Time to Leap! The Highest Jumps in the World

1 03 2008

Leap Day only comes around every four years, so you better make it special and do something memorable. How about by leaping off something?

  • THE HIGHEST BUNGY IN THE WORLD: At 233 meters, this jump off the Macau Tower is the highest in the world, until they build another one (the second tallest is in South Africa at 216 meters, and the third tallest is in New Zealand at 134 meters). Macau was the oldest and last European settlement in Asia and is a popular trip from Hong Kong for its nightlife and casinos. When you leap from the tower, two guidelines hold you steady and you free fall with the cement tower just meters away, a bungy revolution that gives you a better idea of just how fast you are falling.
  • THE HIGHEST TANDEM SKY DIVE IN THE WORLD: In Monterey Bay, California, you can leap from 18,000 feet, which gives you almost two minutes of free fall: the highest you can jump with someone on your back. Besides a putty-face and DVD to show your grandma, you also get amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley.
    • THE HIGHEST SWING IN THE WORLD: Aptly named “Game for Brave People,” this swing in Harbin City, China, is located on the observation deck of an 1100′ tall TV tower, the second tallest steel tower in the world. The observation deck is only 700 feet up but it still looks completely terrifying. So if you are ever in the Heilongjiang Province of China, don’t miss it!
    • THE HIGHEST CAVE BASE JUMP IN THE WORLD: I am not sure if it is grammatically correct to call this the tallest jump, since you actually fall 400 meters into the earth. The cave, a deep, dark, hole located in San Luis Potos, Mexico, is deeper than the Empire State Building is high. Only truly crazy adrenaline junkies strap themselves up with a chute and jump into the earth and climb back out. I am impressed.
    • THE HIGHEST SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING IN THE WORLD: About 30 miles from La Paz in the Bolivian Andes is Chacaltaya, the highest ski resort in the world: the lift goes up to 5300 meters (17,388 feet) above sea level. The air gets very thin up that high, but the locals say it just makes the skiing better. That, and the tea made with cocoa leaves that they serve for apres-ski (no hot toddies here). Hurry up if you want to experience Chacaltaya; global warming and pollution from nearby industrial cities are melting the glaciers which will be gone in 70-80 years.

    What are you waiting for? The glaciers to melt and the sea to rise? Someone to hold your hand? Push you? Give you a beer? Where will you be the next time a leap day comes around? Life is short; slay those dragons and go after your dreams TODAY. Leap!

    post by: Shilo Urban

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    The Nevis Bungee, Queenstown, New Zealand

    22 12 2007

    “Nevis.”

    The word is bounced around backpackers in the South Pacific in a whisper of reverence, with a tremor of fear and a frisson of wonder. The Nevis is the ultimate bungee jump in the Land of Bungee, New Zealand. In a country where every other person is throwing themselves out of planes, jumping off cliffs, diving with monsters of the deep, and tying rubber ropes around their ankles, it is the Nevis that inspires the greatest amount of wide-eyed ‘whoa’.

    It was in Auckland where AJ Hackett performed the first modern bungee jump off the Harbor Bridge, inspired by the natives of Vanuatu. After jumping he was promptly arrested and then repeated his stunt a few weeks later from the Eiffel Tower, gaining worldwide notoriety for the new extreme sport.

    Today the AJ Hackett Bungee World Headquarters is located in the middle of Queenstown, New Zealand, the adventure sports capital of the world. Here you can sign up for your choice of bungee experiences. Some choose The Ledge and jump out over the mountain village (a puny 47 meters), and some choose the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site at the Kawarau Bridge (only 43 meters; bring out the kindergartners). But for the real hard-core chicks like me there is only one option: The Nevis.

    The 4×4 ride out to the jump site along cliff-clinging dirt roads would be enough thrill for most normal people, as would the see-through grating on the floor of the cable car that pulleys you out to the jump pod. High above the rugged river in the windy canyon you wait, hard rock music blasting, heart thumping, knees shaking over the Plexiglas floor, the words of your mother pushed to the very back of your mind. One after another your siblings in insanity fling themselves out of the pod, returning a few minutes later with an open-mouthed I-understand-the-universe-a-little-more-now look on their blood-rushed heads. Finally, it is your turn. Your ankles are bound together, your harness is triple-checked, the ropes are attached, and you shuffle out to the jump platform like a dead man walking. Soak up the amazing view of the open canyon walls and tiny little river hundreds of feet below, and remember that swan dives looks best on the DVD you will buy as proof of your courage/lunacy. Take a deep breath, and give a final wave to the camera for posterity.

    3…2…1…BUNGEE!

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    post and photos by: Shilo Urban