I surf blacks beach early in the morning before the prevailing onshore winds kick in whenever I get the chance. For me, the onshore winds ruin the surface conditions of the waves and makes them more difficult to ride…but for the paragliders, it creates a heavenly updraft off of the cliffs that paragliders can float in all day long.
Because of these updrafts, the Torrey Pines Glider Port (also an access point to hike down the cliff to the beach to surf) is always packed with hang gliders and paragliders waiting to take their turn in the updraft. Watching them fearlessly waddle off the 500ft cliff into the updraft amazes me everytime. I am too much of a wuss to do this:
Torrey Pines Paraglider
I think, this headline is the reason why it scares me so much:
German paraglider survives storm that killed Chinese competitor
The tragedy occurred in Australia where hundreds of competitors were practicing for the World Paragliding Championships. A strong thunderstorm swept in and took many practicing competitors by suprise. The updrafts from the storm caught two competitors by suprise and uncontrolably swept them up to the heavens. One man was swept so high that he died apperently from a lack of oxygen and extreme cold and was found 47 miles away from where he took off.
The second competitor, the one that lived, was pulled up to an altitude of 32,000 feet where she lost consciousness for nearly 30 minutes. She must have lost some altitude and awoke regaining control of her glider and was able to land safely with just some minor frost bite.
I know everyone thinks surfing is dangerous because you can drown or hit the bottom real hard…but paragliding is just nuts. Thirty-Two thousand feet is 3,00 feet higher than Mount Everest which has taken the life of over 186 people trying to assend it it is so high! I am going to leave flying to the birds and rejoin my buddy flipper in the ocean.