Weekend Warm-Up: 500 Miles to Nowhere

The premise of bivy-paragliding is simple, even if the execution is not. With a para-glider, camping gear and some suitable thermals you can embark on a truly unique adventure.

Bivy-paragliding offers incredible freedom to explore, but requires flying into areas that may not offer much flat ground for camping. Photo: Jody Macdonald

In 2013, four elite pilots, Nick Greece, Gavin Mcclurg, Nate Scales and Matt Beechinor, set out to fly 800km along an aesthetically beautiful line from Hurricane Ridge, south of Cedar City, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They planned to follow the Wasatch range north, catching thermal currents to push forward, and attempting to find safe landing spots to camp each night.

Using a tandem paraglider to film, the group captured some incredible aerial shots. Photo: Jody Macdonald

The group initially named their expedition “500 miles to Jackson”, but this quickly changed to “500 miles to Nowhere” as monsoon conditions blew up from the Gulf of Mexico, scuppering their carefully laid plans.

A film documenting their journey, produced by Michael Jones, was released in 2014. You can see some of the phenomenal shots of their unpowered flight in the trailer below.

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam. A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon. He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon. His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.

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Lindsay Wootten
Lindsay Wootten
3 years ago

Gorgeous visuals but the North American need to overstate and dramatise everything as shown in the commentary almost made me turn off! As these pilots know and demonstrate in the film, in the paragliding world this aspect of the sport is universally known by the French term ‘vol biv’ or ‘vol bivouac’. We really don’t need to come up with a new name like ‘bivi-paragliding’ for it!