Adriatic Circle Day 27: de Dorlodot injured

Here’s the latest from Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer as they cross Italy.
By Tarquin Cooper

Saturday, July 26, 14:00

Bad news late last night. Tom de Dorlodot has had a crash landing, and suffered serious injuries, although not life-threatening.  Read more about what happened here in our interview with Tom, who called from the hospital bed in Lugano, Italy.

Further updates will come as more information comes in.

Friday, July 25, 14:00

All we know is the guys are flying, and that's good! How do we know? Duh, our live tracker tells us. While we don't have much more news than that, we finally got a hold of a few smartphone pics that have been trying to make their way to us through bad cell phone service. Say hi to Chriegel the Eagle, and check out the view from above!

If we get any news later today we'll update, but if not, stay tuned for a daily post over the weekend as the guys continue to fly east. Fingers crossed for good weather and mega-high cloudbase!

Not a bad sight to see
A view through the clouds... © Tom de Dorlodot
Not a bad sight to see
One of the few men who could chase them down! © Tom de Dorlodot

Thursday, July 24, 18:00

With technical issues mostly resolved, Tom and Paul have been moving forward in Switzerland, heading almost directly east, towards Grossglockner, the next turnpoint. See exactly where they are here!

They've got quite a way to go – but big mountains and big valleys are the paragliding version of a super high-way. If the weather is good, they'll be able to step on the gas and do it quick!

Wednesday, July 23, 18:45

Uh-oh, we're experiencing technical difficulties! A quick update on our live tracker – damage to Paul's tracking device means it looks like he's hanging far behind Tom, but we assure you, that's not the case!

Both of the boys have picked up some big flights today, moving east through the valleys towards the next turnpoint. They're in the air at the moment, so we'll update when they land and give us some news – but from what we can gather from their Facebook pages and live tracking, they're having a great day! 

Paragliding flight action from day 23 of Red Bull's Adriatic Circle adventure.
Down the valley they go... © Paul Guschlbauer

Tuesday, July 22. 19:00

Quick update from Tom via Whatsapp: “Not much happening. We're on the long walk from Charrat to Sierre... I walked this twice already during Red Bull X-Alps – just in the other direction! Just turn your brain off and walk... But there might be a possibility to fly tomorrow. We're near a launch!” How do they know? Well, they asked the local expert – Chrigel Maurer, reigning X-Alps champion. “Paul called Chrigel earlier today,” says Tom. “He's supposed to call back and tell us where to sleep tonight!”

In the meantime, we've got a new edit up from some of the footage the fellas have sent us. First, see where they are on the live tracker, then click the link directly below to see the new video!

Monday, July 21, 21:00

Three seconds – that's how close Tom de Dorlodot was to having a tree collapse onto his head. “It's been stormy and rainy all day today,” he says. “The strong wind knocked this giant tree over, directly where I had been standing three seconds before!” Seems like he'd be safer if he was up in the air!

When a tree falls...
Yes, somebody heard this fall © Tom de Dorlodot

But as has been the story for so many days now, weather has kept the duo grounded. Having made Chamonix yesterday, they've been hiking, briefly joined by friends as they trudge through muddy trails. They're still making progress, having crossed the Swiss border. Fingers crossed for a break in the rain – and no more falling trees!

Sunday, July 20, 11:00

The text from Tom came through at midnight: “Hard day today. Strong wind, and a bit of rain. Almost in Chamonix. ;-) Tomorrow for sure!”

Paul updates us that today continues with more of the same – hiking in wet conditions, but almost in the adventure hotspot near Mont Blanc, where they'll get some rest and hopefully see some familiar faces.

But in the meantime, it's the boys and the cows... follow where they are here.


Keep on moooooo-ving

Saturday, July 19, 22:30

Well, it's getting to be bedtime, the live tracker says the boys are still hiking, and we haven't heard a peep from them all day (and their Facebook pages haven't seen a post today). What does this add up to? Covering big distances in remote places. Stay tuned for our check-in tomorrow.

Flyday, July 18, 14:00

After nearly three weeks of being mostly on foot, the high-flying pair is finally doing just that: soaring as far they can. We didn't hear much from them yesterday, then in the evening we got the news: a 100km flight, making up major distance! You can see exactly where they've been (and where they are right now) on the live tracker.

