How pro skier Julian Carr tackled a 210-foot cliff

This story originally appeared on Newschoolers. Words by Matt Kretzschmar.

Julian Carr is a master of send. Known for hucking the biggest cliffs possible, he is practically BASE jumping sans parachute. Some of his biggest jumps include Air Jordan in Whistler and this 175 foot bomb off Wolverine Cirque in the Wasatch, among others. Last year we interviewed him about everything from his worst injury to his thought process before a big jump.

julian carr tackles 210 foot cliff
Julian Carr. Photo: Newschoolers

It’s always interesting to see into the mind of people like Julian. Most view his antics as reckless, some just stand back in awe at what he does. Regardless of your stance, you should check out his explanation of hitting this 210 foot behemoth in Europe.

“My first time to Europe, what a place. We spent three weeks in Austria, then hopped a train to Switzerland. I had seen a few movies with lots of cliffs and pow from the likes of Jamie Pierre, Bryce Phillips, Bryan Barlow, etc. When we rolled into town, conditions were awesome. We took Gondola up, hopped on Jochpass chairlift. On the way up, there was a super obvious, massive, cliff just staring us in the face. First thing that struck me was it was probably very difficult to locate the top of the cliff. It was a fleeting thought. It was literally my first time up the mountain. We had one more chairlift to take; we hadn’t taken the tram yet. [There were] Hundreds of perfect cliffs everywhere, but man, this one was the most perfect massive cliff I had ever seen, [and I was] instantly gravitating towards it.

We immediately hit a few cliffs in the 30-70 foot range. Landings were preserved, snow was dense and light at the same time — perfect for cliffs. I was able to inspect the big cliff. The landing was not quite there for a big cliff like this. I need the landing to be ultra perfect. From cruising around the mountain, I could see an entry into the cliff, it looked tricky but doable. The landing wasn’t quite there. We had plans to travel around Switzerland, maybe check out Italy, but we had storms rolling in to Engelberg. We made some incredible friends in Engelberg, so we posted up for 3, almost 4 weeks.

We would get some 10″ storms that would roll in and rebuff everything. We were skiing lines, hitting the same cliffs over and over, truly a blast. I kept visiting my big cliff, trying to will the landing to be good enough, [but] it just wasn’t quite there. Close, but no cigar.

@juliancarr is clear for landing

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Our trip was coming to an end; we’d be leaving in a few days, [then] the unbelievable happened, a huge storm hit. It snowed for a full day, shut down the mountain, then it went blue for our last full day in town. We woke up early, headed for early gondola. Accumulation rumors were 30″+ storm total, zero wind, just an ultra perfect day ahead. My mind went straight to the big cliff, I wanted to head straight for inspection. As we loaded the gondolas, I got separated from my crew, I went solo on the gondola. Inside the window, there was an old sticker of a big eagle, I took that as a good omen, but didn’t want to get ahead of myself. One step at a time.

We headed up Jochpass chairlift. The cliff couldn’t have looked any better, just beautiful, fresh snowfield above & below the cliff. I skied straight to the landing. I knew I had to be quick in my protocol process, because people would be skiing through my landing within the hour. I hiked up, [and] started my depth testing in the landing area I had been studying for weeks. Landing was ultra perfect, I could stick my entire pole into the snow without any effort, continue with my entire arm, then lean my shoulder, half my body into the snow. [The] Landing was 5’+ feet of the finest Switzerland powder you could ever dream of, on top of their 100″ base. Ultra perfect. Go time.

Next up was the take-off logistics. This cliff would require skiing into the cliff, I wouldn’t be able to ski down to the take-off, spend time manicuring it, this one was going to be natural take-off situation. Since I knew I would have the most blind take-off, for the countless hours I had spent studying the landing zone, I had made horizon point visual landmarks, I knew when I was up on the cliff, I needed to be precise. What I did to make sure I knew where to aim [is] when I’d be probing the landing, studying exactly where I needed to land, I would turn around in the landing area [and] study horizon landmarks, so I could visualize, place myself up on the cliff, skiing towards the take-off, find my horizon landmark [and] send it aimed dead-on to that landmark trajectory. These things were what I was processing as I went up the chairlift.

My crew was Nick Greener. I instructed him to ski to me right after I landed, regardless of anything, just ski to me and check on me. So he took the next chairlift up, skied around the zone [and] was tucked up underneath the cliff on stand by. I had Sky Pinnick filming for Rage Films. Photographer Oskar Enander. And the ultimate wingman, Tom Wayes. We all seamlessly chatted logistics on the chairlift, then we all headed for our respective locations. Once off the chairlift, I attempted to find my entrance to the cliff, but couldn’t find it. The guys on the radio attempted to talk me into it, but there was a maze of cliffs in the area, I couldn’t wrap my head around it, no margin for error. I skied back down, re-study how to get to the top of my cliff, it was a tricky entrance. [Then I] Took the lift back up.

julian carr tackles 210-foot cliff
Carr launches off a 210-foot cliff in Switzerland’s Jochpass. Photo: Newschoolers

I had to make a ski down a side ramp above a small cliff band. Once around the cliff band, I had to make a hop turn above some serious exposure, then start tracking left. As I tracked left, that is when I knew I would find my bushes on the take-off I had studied, so I knew exactly where to take-off, find horizon landmark for visual body aim trajectory. Tricky, tricky. Intense.

Read the entire excerpt from Carr on Newschoolers.

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