Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, March 03, 2005





Admyering the View: 13,000 feet and jumping

Sky diving is a rush I'd like to feel again

 by Amanda L. Myers  published on Thursday, March 3, 2005



As I ride in an airplane 13,000 feet above the stark Arizona desert, I prepare to jump.

I triple-check the straps connecting me to an experienced sky diver, look at the altitude gauge attached to the strap on my upper right shoulder and glance out the window.

Thirteen-thousand feet is a lot higher than I had imagined; I can't even make out cars.

As each pair of divers jumps out of the plane, my partner and I scooch closer to the door. My eyes don't leave the opening.

Once I get to the door, I am so eager to jump that I don't even wait for the go-ahead. My instructor pulls me back in and tells me to cool my jets.

Then, on the count of three, we jump.

I can't hear a thing but the sound of air flying past my ears at 200 mph. For a second, the air hits my mouth so hard that I can't breath.

The speed is astounding -- almost too fast to completely understand what is happening.

Despite the speed, I am surprised by how long the freefall lasts: almost three minutes.

Eventually, the instructor strapped to my back pulls the parachute cord and in one second, we jerk from 200 mph to an almost dead stop -- not exactly a pleasant feeling considering the placement of the harness.

He steers us toward the landing site and we coast to safety.

My first thought: "Let's do it again."

Three years later, I still thirst for adventure. Though my wallet can't exactly afford sky diving, I frequent the largest roller coaster park in the world, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. There, I can get on a 400-foot coaster and go down a 90-degree drop at 120 mph.

I ride quads as often as possible, romping around the desert, jumping off ramps made by Mother Nature and often getting chased by the wild dogs in my neighborhood.

Although some of my friends think I am just plain nuts, and my mother's blood pressure rises every time I tell her about my next adventure, most of my activities are child's play compared to the extreme sports in which some ASU students participate.

Those students, who do everything from bouldering and kayaking to shark diving and extreme mountain biking, are the subject of this week's cover story, "To extremes," on page 6.

"I get a great fear rush," says ASU grad Scott Scharli, who rock climbs in the most extreme conditions. "I receive the mental satisfaction of trying a climb over and over until all of a sudden I stick 'that' move and make it to the top."

Also in this issue, read about a very different group of ASU students who get their kicks out of playing chess. But, don't make assumptions; these kids are cooler than you'd think. Check them out in "All the right moves" on page 10.

They may not be sky diving, but I'm sure getting that queen feels like jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet.

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