70's style is cool again
Sweet 'stache, Paul © Paul Guschlbauer
This is what it feels like to get as high as Tom and Paul!
The view from 4,400m cloudbase © Paul Guschlbauer

They've been up in the air for most of the day today, as well. At 14:30 we got a text update from Tom that he'd landed high on a mountain top, but wasn't sure where Paul was – Paul's live tracker puts him climbing up a hill across the valley to the south. Hopefully they'll meet up soon and continue on! Stay tuned for daily updates over the weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 17:00

Thunderstorms kept the boys grounded for much of the day yesterday, but today has clearly been a big day in the air, as evidenced by the length of the blue lines visible on our live tracking page.

We won't have the numbers in until they land (and trust us, they won't land until they absolutely have to) but we're pretty confident saying this will go down as the biggest day yet for the Adriatic Circle, with likely more than 100km covered between hiking and flying. Hopefully, they'll also be able to send pictures soon, and we're hoping a video will be ready for next Tuesday – but in the meantime, watch the one from last week here!

Wednesday, July 16, 17:30

"There were clouds, but we didn't think they were anything we had to worry about," says Tom de Dorlodot. "But then all of the sudden, they got much bigger, very quickly, and then they opened up – it was coming down everywhere!"

Our trio (remember, they're still dragging along Ferdinand Van Schelven, ha!) made their way to the woods, where they built a fire under a shelter to wait out the storm. Post-storm, wet ground and grey skies presented poor conditions for thermal activity, leaving them with a sled ride down and short hike tonight. (Apparently, such conditions must also provide poor cellular service, as there was no 3G to be found to send us pictures. C'est la vie.)

So far, it's been about 24 hours of mis-adventures. Last night, the small mountain village they arrived at had unexpectedly little to provide in terms of food, and they scavenged some cheese and crackers from some local scouts, but went to bed (and woke up) hungry. This left them no choice in the morning but to head off track in search of sustenance, which they of course eventually found.

Van Schelven will hang around for a couple more days as they heard north towards Mt Blanc. In the meantime, don't forget, you can follow every move on our Live Tracker. See you tomorrow, hopefully with pictures!


Tuesday, July 15, 18:00

The boys are hanging out where the air is rare, as the picture below indicates! Tom also posted on Facebook that they had landed on a mountaintop and that they are making headway in the big mountains – although not very fast at the moment. Says Paul, “We've walked about 10km today, and made some flights – but the cloudbase has been low, so we haven't been able to make big ones.”

See exactly where they are at with the Live Tracking.

#shirtlessselfie? This isn't Jersey Shore, Paul! © Paul Guschlbauer

Despite the smile above, our 17:30 check in call was answered in the not in the best of moods: “We're stuck at the top, waiting for the clouds to clear,” says Paul. If they do, and the boys get two more glides in, they'll easily attain a 40km day. But no matter what, conditions will improve as the week goes on – so stay tuned as the team, now temporarily joined by buddy Ferdinand Van Schelven – presses forward!

Monday, July 14, 18:00

Surprises aren't always your favourite thing on long-distance journeys, but this was a good one: Tom and Paul got chased down by their buddy and fellow X-Alps competitor Ferdinand Van Schelven, who will be joining them for a few days as they head into familiar territory. “We've finally arrived in bigger mountains,” says Paul. “But the wind is strong and the clouds are low – but the weather is getting better throughout the week!” The company of their friend – Tom and Paul both have hiked with Van Schelven before – will surely be some wind beneath their wings. (Too much? OK, too much.) Anyhoo, there's big hopes for big flights soon.

Paul, Ferdinand and Tom
Ferdinand Van Schelven chases down the boys © Paul Guschlbauer

The plan for this evening is first to find food – they've got one more village ahead of them, and it will definitely be a 40km day. After that, they may press on to attain a better position for take-off tomorrow. In the meantime, Paul has been shedding weight – he's just chucked his third pair of socks, as he finds he only needs two. “I wear a pair, wash them that night, then switch to the other pair while they dry, and repeat!” he says. We're just not sure what he's going to do when he wears a hole in them, which is bound to happen sooner rather than later. Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow, and don't forget to check in on the Live Tracking page.


