By Zach O’Brien
As Jay Briggs stands on a log perched 70 feet above the water in the middle of Oregon’s Koosah Falls, you can hear the fear enter his voice. “What the (bleep) am I doing? I’m standing on a (bleeping) log over a (bleeping) waterfall.”
Then, Briggs calms his voice, walks up the edge of the log, and says “this is going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” He jumps, performing a slow rotating forward-motion flip, landing with his feet perfectly hitting the water. It’s a graceful dance in the air that soothes the soul and inspires imagination.
This is the type of unadulterated action you see in Flow State – Into the Mind of a Freestyle Cliff Jumper, a recently released film by Nick Coulter, showing the lives of the dedicated cliff jumpers living in Northern California. The movie dramatically follows the lives of these thrill-seekers, including Nick Coulter (@croulter), Robert Wall (@robert.wall), Jay Briggs (@brggsy), Travis Sims (@travissims), Alex Shirley (@alexsquirrely), Brandon Beck (@brandonnbeck), Chase Reinford (@adrenaline.addiction), and Rainhard Riede (@riede94).
Each jumper is different, with their own brand of style and grace. With each unique styles, they’ve created a massive online following, mostly on Instagram and YouTube, where they highlight their crazy stunts to their hundreds of thousands of fans.
If you’ve heard of Coulter before, he’s the man who famously cliff jumped off Burney Falls, which is illegal due to its danger. Coulter was slapped with a fine, but will now live as one of the few people who’s survived the jump:
Much of the film takes place in the Pacific Northwest, with the group hitting waterfalls all over Oregon and Washington, but most of the locations in the movie are in Northern California. From Tahoe to Burney Falls, the cliff jumpers see nearly every corner of the area, with one of the best scenes in the film this crazy scene from McCloud Falls:
Here is our favorite scene from Flow State, an inside look into the lives of professional cliff jumpers in Northern California. The film follows around @croulter, @robert.wall, @brggsy, @travissims, @alexsquirrely, @brandonnbeck, @adrenaline.addiction and @riede94 as they search for new adventures and push their sport to the limit. For our full review and to watch the entire movie, check out the link in our bio. . . . . . . . #activenorcal #cliffjumping #cliffdiving #norcal #northerncali #northerncalifornia #mccloudfalls #extremesports #adventure #adventurers #extreme_wildlife #clifflife
They’ve caught the attention of the public many times, including segments on the Travel Channel and this clip on Fox News:
Their passion is standing on the edge of a 150-foot cliff, overlooking a roaring waterfall and fearing that significant injury or worse could be moments away. It’s that fear and overwhelming intensity that keeps this group of enthusiastic adventure-seekers always wanting more.
With everything I do I strongly believe in quality over quantity. When I’m older I want to look back at every single project I have ever created and have it put a smile on my face. My goal is to make it timeless! Videography is art that shouldn’t be rushed. I will never produce content for the sole purpose of keeping my subscribers fed. Busting out an edit every week will inevitably lean you toward quantity over quality. With that being said there is a reason this movie has taken me over a year. I have carefully gone through every single clip countless times making sure it’s absolutely how I envisioned it to be. There is always more to learn with videography and I am sure later down the road I will find some minor errors in this film as I continue to perfect this passion, but I am confident when I watch this movie when I am a grandpa, it will put a smile on my face. That’s what makes videography special to me. Capturing our greatest memories and turning it into art! To all my close friends who gave such excellent interviews and hucked their brains out for this movie I love you! Now get them tickets for April 7th! In my bio! 🎥
And once you jump off that cliff, your body smoothly flailing in the air and not knowing exactly what your landing will be like, that’s what they call the “Flow State”. Your mind shuts off and your body takes control, giving you a feeling of intense euphoria, the likes of which cannot be matched.
“It’s where the subconscious part of your body just takes over and tells your body what to do,” explained Shirley.
“Fear completely turns off and your true human reaction shines through,” added Sims.
Each jump presents its own set of challenges, with the height of the cliff to the depth of the water, every move must be carefully planned. To the displeasure of the frightened public, these cliff jumpers are showing the world how to push the limit, while using the best safety practices out there in order to survive. They use an array of cliff jumping safety rules every time they jump:
- Always check the depth of the water. Even if you’ve jumped off the cliff a 100 times, there’s many variables that can change the situation of the landing.
- Be a good swimmer and in many cases, where a life jacket.
- Have a spotter down in the water to check on the jumper after they land.
- If the conditions aren’t perfect, just say no.
The media portrays cliff jumping in a bad light for its raw danger, but with years and years of training and body conditioning, these athletes are no different than any other professional extreme athlete. They continuously work on their craft and keep their bodies in tip-top condition year-round.
Amateur or intoxicated cliff jumpers continue to make a bad name for all cliff jumpers, injuring themselves and decrying the sometimes dangerous sport. But these enthusiasts have found support and enthusiasm among their cliff jumping community and plan to continue to push the limit.
Watching these athletes talk about the sport of cliff jumping feels like the beginning of a brand new, mainstream extreme sport. They talk about using techniques from other extreme athletes, like skiing and snowboarding, in order to master their tricks.
In the end, these aren’t the famous professional extreme athletes like Shaun White and Tony Hawk. They live modest lives, hoping to one day cash in one their sheer passion and dedication to this under-the-radar sport.
Like the extreme pioneers before them, these thrill-seekers will continue to do what they love in order to push the limit. The Flow State is not only a look into the lives of cliff jumpers, but rather a look what humans are capable of with enthusiasm and a whole lot of guts.
Without further ado, here is the entire film – Flow State – Into the Mind of a Freestyle Cliff Jumper:
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine