JUMP at your own risk

Injuring yourself while cliff jumping is as easy as the sport itself: all you have to do is jump. If you can do it right, however, it’ll open up a whole new world.

Photo by Christian Knight

The Koberg cliffs just east of Hood River offer heights from 10 feet up to 30 feet.

By Christian Knight and Adam Lapierre

News staff writers

July 16, 2005

Of all the outdoor sports in the Gorge, cliff jumping might be the most primitive.

You don’t need to invest in a pair of special cliff jumping shoes that some engineer designed specifically to minimize “water entry impact” to do it.

A pair of old tennis shoes will do just fine.

You don’t need to attend a three-day cliff jumping school. The prodding advice from your buddy, who just jumped six times to show you how, will suffice.

All you really need is a cliff, deep water and an urge – that flash of internal calm that, for a fleeting moment, says you really can abandon the earth for a second or two and be just fine when that cold splash of reality envelops you.

You’ll want to bring one more thing with that towel and sunscreen, however.

Judgment.

The basalt in the Columbia River Gorge has created dozens of cliff jumping spots within bike riding distance of Hood River.

They range in size from five feet to 80 feet; in danger from that of a diving board to that which can kill you.

Every one of these places can hurt you. Even the 10-footers.

Twelve days ago, for example, David Green, a Tampa, Fla., 17-year-old earned a hospital bed at Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Hospital when jumping off a 60-foot cliff known as Lower Punchbowl on Eagle Creek.

The rescue lasted six hours.

Green spent much of that time immersed in Eagle Creek’s icy pool.

If you do it right, however, you can have both the euphoria of falling and a healthy body.

The worst injury Joe Sellars sustained in his 29 years of avid cliff jumping is bruised arms. Sellars, who owns airabovewater.com started cliff jumping as a 10-year-old with his brother and dad at the Koberg Cliffs just a few miles east of Hood River.

He became so zealous about cliff jumping through the years that in 2004, he hosted the first JUMPFEST at Punchbowl Falls on the West Fork of the Hood River.

Forty people showed up, including an entire wedding party.

He’s hosting the event again this year Aug. 13 - 14 at the same location.

“The Gorge is fantastic for cliff jumping,” he says. “We can call it one of cliff jumping’s capitals of the world. It’s beautiful. The Gorge is definitely a cliff jumper’s dream.”

*****

We at the News have tested some of the Gorge’s best cliff jumping spots. Please see reviews of them on pages B2-B3 of the July 20, edition of the Hood River News.

— Christian Knight

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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