Around the world in 80 adventures for Steamboat’s Kerry Lofy
November 15, 2013
Steamboat Springs — When he finally returned home from an around-the-world adventure — where he jumped from thousand-foot cliffs in Europe, skied in the rarefied air on the Himalayas and stepped off the top of the world's tallest tower in Asia — Kerry Lofy's mother had the most sensible of responses.
"I hope you got that out of your system," she told her son, one of Steamboat Springs' most avid adventurers.
Unfortunately for her, that's not how it works for those who seek thrills as Lofy does. Recounting his offseason extravaganza that took him to Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal and Japan, he labeled the experience "the trip of a lifetime."
Even he knew better, however.
It might have been a great trip, but it's not likely to be any kind of pinnacle.
"You don't get it out of your system," Lofy explained Friday by phone while in California, where he was crafting a plan to get on "The Price is Right."
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"You get it embedded in you forever," he said. "I'm never trying to one-up my last adventure. I'm just concentrating on enjoying life and living."
He lived enough for a whole neighborhood of Steamboaters on his most recent trip, a voyage filled with all the "go with the flow" moments Lofy loves. Those, in fact, defined the experience.
Take, for instance, his flight out of the U.S. at the start of his journey. First, he postponed it after his softball team made the championships. Then, after finally being airborne over the Atlantic, he was approached by someone who'd noticed his BASE jumping parachute, which he'd packed along as carry-on luggage. The fellow jumper also was heading to the extreme-sports hotbed of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.
"I have a rental car," the man explained. "Want to go to Italy, first?"
Of course, Lofy went, climbing and BASE jumping in the Italian Dolomite mountains in the northeast corner of the country before returning to Switzerland for more intense wingsuit BASE jumping.
Or consider the story of how Lofy ended up skiing in the world's highest mountain range.
That came later in the trip, after the stint in Italy and three more weeks of BASE jumping and general life risking in Switzerland, after a trip to Malaysia for an actual BASE jumping event and after a week of jumping from cliffs and relaxing on beaches in Thailand.
The stop in Nepal was meant to be a scouting trip for Lofy. He wants to go back in May to summit Mount Everest and to ski the flanks of the world's tallest mountain. He landed and began the hike to Everest Base Camp, initially frustrated with the heavy traffic — tons of trekkers plus endless horse and yak trains. A massive and unseasonable snowstorm brought the region to a halt, and after days of hunkering down in a village and surviving on boiled noodles, Lofy took advantage.
"We were at this last village before base camp, just walking through one of the tea houses we were staying at, and a storage closest was open," he said. "I saw them, a pair of skis and boots."
They were less than ideal, 1980s style skinny skis and old rear-entry boots, but Lofy isn't the type to complain when skiing is involved. He stopped what he was doing, tracked down the owner and begged him for an unofficial rental.
"I showed him pictures on my cellphone to prove, 'I'm an OK skier. Can I borrow these for a day?'" Lofy said. "So he let me take them to go ski a couple of runs. Actually, it was a lot of runs."
He didn't go up Everest but skied mostly on several smaller — smaller, not small — peaks near that beast. He hiked up again and again, groaning as the ill-fitting boots bit into his feet and laboring just to try to catch his breath at 19,000 feet.
Fearful of avalanches, he hired a local guide who mostly stood at the bottom of the slope, perhaps wondering what on earth was going through his client’s head.
"I was so excited," he said. "It made the trip. It was the highlight."
It was a trip full of highlights. He met famous snowboarding filmmaker Jeremy Jones in Nepal. He went paragliding and bungee jumping elsewhere in Nepal. He logged nearly 30 jumps in Switzerland, then 30 more when he traveled to Malaysia to the Kuala Lumpur Tower along with dozens of other elite BASE jumpers.
His final leg was to Japan, but by the time he landed there, he was eager to return home. Make no mistake, though, the wide smile he had when he returned to the Yampa Valley was not a sign that he had gotten anything out of his system.
"I'm not afraid of dying," he said, considering another wingsuit BASE jumper he saw die in Switzerland. "I'm more afraid of not living, of not enjoying my life and living it to the fullest. I don't want to live my life in an office and have two weeks of vacation a year. I’d rather be on permanent vacation, doing what I love to do."