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