Extreme sports legend comes to Cullowhee


Gadd spoke with a group at the Rock Wall in the CRC Thursday afternoon - Photo by Joseph Moon

Red Bull athlete, Will Gadd, is an ice climbing Winter X-Games champion, record braking distance paraglider and producer of extreme sports films. Having been chosen as the third Red Bull athlete in North America, his resume epitomizes the Red Bull brand.

This 45-year-old from Canmore, Alberta, Canada proves through his accomplishments and lifestyle his dedication to extreme sports. He once climbed an ice wall for 24-hours straight, reaching close to 25,500 feet for charity. Why does he live this lifestyle?

“We take risks in life for lots of things. It’s funny, because the riskiest thing out of them all is childbirth. We take this risk for what? For this beautiful thing,” said Gadd, positioning his arms like holding a baby. “You have to figure out what you want, and what risks you’re willing to take.”

Red Bull student brand manager, Zach Heaton, invited Gadd to the WCU campus.

“I heard he was in the area, and I knew we had such a special outdoor community here. It just worked out,” said Heaton. “I’m pretty stoked. He’s a really cool, relaxed guy. He is all about helping others. This is a unique experience for everyone to get to hear what he has to say. He’s super legit.”


Will Gadd is known for his extreme sports abilities Photo by Christian Pondella

About 15 years ago, Gadd paraglided across the entire United States. One of the landing points was Jackson County airstrip because it was the only place he and his team could land in the whole area.

“I didn’t even know [WCU] was here! I made full circle; I’m back and it’s really nice to be here,” said Gadd.

March 29, Gadd spent time advising Park and Recreation students. He later coached a group at the rock wall in the Campus Recreation Center.

“I really like teaching, and this has been a fun group of people. They’re excited and motivated. Some of them are farther along than others, but they’re all having fun and a good time,” said Gadd. “A lot of people really helped me when I was learning to climb, so I feel like I have a debt to the teaching world. I try to fill it by doing this sort of thing.”

Gadd assisted Base Camp Cullowhee in teaching a kayak roll clinic Thursday evening - Photo by Joseph Moon

Gadd explained how rock and ice climbing are closely related, despite the fact that ice climbing requires more equipment. He also said climbing is something everyone can relate to in a way.

“The whole motion of climbing, you know like a kid climbing up a dresser, it’s no different [than rock or ice climbing]. That’s what we do as little kids; we climb. It’s a very natural thing to do,” he said.

After the rock wall, Gadd taught a kayak roll clinic through WCU’s Basecamp Cullowhee. The seasoned paddler has been kayaking on rivers for 30 years all over the world. Ironically, his worst accident was not in the water, but when he fell on a trail hiking to the put-in.

Gadd’s sage advice for students wanting to push limit in extreme sports is, “Behind every big success there is a massive amount of disappointment. Only about 50 percent of things I set out to do, I succeed at; if that.”

To find more information about Will Gadd, go to the following links:

His Red Bull profile

ABC Story