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Ari Delashamutt on a Life in Pursuit of Adventure

10/24/17 by Emma Walker

Outdoor adventurers often spend years delving deeper into their chosen sports, slowly building up their skills and gear over several seasons and eventually taking a big plunge. Apparently, no one told Ari DeLashmutt.

"I guess I'm not much of a dabbler," he laughs.

Still, DeLashmutt (whose first name is pronounced AIR-ee) has used his signature style—that is, jumping feet-first into whatever endeavor he's thought up—to progress into more and more exciting activities.

A fourth-generation Central Oregonian, DeLashmutt grew up literally on the side of a cliff in Redmond, about 25 minutes away from his current residence in Bend. Other kids might walk to the bus stop or ride a bike to school, but not the DeLashmutt kids.

"We free soloed to and from school every day," he recalls. Once, on his way to seventh grade, DeLashmutt remembers getting stuck. As he stood on a tiny ledge 35 feet off the deck, DeLashmutt realized he couldn't easily climb up or down. Needless to say, he was a little late to class that day.

When his dad asked why he'd been late to school, DeLashmutt told him honestly.

"He was like, 'Well, don't do that again,'" DeLashmutt remembers, "I think I learned my lesson."

Ari is always up for trying something new.
    Photo courtesy of Marmot/Adam McKibben
Ari is always up for trying something new. Photo courtesy of Marmot/Adam McKibben

In fact, that's how he's learned most of his lessons in the pursuit of adventure outside: by doing. Thanks to his family of ski enthusiasts, he started skiing at age eight and was executing backflips by the time he was 12. He fell in with a crowd of people who were progressing "consciously and consistently," as he puts it, and was soon riding in competitions.

"I always joked that summer sucked and that I just wanted to ski," he says. At his peak, DeLashmutt was skiing 150 days a year. He spent summers on Mount Hood, earning his turns in the backcountry. It wasn't always easy to ski that much, but when he lost his sponsorship at Mount Bachelor, DeLashmutt kept making it happen: he headed to Big Sky in Montana to keep skiing.

"That formed how I looked at the world and how I viewed my life and my time," he says of those days.

It's also how he's funded some of his endeavors. DeLashmutt got involved with Marmot after an Outdoor Retailer Show, and the company was so excited about his plans that they helped fund a trip to Morocco, Spain, and France. But it's not just extreme sports that have kept his relationship with Marmot alive - it's his creative capacity. DeLashmutt continues to collaborate with Marmot on creative projects, including producing the newFeatherless campaign, where he was involved in highlighting and testing the final product.

The biggest victories in DeLashmutt's life haven't come from comparing himself to other people, though—it's his own progression that brings him the most satisfaction.

This determination to progress has led DeLashmutt to greater heights—literally. Just before a series of relatively snowless winters in the Pacific Northwest, he started highlining. In his typical fashion, DeLashmutt saw someone highlining for the first time and knew immediately that this was going to take up a lot of his time and energy.

"I was addicted to the same thing I was with skiing—not being better than other people, but the progression within my own life. After that," he adds, "I didn't think summer sucked so bad."

DeLashmutt on the highline at Smith Rock.
    Photo courtesy of Marmot/Sam Balyeat
DeLashmutt on the highline at Smith Rock. Photo courtesy of Marmot/Sam Balyeat

This, too, influenced DeLashmutt's view of the world around him. When he was primarily a skier, he looked out the car window and saw cliffs as jumps, and the snowy hillsides as big pillows to rip down. Now, he saw opportunities to set up highlines where no one had done it before.

One such opportunity came in the fall of 2017, when DeLashmutt rigged a new highline at Smith Rock. It took meticulous planning and logistical management to get a team of folks to the crag to set up the highline. DeLashmutt and his team showed up early to haul 55-pound packs full of rigging equipment to the site. They'd have to climb the Monkey Face, an iconic Smith pillar, to set up the highline. This meant a short free solo to an aid ladder, followed by free-hanging rappels and jugging, plus a Tyrolean traverse. It was no easy feat.

After about six hours of climbing and rigging, DeLashmutt—who learned to rig by convincing an experienced friend to teach him, of course—was ready to highline. He'd set up the line with 700 feet of webbing and a backup line, plus padding to keep the rigging from weakening as it rubbed on the rocks.

Thanks to his harness and careful rigging, DeLashmutt was safe from falling to the ground hundreds of feet below. But he didn't need it: DeLashmutt onsighted the highline. In other words, he walked 700 feet across the line, then back across, without a single fall.

Because he rigged and walked the highline first, DeLashmutt earned the right to name it.

"My great-grandparents homesteaded just west of the Monkey Face," he says, "And growing up, my mom always called me 'Monkey Boy.'" The line now pays homage to his childhood nickname: he christened it Mega Monkey. It's his longest highline to date.

Ari embraces new challenges, but is also realistic about his abilities.
    Photo courtesy of Marmot/Adam McKibben
Ari embraces new challenges, but is also realistic about his abilities. Photo courtesy of Marmot/Adam McKibben

Some folks might take time off to plan their next big thing after an accomplishment like that, but not DeLashmutt. He and his wife plan adventure travel itineraries around the world, and unsurprisingly, they're not your standard hike-and-beach excursions.

Thanks to his experience skydiving and paragliding, DeLashmutt is uniquely positioned to take travelers to new heights in their chosen locations. He's flown in 11 countries on four continents and has accumulated his flight hours at about five times the rate of the average pilot.

"Paragliding kind of broke my brain in a way that nothing else had before," he explains. "For the first time, I switched from having this personal progression to having purely surreal experiences."

That's part of the beauty of paragliding in another country, DeLashmutt says. "Taking your sport to another country is the skeleton key of experience. Everywhere you go, if you take your sport, you connect with people in a way you wouldn't otherwise."

It's that connection between adventure sports and philosophy that drives DeLashmutt. If you want to paraglide for years to come and not get hurt or killed, he explains, "you have to be real with yourself about your skills."

"With both philosophy and paragliding," he explains, "it's really hard to run away from the consequences of your actions. There are tons of excuses, but having self-knowledge and structuring how you think is the ultimate human progression."

To learn more about DeLashmutt and his adventures, visit AriintheAir.com.

Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.