The Man That Jumps off Mountains: Zach Carbo
Standing on the edge, literally, is Zach Carbo. This veteran BASE jumper, speed flyer, ski mountaineer, and Army Ranger navigates tricky and hair raising situations with the ease of someone who has spent the majority of his life doing these daring sports. Next Adventure had the privilege of sitting down with Zach when he came into our SE Grand ave. location in Portland, Oregon to get his ski boots custom fitted and his skies tune up by our custom boot fitter and master tuner Greg.
Zach has one of those smiles that lights up the entire room and a sense of humor that always gets the room rolling. We sat down to do a basic Q&A and ended up turning 10 questions into an hour long chat about the sports he is so passionate about, his travels, and his family. He talked about being on the cutting edge of and fighting for speed flying to become a more accepted sport at ski resorts around the US. His whole face lights up when he talks about the great extreme sport pioneers of generations past; the ground breakers that paved the way for sports like snowboarding and speed skiing to be accepted into popular culture, not realizing that he himself is also a pioneer. A pioneer of things to come and one of the voices for an all new generation of athletes pushing the limits.
A west coast transplant Zach, who is originally from the bayous of Louisiana, was living in California when he first came on a trip to Washington State. It was love at first sight and he would come back to make his home and start his family here. His home mountain is Crystal Mountain in the Cascade Mountain range and you can find him stand-up paddle boarding on Washington Rivers or kayaking out in the Puget Sound. Combining his love for travel with his love for sports he has had the opportunity to travel all over the world doing the sports that he loves.
Here’s what Zach had to say is response to our Q&A:
NA: Life is all about learning and growing, if you could go back in time and give your 21 year old self any piece of advice, what would it be?
Zach: I would encourage myself to take the time to learn more about myself. To reflect upon accomplishments and most of all setbacks. I’ve found that I have learned more about life, happiness and love in the past 5 or 6 years than I have in my entire life. It all came from allowing myself to slow down, be vulnerable and humble and to appreciate my family, friends, health and the outdoors.
NA: You're a pretty busy man these days between the Army, your family, and your adventures. How do you find balance between all of these different aspects of your life?
Zach: It really is all about balance. If you neglect any one aspect of your life, another will inevitably suffer. We have to take care of ourselves in order to stay mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. If we work ourselves to the bone and never take time for ourselves, we don’t get the release we need and we suffer and vice versa. With a family, things are even more complicated. By incorporating our individual goals, activities and adventures into the family dynamic, we are able to encourage and share these experiences with each other. This makes our family stronger and happier and in turn makes the daily grind of work that much easier to bear and leads to us being more productive. Recently my wife ran the Cascade Lakes Relay race from Diamond Lake to Bend, Oregon. We loaded up the Subaru with camping gear and our dogs and spent a week in Central Oregon exploring and following my wife’s team for the 260 mile race. It was a goal of hers and we made it a family event. It was an amazing time and are already planning next year’s race!
NA: What types of behind the scenes training do you do that keeps you in shape and ready to tackle all of life’s adventures?
Zach: Physical fitness is a big part of my and our family’s core culture. We are a very active bunch. I stay away from big, heavy weights and focus on mobility and functional fitness. It doesn’t do me any good to have a sweet beach body if I can’t manipulate my way safely up a steep pitch in the mountains or paddle my way into a wave or in a river. Trail running, cycling, rowing and hiking with a weighted pack are typical for cardio. For the rest of the body; yoga, dynamic stretching and body weight movements, and exercise are key.
NA: What is your favorite thing about Next Adventure?
Zach: I’m all about culture, personality and knowledge. Having a fun, inviting, friendly and competent staff that’s always willing to go above and beyond to meet my needs is key, so that I can have a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. Especially for those who are just starting out. Nothing will turn off a new adventurer to the outdoors more than an unenjoyable or unsafe experience. The guys and gals at Next Adventure make sure you have what you need for what you are doing. And it’s really hard to get the smiles off their faces too!
NA: How old is your son? How do you feel that your life priorities have changed since starting a family?
Zach: He will be 12 in February. Fortunate for me and our family dynamic, things haven’t really changed that much. He is a competent and skilled adventurer and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well. He has flown over 15 hours in an indoor skydiving “wind tunnel”, has been paragliding and can ski EVERY inch of our home ski area at Crystal Mountain, Washington. It will probably only be another season or two before he is the Top Dog in our family! The kid RIPS!!!! He still desperately wants to skydive, BASE jump and bungee jump. I look at my role in his life as an educator and a facilitator. I provide as much knowledge and opportunity for him to seek out and achieve whatever goals he may have.
NA: What advice do you have for those just starting out on their extreme sports journey?
Zach: Two big things: 1. Take it slow and 2. Knowledge is key!!! The mountains, rivers and oceans are very unforgiving. In any given situation or battle, Mother Nature will be the victor. Hands down. And if you come out ok, it’s because she allowed it. Everything that we do in the outdoors is our attempt to control what cannot be controlled. Learn everything you can about the activity you will be participating in and the environment you will be operating in. When you see a rad YouTube video of someone skiing a sick line or flying a wingsuit through some crack or hole in a mountain, you don’t see the hours and even days of physical and data research that goes into that one, single clip of awesomeness. Take the time and enjoy being a student of your new activity. Ask questions, be patient and learn, learn, learn. Staying safe will mean you will be able to enjoy those activities for years and years to come. Scars are cool, but dead or damaged is dumb.
NA: Where have your most recent adventures taken you?
Zach: I recently took a Western U.S. road trip from Washington, through Oregon, to Twin Falls, Idaho to BASE jump off the Perrine Bridge for a few days, then to Moab, Utah to BASE jump some amazing red rock cliffs and SUP paddle the Colorado River. After a brief detour to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I headed down to San Diego and Los Angeles, CA to wingsuit skydive with friends over the Pacific Ocean. I finished up the trip with some hiking in the hills of the San Francisco Bay Area before returning home to the PNW.
NA: Top 3 favorite pieces of gear?
Zach: Wool base layers/socks! I love natural fibers.
Down puffy jacket and a good shell! The PNW is an unpredictable region, you have to stay prepared.
Tough pants and shorts like Kuhl Rydr and Kuhl Krux (I’m REALLY hard on gear!!)
(I guess that was four. Math was never my strongest subject!)
NA: Plans for winter 2015?
Zach: I have another coast to coast road trip coming up during the month of October. I’ll be doing some BASE jumping, wingsuiting, SUP and (as long as everyone keeps doing their snow dances!!!) some early season ski turns and speed flying! Immediately after I return from that, I head to explore the huge jungle covered karst Limestone Mountains of Southern China and to jump off of a 1,300 foot bridge with 40 other BASE jumpers from around the world. Other than smearing turns throughout the Cascade Range, I’ll be heading back to the Hoodoo and Chugach ranges of Alaska for some skiing and speed flying and the 31st Annual Arctic Man Challenge! Stay tuned!!!
NA: What is the legacy you want to leave for future generation?
Zach: I would want our future generations to have running rivers, clean oceans, glacier filled mountains and a society that holds each individual accountable for their actions and not placing the blame for things elsewhere.
NA: What is the most important thing that you want to be remembered for?
Zach: I would want people to remember me for the smile I try my best to keep on my face and the positivity I try to have and share with others even in the face of adversity, hard times and windy days and low snow years! Stay positive, keep smiling and share the love of the outdoors with others and our youth!!!