Sunday, July 13, 19:00

You know what's great about the Adriactic Circle's live tracking system? Even when Tom and Paul are too deep in the mountains to get our text messages asking for an update, we can still get an idea of what they're up to. For instance, today we know that they got into the air (albeit briefly) and gave their legs a rest.

Update: We did just get a text from Paul! Here's what he has to say: "We left the sea, and didn't expect a flying day at all – but when we saw a bird picking up altitude at 10:30 in the morning, and we saw a take-off, we decided to fly! It was tricky thanks to a cloud base of just 850m, and few landing spots, but it was a nice surprise on a day where we had 40km of walking planned!”

Unfortunately, bad cell phone service meant only one picture made it through our email – here it is, an epic selfie from Paul Guschlbauer! More on the way tomorrow.

Now that's what we call a selfie! © Paul Guschlbauer

The word from last night was that they hope to get to the big mountains sooner rather than later – perhaps today's flight aided them in that endeavour. The other word is that when they get better internet access, we've got some new pics on the way. We'll throw 'em up when we get them!

Saturday, July 12, 16:00

It's back to walking under the clouds (and on the asphalt) as the boys head out of Genoa. But yesterday marked two big achievements: the arrival at turnpoint 1, and surpassing 500km of travel in total.

Quite an achievement already!

Expressways on the express way to the Alps © Paul Guschlbauer

So how do these two plan on keeping themselves entertained over the planned 45km per day of walking they'll be doing for the next four days? Well, apart from each other's company (which they claim they're enjoying!), tunes will help. Paul's been listening to Monkey Safari, while Tommy D's been tuning in to the Crystal Fighter's 'At Home' - “It gives me power!” he says!

Friday, July 11, 15:00

You could hear cars whizzing by in the background as Tom de Dorlodot answered the phone, just an hour away from the city of Genoa. Mountain hiking it wasn't – but as you can see below, the view wasn't too shabby!

Follow the Live Tracking here

The Red Bull Adriatic Circle adventure is close to reaching Genoa, Italy.
Genoa is getting close © Paul Guschlbauer

"It was a short day today," said Tom. "Only about 30km! But the tough part is everyone here is on vacation, laying on the beach, while we walk by carrying giant backpacks!" Of course, when they arrive in Genoa, they'll take a dip in the sea before having some food and getting some rest.

A photo of the Italian coast near Genoa taken by Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer during their Adriatic Circle adventure.
Oceans below © Paul Guschlbauer

They'll spend most of the evening analysing and discussing the plan for the next two days, for which there are two major options: walk straight to the big mountains by going along the road, or take a chance and try and fly in some lower mountains nearby.

The Adriatic Circle hike and fly trek passes by the beaches south of Genoa, Italy.
Tempting, very tempting © Paul Guschlbauer

The first option, four days of walking, will get them into France, a couple hundred kilometres south of Mt Blanc, the next turnpoint, with a big bonus: familiar territory where they can put up some air time.

Thumbs up! © Paul Guschlbauer

But in the meantime, it's more 'robot mode', as Tom puts it. "You plug in the headphones, turn on the music, then just walk for 12 or 13 hours at a time. You stop when you need food or water."

And how does the body respond? Like a rubber band. Although he's suffering from some blisters (we saw pictures – they're not much!) his legs and body feel well-recovered after every night of sleep. "You get used to it. The body knows what it's got to do!"

Thursday, June 10, 10:00 AM

We received a very pleasing picture from Tom and Paul this morning – a view of the sea, just as they've crossed from eastern Italy to western Italy, finishing up their trip in the Apennine Mountains.

They're currently at 700m above sea level, hoping to take off soon – a nice long flight would greatly aid them in their goal of reaching Genoa by tomorrow evening, which is approximately 100km away. If the past few days is any indication, they'll probably be celebrating with a big meal – or two. Remember, you can follow them on the live tracking page here.

