PURE BLIND COURAGE
By Craig McQueen, Daily Record – 24th February, 2014.
DEAN Dunbar, 46, from Perthshire, travelled to Lauchernalp in Switzerland last month to try his hand at new sport speed riding.
BLIND daredevil Dean Dunbar has completed his latest extreme challenge – hurtling down the side of a mountain wearing skis and a parachute.
The 46-year-old from Perthshire was initially knocked back when he approached Swiss speed riding pioneer Ueli Kestenholz.
The relatively new sport is similar to paragliding but the idea is to go as fast as possible while sticking close to the mountain.
Dean said: “I asked Ueli if speed riding could be done tandem but he said it wasn’t an option as I was blind and couldn’t ski, which sounded fair enough.
“But then he came up with the solution of using snowboard bindings on powder skis, which are slightly wider. That way we could use the same set of skis.
“When he got back to me and asked if I would be up for it, I said, ‘What time do you want me at your door?’”
Dean and his GP wife Rhona, 44, travelled from Blairgowrie to Lauchernalp in Switzerland for the challenge last month.
He said: “On the first flight, Ueli asked if I could tell how close we were to the mountain and I had to tell him I had no idea.
“From then on, he would count me down from 50m to 20m to 10, five and one.
“I could feel the speed we were going at, as the wind would be blowing in my face, but knowing we were that close to the mountain really got the adrenaline going.”
Dean’s biggest fear was the landing, so he was relieved to make it back to earth safely.
He explained: “We were hitting the ground at 30mph and both of my knees are knackered from previous injuries.”
Dean’s many challenges have included swimming across the Corryvreckan whirlpool, abseiling down waterfalls and bungee jumping from helicopters.