon I have ever seen.  They were sitting next to the stream preparing lunch and quickly asked me if I would like to join them for some fresh salmon and cheese over bread.  Thinking to myself “this might be the best meal I eat in the next week” I quickly joined.  Less than 1 day into the trip I knew this would be more than just an opportunity to create stunning imagery, but also an opportunity to share my adventure as a photographer and pilot with those I came in contact with. Just as I was taken away by the stunning landscapes of this country, the locals seemed just as interested in the life I live as an adventure photographer and athlete.

Skogafoss one of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls. Photo: Cody Tuttle

I recently got off an expedition with fellow pilot and mentor, Nick Greece, who told me about a very small yet enthusiastic paragliding community in Vik, Iceland. After sending a few emails, I drove into the town, population of 400, where I met up with Gisli Johannesson tandem instructor and owner of True Adventure Paragliding. Once arriving in Vik, I slammed down a $20 cheese burger before heading to the small hostel overlooking town where Gisli ran his paragliding operation. A group of friends gathered around a flaming sculpture I would later discover to be a homemade pizza oven.  This later became the location for my second and last hot meal of the trip.  It seemed like this was where the local flying community met daily before heading to launch, to share stories after a day of flying, and to indulge in the fine art of Pizza. The owner of the hostel also owned the land where Gisli and crew had established both east and west facing launches allowing for endless coastal soaring along a 500ft tall peninsula jutting out to the north Atlantic Ocean.  It’s not often you stumble across such a beautiful and manicured private launch with aspects facing both prominent wind directions.  The steep cliffs and jagged rocks below made for a beautifully scenic place to fly.  Only minutes later I found myself driving up a grassy goat trail to launch where I made my first real flights in Iceland. Only being days after the summer solstice, I found myself soaring the ocean cliffs late into the night as the sun set for nearly 5 hours. As we soared to the tip of the peninsula, we crossed over 3 jagged spires that watched over the shores of town like watchmen in the night. The contrast between the lush, green meadows and the black sandy beaches created a sensational flying experience like no other.  I was trying to imagine the thoughts of the tourist flying tandem with Gisli.  I have had the opportunity to fly in some of the most beautiful locations in the world and this was by far an experience I would remember forever.  It was a way to see Iceland in a way that not many people ever have. 

Vik, Iceland straight out of a story book.  Photo: Chris Harder

In my meager 18 months of becoming a paragliding pilot, the sport has taken me to some of the most beautiful and surreal landscapes on the planet. The art of free flight has allowed me to explore the world in a new way and I’ve realized that you don’t have to be sending 150 mile lines in the Eastern Sierra’s where I learned how to fly, but rather it’s about the progression of how you allow this sport to guide you through a new way of life. It has allowed me to discover new places, meet many new beautiful people and through that establish some of the closest friends I have today. Flying with some giants of this sport, I have experienced so much and been able to apprentice under the wing of incredible mentors that have helped guide me along the way.

Glacial Lagoon southern Iceland. Photo: Cody Tuttle

Transitioning from a technical, and at times difficult expedition on Mt Blanc, to the breathtaking shores of Iceland, I am always amazed at how versatile this sport has become to me. It is about the discovery and new experiences rather than the sight of goal. It has allowed me to be involved in a community amongst other pilots sharing a new form of sanctity in the mountains, and has inspired me to look at the world with a fresh set of eyes, seeking the next great adventure.

If you are looking for a unique adventure be sure to check out Iceland.  Don’t count on making it a flying trip but rather a trip to experience a country that will burn memories into your mind forever.  And if you are lucky you might make a magical flight or two.

Click Here for the USHPA article. 

 

 

Adventures in Nepal's Forbidden Kingdom

"Rough Trails & Bright Skies" Coming Fall 2016

Words by: Cherise Tuttle  Photos by: Cody Tuttle & Nick Greece

A young monk is caught off guard as explosions are set off during the last night of the TiJi Festival.  Photo: Cody Tuttle

This Spring we embarked on a 10-day trip to travel to a once forbidden kingdom on Royal Enfield motorbikes to fly mini paragliders where few have ever flown before. You may ask why would we did this? And we reply, why not? We are only limited by our imagination and motivation to see those visions come to pass. Cody had this dream and as he talked to friends with common passions, we found more who had this dream – maybe not exactly like this, but they said yes to the adventure! Originally a trip that Cody and I would make, we accrued 3 more friends just as hungry for crazy exploration. Jamie and Isabella Messenger have lived in Pokhara about 10 years pursuing paragliding and founding a non-profit, Karma Flights, and Nick Greece hailing from Salt Lake City, UT is the founder of the parent non-profit, Cloudbase Foundation, to Karma Flights. The three of them have been close friends for years, Nick being a part of Jamie and Bella’s wedding and having flown in many paragliding competitions together around the world.