It's fine to see the sea! © Tom de Dorlodot

Hopefully, sunny conditions will give the guys a chance to record some new video using their Garmin VIRB cameras during the flight – meanwhile, you can check out their first video from the trip here.

Wednesay, July 9, 18:00

When you're logging dozens of klicks a day on foot (you can find out how many here!) there's only one reward: food. And on Tuesday, Tom and Paul walked so far they had to have dinner twice. "We stopped for pizza in the early evening, then after about another 12km, ended having another dinner – one of the best pieces of meat I've ever had in my life!", says Paul.

It's not surprising, considering how much walking, hiking and bushwhacking they've been doing – they need the calories. "The first four or five days, the body doesn't want that much food, but after it realises how much energy you're using, you start taking every opportunity to eat!"

What's on the plate (figuratively speaking) for the next couple days? 100km or so to Genoa. There's a few hills on the way, but any serious flight time is unlikely to occur. In the meantime, the attitude remains positive – says Paul, "We're having a great time!" Oh, and don't forget to check out the POV video from the trip!

Tuesday, July 8, 18:00

Rain rules the day again – but it's not dampening the spirits of our intrepid duo. “We knew from the beginning this would be the hardest part of this trip,” said Tom in a fuzzy, static-filled phone call this afternoon. 

While the two pilots had been friends prior to the start of the trip, this was their first trip adventure together. Fortunately, there's been little for either to whine about. “Paul and I get along great, and have been working really well together analysing the route, the weather and making decisions. We're on a no-regrets learning process!”

The wisdom of two minds has been beneficial in dealing with sketchy, windy conditions, as shown in Paul's video below.

As of 17:00, they've covered about 25km (follow them on our Live Tracking page) and Tom has taken over 28,000 steps according to his pedometer. They'll hope to do another 10km towards Genoa later tonight.

A big mental hurdle they've got to get over is the slow going on foot – they've had days where they've walked 36km over road, but only covered 19km as the paraglider flies. While weather doesn't look good over the next few days, the big mountains are getting closer. Says Tom: “There we'll be able to put up some really big flights!”

Monday, July 7, 18:00

As is often said, no news is good news: Tom and Paul are either so deep in the mountains or so high in the air that we haven't been able to get in touch via phone or text for this afternoon's update! We're taking that as a sign that they're moving quickly in the right direction. Tom's note this morning (9:30am, European time) indicated they were hoping to spend much of the day in the air.

In the meantime, Paul Guschlbauer was happy to get in the air yesterday after 30km of walking, even if it was a bit cloudy. The indication is bad weather is on the way – hopefully the guys will find a way to stay warm.

Lacking a good update, here's a highlight from the live tracking page – the team has covered 366km so far. Stay tuned for more news – and hopefully some video – in the following days!

Sunday, July 6, 18:00

The guys were pretty knackered when they got to Florence on Friday night. "Feet and legs hurt a lot," Tom told us.

Saturday was another long day on foot, with the pair reaching Pistoia, but the hope was that by the end of today they'd be in a position that offered much better flying conditions.

"Movitation is high but it's still a very long way to go," Tom added. "We have to focus on staying fit and healthy and getting some airtime soon. We can't wait to get the gliders out."

The boys were unavailable when we tried to reach them Sunday evening. At last... they'd managed to get in the air. Let the flying time begin!

Saturday, July 5, 19:00

Tom and Paul made it to the famous Italian city of Florence late last night, which wasn't part of their original plan. The choice was either to stick to the hills and risk no take-offs, as in previous days, or take a more southerly route that offered no hills but would get them to bigger mountains more quickly. Hopefully the gamble will pay off. “We hope we'll be one day faster getting to higher ground by this route,” says Paul. But it means a bit more time hiking unless a favourable southwesterly wind offers the chance to fly. “We're looking forward to being able to go a bit faster when we reach the longer ridges,” Paul adds. Until then, more plodding.

Paul Guschlbauer points to Florence © Paul Guschlbauer

Friday, July 4, 18:00

After hanging out at a take-off above Pietrapiana, Tom and Paul have just managed a short flight. Their goal? Firenze. The strong headwind only allowed them to get approximately 10 of the 25 km towards Firenze however. "It's super hard to navigate in these mountains," says Tom. "Crazy stuff!" Remember, you can see exactly where the team is on the live tracking page.

