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Grand Canyon Leap

by Brett M. Christensen

Photographs currently circulating via email show a photographer leaping from one towering Grand Canyon rock formation to another.

Brief Analysis:
The photographs are genuine. However the two outcrops are actually joined by a rock ledge that cannot be seen in the photographs. Thus, the stunt is somewhat less dangerous than it appears in that a jumper who slipped would most probably land on the rock ledge rather than plummeting fatally to the canyon floor.

Subject: Things I will never do in Grand Canyon

This all took about 2 minutes. This is a case of one photographer photographing a second photographer. The following photos were taken by Hans van de Vorst from the Netherlands at the Grand Canyon, Arizona .

The descriptions are his own. The identity of the photographer in the photos is unknown.

Image: Hans van de Vorst

Look carefully at the photographer. He has a camera, a tripod and also a plastic bag, all on his shoulder or in his left hand. Only his right hand is available to grab the rock and the weight of his stuff is a problem. He lands low. Both his right hand and right foot are slipping. At that very moment, I take this shot. He then pushes his body against the rock, waits for a few seconds, throws his stuff up on the flat rock, climbs up and walks away, presumably to a bathroom to change his shorts. I know I had to change mine and I was just watching!

The full sequence of photographs that are included in the email, along with the photographer’s description, can be seen in their original context on the flickr website.

Detailed Analysis:
The photographs that travel with this email forward depict a photographer making an apparently death-defying leap from one rocky Grand Canyon outcrop to another. The outcrops soar thousands of feet above the floor of the Canyon, and, from the viewpoint of the photographs, it seems apparent that any slip would be fatal. The leaping man shown in the photos is carrying his photographic equipment and wearing only thong sandals on his feet, making the stunt seem even more foolhardy.

The photographs are genuine and were indeed taken by Dutch photographer Hans van de Vorst. However, the photographs do not tell the whole story. The two outcrops are actually joined by a rock ledge that cannot be seen in the photographs. If the leaper had slipped, he would have probably landed, relatively unscathed, or at least alive, on this ledge rather than plummeting thousands of feet to the canyon floor. Another photograph of the same outcrops taken from a different angle clearly shows the connecting ledge.

Moreover, others have also taken the leap. Another photographer, Dana Watson, captured a shot of Ron Toms performing the same stunt. An FAQ about Ron’s leap includes more photographs showing the rock ledge.

Regardless of the hidden rock ledge, the photographs are truly spectacular. Even with a ledge, these leaps are certainly not for the faint of heart and could still be very dangerous.

Last updated: 16th August 2011
First published: 16th August 2011
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

flickr: Cliffhanger
Hans van de Vorst
flickr photo: Grand Canyon 101
Ron at the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon Leap of Death FAQ

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,