The Maddest Bird in the Sky

Graham Dickinson

"The Maddest Bird in the Sky"

"When people get worried about the things I do, I usually tell them don't worry, don't worry about me, you just worry about yourself and what worries me I'll be concerned with that and you be concerned with what worries you”

What started out as the opening act of a series of articles into the life of Graham Dickinson, a light introduction to his motivations, techniques, personality, background etc, proved ultimately to be the final chapter as well. A few short weeks after interviewing him for the first time and having made his way back to Tianmenshan in Hunan to explore the mountain on his own with the aim of opening new exit points, his body was discovered at the base of Yuhu Peak.

That following day during the very late evening of the 27th January, New Year's eve, I watched as a litany of fireworks and firecrackers set the streets and sky of Beijing ablaze with a myriad of colour and explosion. In stark contrast to this epic outpouring of joy there was one particularly iridescent soul that was laying wrapped in darkness, in the refrigerated confines of a hospital morgue in Hunan. One that would never spark again, whose smile would no more illuminate whose company it was invited to grace. Graham died alone, in a place thousands of kilometres from his friends and family. Nobody saw him jump and his body was untouched for hours until the search and rescue crew found him, having been alerted by friends who tried in vain to contact him upon his non-appearance at where he was staying in the nearby town of Zhangjiajie. As a winter chill enveloped the body of this enigmatic young man from Toronto, the flame of another passionate and beautiful soul was extinguished from this world by way of one of its deadliest sports. Conversely, the celebrations ongoing within the country can also be viewed as a marker for the way that Graham lived his life. It's not only a sadness at the tragedy of his passing that is marked but also very much a resonating sense of the extraordinary in what he experienced and accomplished. While millions in this city and hundreds of millions across China celebrated the transition from one year to another with prayers and wishes for more prosperous times ahead, my thoughts were very much with this young man and also of an ideal that pervades the sport at its core.......

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Graham Dickinson