In the meantime, you can check out the gear the guys have brought along on their journey. With such a long distance to travel by human and wind power alone, it was important to cut down on bulk – even going so far as to trim extra fabric off of their harnesses. What would YOU pack for a month on foot in the mountains?

Thursday, July 3, 17:00

“The legs are fine,” says Paul Guschlbauer, “but we currently have the feeling we're going in circles a bit!” Tricky terrain and a lack of viable take-offs has had the boys hunting high and low (OK, just high) to find a good spot to take to the air. (See the picture below.) After a sketchy but ultimately safe launch, they took a risk flying into the hills instead of the valley – it didn't work out, and now they're working to get back on track.


Guschlbauer continues: “The whole thing is a mental game – to stay positive is the most important!” For now, Tom and Paul are looking forward to getting out of 'the labyrinth where they forgot to put the take-offs' and heading into the familiar territory of the Alps.

Remember, to find out exactly where the team is just head over to the live tracking page – where you can also see how much distance they've covered, how much time they've spent in the air, and more!

Wednesday, July 2, 18:00

On the white line again. Wind and weather has the boys grounded, and they're being forced to make up the miles on foot. "By the end of today we will have walked about 40km," says Paul. "It's ok. So long as we're moving we'll get there. And it's really beautiful. We're confident we'll be able to pick up our speed when we get to the Alps, which we know so well."

The problem? The treeline covers all the mountain tops in the area, so there are no good take-offs and no way to investigate without killing a lot of time.

"But life is good," says Tom. And not just because of the lovely views of the Tuscan countryside – Belgium beat USA in the World Cup. Despite hiking for 14 hours the pair were able to catch the end of the game.

"Up next is Belgium vs Argentina. My girlfriend is from there, so that should be fun to watch!"

Tuesday, July 1, 18:00

We have lift-off! Tom's Facebook post says it all: 'Flying right now'. While it wasn't a long flight, the team was happy to get in the air. Current position is about halfway between Ancona and Florence, which you can see on the Live Tracking Page.

“It's not been an easy start,” Tom says as he and Paul headed down to find water and food. “The first day there was a lot of walking and yesterday it rained and rained. But today we found a good take-off. It started well but we were fighting to find thermals against the wind.”

Despite the difficulties the pair are still having a great time and enjoying settling into the adventure as they find their rhythm. “The view is beautiful here,” adds Tom “and the people are really nice.”

Tomorrow however is looking like another walking day. Only another 1,670km to go...

Monday, June 30, 18:00

The rain continues to reign! The boys were hopeful about flying this morning despite low clouds and a strong wind, but weather put a stop to that. They are on foot again and moving in wet and sloppy conditions – Tom posted this ominous looking pic below. The good news: they've reached the mountains, and when the weather clears – it's go time!

Storms in the hills are disrupting plans of flying in Red Bull's Hike & Fly adventure.
Storms in the hills on the Adriatic Circle © Tom de Dorlodot

Sunday, June 29, 18:00

Mission go! It's not the most spectacular of starts but every great journey has humble beginnings. Paul shot this selfie this morning as he and Tom headed out of Ancona, on day 1 of their epic quest. Next goal is to get up in the air. But until then, they need to keep hiking...

Paul Guschlbauer grabs a selfie on Day 1 © Paul Guschlbauer

Saturday, June 28, 19:30

We just spoke to Tom and Paul. The guys were hoping to set off at 19:30 but had some delays on the train to Ancona. They hope to arrive about 21:00.

“We're going to start by just walking out of town and find somewhere to sleep in some fields,” says Tom.

Follow Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer on live tracking as they attempt to make the longest unsupported 'hike and fly' journey.

“We have about 45km before the first mountains,” he adds. “We're hoping to get the first flight in tomorrow (Sunday) but the weather's not looking too good. There's going to be 15-20 knot winds coming from the south west which is the right direction but we're not sure it's going to be flyable.”

We'll be updating this page every day with the latest news from the trip. Got a question for Tom and Paul? Why not ask us and we'll put it to the guys.

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