The world lost a special person this week. Johnny Strange, the 23-year-old extreme adventurer from Malibu, California, died while wingsuit BASE jumping at the Gitschen Peak in the Urner Alps in Switzerland on Thursday, according to reports from Blick.
Twitter quickly filled with emotional remembrances of the well-liked Californian, with many expressing admiration for how John lived his life and condolences for his family.
Johnny Strange was a thoroughly-experienced BASE jumper and extreme adventurer. He was the youngest person to ever climb all seven highest summits on each continent: Everest in Asia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Kosciuszko in Australia, McKinley in North America, Aconcagua in South America, Vinson Massif in Antarctica, and Elbrus in Europe. John completed the feat when he was just 17-years-old, beating out former record holder Samantha Larson of Long Beach, who set the record when she was 18, as reported by ABC.
John Strange was the second person to lose their life BASE jumping at Gitschen this year. Fellow American Damian Hrdlicka died jumping at the same peak, from a height of 2,000 meters, on July 10. Hrdlicka was 52-years-old, as reported by Le Matin. There have been a total of 11 wingsuit BASE jumping fatalities in 2015, according to Savemount.
Strange was also one of the youngest to reach both poles and the Everest summit, known as the “three poles.”
Further, John Strange, who perhaps not surprisingly was also known as “Daredevil,” was also an accomplished surfer, skateboarder, skydiver, motorcyclist, and sword swallower. There probably wasn’t anything that Strange wouldn’t have attempted.
YouTube is filled with videos of Strange engaging in his favorite activities. One video shows him surfing, being towed into giant waves, perhaps five or six times overhead in Nazare, Portugal. John also tow-in surfed in the giant waves of Hawaii. He grew up surfing in the Pacific Ocean at Malibu and the other Southern Californian breaks near his home.
Besides being a die-hard extreme sports professional, John Strange was passionate about social justice. When he reached the peak at Everest, Strange posted two signs. The first read “Stop Genocide” and the second read “Cure Parkinson’s.” Besides the thrill and satisfaction of such sporting accomplishments, John stated that he wanted to raise awareness and money for the two noble causes. Many of his YouTube videos began by mentioning the two causes he was passionate about.
“Everything he does is dedicated to helping raise awareness about Parkinson’s Disease and bringing about an end to genocide all over the world,” the young athlete’s website reads, “Johnny Strange is an adventurer in the truest sense of the word but he is also an avid humanitarian who is deeply passionate about the causes he supports.”
It was evident that John was more interested in pursuing adventure than he was with self-promotion. In his most recent blog post, dated August 13, 2012, made shortly before he skydived to the North Pole, he discussed his worries about parachute lines freezing and a recent skydiving mishap where one of his parachute lines broke at 3,500 feet, throwing him into an uncontrollable spin. He was forced to cut the line and deploy his reserve chute. He then wrote about juggling mid-term exams with the logistics involved in getting his parachute repaired and not being able to jump again before heading off to the North Pole.
“I know some people think what I do is irresponsible because of the risk,” Strange wrote, finishing his most recent blog post, with regard to his North Pole jump. “But the day I let my fear deter my ability to follow my dreams, I have already died. I will, as well as everyone else die someday, but on this day, I was more alive then I had ever been before.”
[Screenshots Courtesy Strangeworld01 / YouTube]