Jamie Messenger descends into the river valley with views of 8000m Annapurna 1 in the background. Photo: Nick Greece

So together we rode off into the sunset full of optimism and enthusiasm. Our panniers were packed and goofy grins slapped on our faces. We were a sight for sore eyes ‘brapping’ our tough rides like a kid on his first dirt bike. By the fourth day though the stoke had disintegrated to frustration when just 16 km from our final destination, two out of three bikes broke down. We thought we had lucked out though when we saw a mechanics sign in the small village we stopped in, however, three hours later after every man in the village revved the engines and gave their two cents of the possible problem, we realized the mechanics sign was merely a sign and nothing would be fixed that day. We called Matt from Hearts and Tears who we rented our bikes from, gulping on a piece of humble pie as we asked for him to send one of his guys out to fix the bikes. He had strongly recommended that we bring one of his mechanics along, but we declined feeling optimistic and invincible.

Who doesn’t want to race through the desert on a motorcycle? When we rolled into town, these kids were in hog heaven! It was time to tear it up like Mad Max on the Fury Road. We would later realize that these lovely children utlilzing the bikes as jungle-gyms broke the shifting linkage and left us with only 1 st gear on the black Enfield. Photo: Cody Tuttle

Cherise Tuttle and Isabella Messenger taking a break from the bone crushing roads of Northern Nepal. Photo: Cody Tuttle

The next day we left with only one of the original bikes, a rented bike and the support jeep. The anticipation of making it to Lo Manthang to experience the Tiji Festival was pushing us forward. The TIji Festival is an annual Buddhist celebration. We had only heard of it and seen old photos from when the first Westerner’s had captured it on camera. The cultural experience looked rich in tradition, but as we neared the gates of the once forbidden Kingdom, we realized we weren’t the only foreigners who had made the pilgrimage to this historic event.

Monks from Lo Manthang prepare for the TiJi Festival. Photo: Nick Greece

The Tiji festival commonly pronounced “Teeji” is the abbreviated form of Tempa which translates to “prayer for world peace”. Tiji commemorates the victory of Buddha’s incarnation, Dhorji Sonam, over a demon called MA TAM RU TA, who caused storms and droughts to destroy people’s houses and livestock. The dance performed by the monks of Lo Manthang during the three day festival reenacts the evils perpetrated by MA TAM TU TA, the birth of Dhorji the demon’s son and attempt by Dhorji to return the demon to the Buddha realm. 

Large Mani Wheels surround the King’s palace in Lo Manthang. Each spin of the wheel is believed to release good Karma onto the community. Photo: Cody Tuttle

The streets were filled with tourists, cameras drawn and ready. As we hurried to the courtyard where the festival was taking place, we gaped at the amount of Westerner’s milling around – they far outweighed the locals. Storeowners were hustling the streets, showing off their valuable merchandise and goods. While we understand the value of tourism for the economy, it was slightly disappointing that we weren’t the only one’s who had this epic idea to visit at this specific time. But like all good things, the festival came to an end, and the tourists deserted the small walled city. We had the place to ourselves and as we settled into the small guesthouse, we looked to the hills longingly. It was time to fly.

Jamie Messenger leaving the Annapurna range behind him as we make the epic journey back home to Pokhara. Photo: Cody Tuttle

Cherise Tuttle taking a break from filming / taking a serious beating on the back of the motorcycle. Both Cherise and Isabella Messenger managed to stay on the back of these suspension-less bikes for several days at a time. Photo: Cody Tuttle

The arid mountainous desert surrounded us opening our minds to various flying spots. We had heard that the wind was good between 6:30-9:30am whereupon it would pick up to be gusty and variable. In the hills above Lo Manthang, we saw an eroding castle with prayer flags softly dancing in the wind. We first launched below the castle experiencing spicy high altitude, short flights. The crew then took their mini paragliders to the castle and caught some epic sky time. I’m not sure if the locals are just used to foreigners doing silly things, but as they looked up to see us flying down, they kept on with their daily lives. Only did the children run over to see what we were doing, curiosity getting the best of them. On one of the flights, Nick Greece was greeted by a few small rosy cheeked kids who offered him snacks once he landed. The locals throughout our trip were incredibly kind and welcoming. We couldn’t help but wonder at their tenacity to live in such a rugged, sometimes unforgiving part of the world.

Jamie Messenger kiting up his new ultralight Ozone mini wing. The LightSpeed was the perfect glider for this type of nomadic expedition. Photo: Nick Greece. 

Jamie Messenger and Cody Tuttle take their first flights in the Mustang outside the walled city of Lo Manthang. Photo: Nick Greece

These young kids met us after landing in Lo Manthang. Interested in our paragliders they also came offering us their lunch. Nick had a portable printer that he used to give each kid a portrait. Photo: Nick Greece

On the way up, Cody and Nick had noticed a potential flying spot outside the village of Samar. So on our way back down, Cody, Nick, Bella and Jamie went to scout the site and ended up taking the best flights of the trip down to a dry river bed. With the Annapurna range standing proud in the distance and red, sandy cliffs decorating their background, they couldn’t help but stay an extra day to fly.

I’d like to say that we came, we saw, and we conquered, but this place will never be conquered and we will spend decades finding more adventures in those sandy hills. We had the adventure of our lifetimes though, and plan on pursuing that adventure for years to come.

Cody and Jamie heading out to launch their mini wings early in the morning before the strong valley winds kick up making it impossible to fly. Photo: Nick Greece

The roads to Mustang were incredibly challenging on these 1950’s era Royal Enfield motorcycles. With no real suspension and no planned itinerary, we set our sights on the Tibetan border with high hopes that our bikes would make it all the way. We would face disappointment and redemption along the way. Photo: Cody Tuttle

Nick Greece and Jamie Messenger set to the skies taking in the view of the rugged Himalaya and leaving the earth behind. Photo: Cody Tuttle

The team makes it all the way to the Tibetan boarder with the last running Royal Enfield.  Cody, Cherise Tuttle, Isabella Messenger, Nick Greece, Jamie Messenger. 

 

Powder TV - Chris Benchetler

When you find yourself driving up the US Highway 395, the Sierra Nevada mountains have a special way of calling you to their summits. We had the opportunity to follow professional skier Chris Benchetler on an early season backcountry adventure to the summit of Mount Locke, 12,634ft, to produce a new series "All Time" for Powder TV. The desire to explore and the wanderlust for un-skied, un-tracked terrain will lead us to the summits of these mountains, year after year, to experience pure Valhalla.

With the Sierra Nevada snowpack measuring 115 percent of normal, thanks in large part to El Niño, the vast backcountry is finally in shape for skiers to head out to the Eastern Sierra classics.

On Friday, January 29, Chris Benchetler and Wingate Motion did just that, pointing it south from their Mammoth Lakes homes to Bishop, California, where Benchetler was born. There they bouldered around the Buttermilks before heading up to the Wahoo Gullies. The crew hiked the center gully to the top of 12,634-foot Mount Locke before skiing 3,000 feet of pure bliss down the northeast-facing couloir. Truly, an all-time day in the Eastern Sierra backcountry, allowing the crew, for a brief bit, to forget about the severe drought from the last four years.

 

 

Source: http://www.powder.com/videos/powder-tv/all...

Join Slackline US Today!

This month we've pulled out some of our favorite stock footage to help cut a promotional video for our friends over at Slackline US. 

Here's what Wingate Motion Director Scott Rogers has to say about the project:

"I’ve been slacklining for over 14 years, ever since I saw someone with a line up at a climbing competition when I was back in high school. Slacklining has taken me to some really amazing places: Thailand, Brazil, the Middle East, all over Europe and the US. Through all of these years in all of these places, one of the best parts of slacklining is consistently the amazing community of people. Slackliners are some of the best folks on the planet! Whenever I take off to go slacklining somewhere away from home, I know I always have a couch to crash on. And now some of those same folks who make the community so strong have taken things one step further and started the US National Slackline Association.

Wingate Motion finished this video for them a couple weeks ago and it really helps to outline the great things that they’re doing for slacklining in the US:

·        Education
·        Access Issues
·        Accident Reporting
·        Rigging Programs
·        Stewardship Projects

They’re basically the Access Fund of the Slacklining World, and they’re going to be doing some really awesome things this year. If you like slacklining and you live in the US, please consider becoming a member!"

www.slackline.us

Andy Lewis on a Highline in Moab. 

Go crazy with the world’s biggest (double) hammock!

The Spacenet is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever. Prepare to be blown away.

We’ve been working really hard trying to get all the content together from the 2015 Thanksgiving Festival and it sure is a blast looking through everything and remembering all the good times we shared with great people. Last week we worked with Red Bull to create a fun short edit displaying Andy Lewis’ double space net in all its glory and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out! Check out the video and the article here: Read More

How sweet was that?! Watching Taylor Smallwood and Matt Blank totally rock the rope swing to cutaway to BASE jump was one of the highlights of the year for sure! Stay tuned for a trailer of our upcoming short film ‘Sky Tribe’ with some of these sweet shots and more. Including:

  • The longest Human Anchored Highline starring Liz Thomas and the ever-inspiring slacklifeBC crew.
  • The Russian Swing BASE jump thanks to the amazing ingenuity of Travis Tripp and Sean Chuma
  • Wingsuit BASE off Castleton Tower with Richard Webb, Chris LaBounty and Rudi Cassan.
  • The Zip Line to BASE jump with Calvin Hecker.
  • And More!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to making these projects possible and this year’s event so amazing! The community of highliners and BASE jumpers continues to be the most inspirational, supportive and fun-loving group on the globe and we at Wingate Motion feels privileged to be a part of it.

Source: http://www.redbull.com/en/adventure/storie...

Outlaws Over Their In-Laws | Sky Tribe Film

Roughly 400 rag-tag dirt bags and silent heroes from across the globe gather in the sandstone cliffs outside of Moab during Thanksgiving 2015 for Gobble Gobble Bitches Yea and Turkey Boogie; two festivals that are dedicated to supporting each spark that engulfs the imagination and pushes the limits of human possibility. Within 10 days, 17 highlines were strung, two space nets suspended and one Russian BASE swing constructed in the middle of the desert by dreamers, inventors, and influential creators coming together to create an unstoppable community. “It’s a cool environment to do groundbreaking things with talented people. It always has been and will continue to be that way.” says Scott Rogers, Director of the upcoming Wingate Motion film “Sky Tribe”. This group creates an atmosphere only portrayed in the Hollywood blockbusters, like finding the magical wardrobe or taking the red pill; you feel like you’ve made it to Neverland. 

BASE jumper Ian Mitchard exits quite possibly one of the worlds most interesting BASE exits.  Photo: Scott Rogers

The tight, red canyon walls drop more than 350 feet below leaving you standing at a precipice of possibilities. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by the world’s best of the best in extreme sports, and each one of them is here to collaborate with your inspiration. That is where Scott Rogers and Cody Tuttle, Co-Directors of Wingate Motion, come into play. Documenting such incredible feats was a no-brainer for these two. Scott is one of the original Moab Monkeys and has been a part of the festival since it started many years ago. “At the beginning, we were setting world records every year. At the first GGBY we rigged a 135 foot highline with Terry Acomb called ‘A Walk In The Sun’ and that was a world record for the very first GGBY. One year, Andy Lewis walked a 330 foot line out there, which was the first highline longer than 100 meters.” While records never have been a priority at the festival, they tend to happen thanks to the creative, open, and energetic people who gather there year after year.

Andy Lewis preparing to walk a highline strung between 2 space nets with nothing but a BASE parachute for protection. Photo: Cody Tuttle

Rich Webb and Chris LaBounty make the first 2 way wingsuit exit off Castleton Tower followed by Rudy Cassan and Ryan Mattson. 

Unknown highliner experiences the 700ft highline during one of Moab's most spectacular sunsets. Photo: Cody Tuttle

It was only a matter of time before the world would find out about GGBY and the Turkey Boogie events held in Moab. In eight years, the GGBY event grew from a mere 15 people on a camping trip to 400 people choosing “the outlaws over their in-laws” as Scott describes. With the growing community, 2015 was the biggest event yet, with GGBY and the Turkey Boogie mashed together for the second year in a row. The Wingate Motion production team hung off cliff faces, climbed tall boulders, and bounced across 4WD desert roads to work with the most talented Wingsuiters, BASE jumpers, and Highliners in the world. Over the week we captured the first two-way wingsuit flight off of Castleton Tower, the longest human anchored highline, the rope swing to BASE and Russian swing to BASE, just to name a few. “The cool thing about the event is that it’s a collection of so many awesome people that are so creative and so open to expressing their creativity uninhibited, because it is such an open and welcoming environment that it’s conducive for doing new and cool things.” says Scott. And that’s exactly what Wingate was able to capture.

Words cannot describe this expression of art, better known as the Space Net. In one photo many different mediums are being practiced: BASE jumping out of the space net's portal, yoga performed in the net, and fighting the 700+ ft mental demon of a highline in the background. Come as you are and experience the family. Photo: Cody Tuttle

Wingate’s “Sky Tribe” lives somewhere between the documentation of the rare extreme sports we all know and love, and the embrace of the friends and outlaws we love as family. This community is built upon striving for more as a whole, thus empowering the individual; making each world record event a group achievement, which can’t be explained better than witnessing the human anchored highline. “That’s why we are making this film, to not only document this amazing event, but to inspire other people and other communities to continue doing things that they are passionate about; to grow, to create, to inspire others who continue to increase the collective amount of good things that we still have as humans in this world and try to offset the bad.” Scott describes the passion behind the film project we all share at Wingate. This film will unveil a totally new world for anyone who has not experienced the BASE or Highlining community, creating the feeling of a world hidden in another reality. This is our family, our Sky Tribe, and we encourage you to share, join in the fun, and to hopefully be inspired to go out with your own tribe and discover the realm of human possibility. 

Words: Tiffany Junge