15 Jul "The Athlete Magazine"- Life in extreme
Living life to extremes seems to be Ivan Kristoff’s motto.
In everything Kristoff does, from extreme skiing, solo rock climbing, as a paraglider pilot, a rescue instructor, even as a photographer haunting high in the air by ropes suspended from helicopters, the element of danger is part of his life.
“If you’re not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space,” says Kristoff.
When Kristoff was entered mandatory service with the Bulgarian army, he had an accident from solo climbing in the Rila mountain in Bulgaria, was unconscious and has been hospitalized for a few months… enough time to re-think of how the Mountain Rescue procedures should be improve in his homeland.
In 1990, with a false passport, new name and two different airline tickets for the same plane to Cuba, Kristoff escaped from the communist regime. Two days later he was in Gander, Newfoundland
Although Canada posted no risk, Kristoff found his own.
The 27 -year-old adventurer first became known for taking pictures while climbing or scaling down rock and urbanized walls for his safety and rescue programs.
Today Kristoff is armed with permits and the government’s blessing, but during his early years, officials were not exactly his friends.
Kristoff has nabbed and warned by Collingwodd police for flying and taking pictures over Blue Mountain resort and reprimanded when caught rappelling down a Don Valley railway bridge to take pictures.
“The higher you are, the longer you’ll live when you fall,’says Kristoff, who has the scars to prove his dedication. During his last trip to Vitosha, a mountain in Sofia, Bulgaria, one of his friends was caught in an avalanche after shooting pictures of extreme skiers and died. It is those scars and other, more serious that gave Kristoff the idea to start the Canadian Rescue Emergency Service Team (CREST).
CREST is a search and rescue and urban high rise rescue non-profit organization. Its main objective, says Kristoff is to provide emergency response and post- accident investigation at inaccessible places like the outside of high rise buildings, bridges and towers.
“After a lot of accidents, such as the Skyway Bridge in St. Catherine.s, the Oklahoma bombing, because of government cutbacks and other Murphy’s Law surprises, it is more than crucial then ever to be prepared for other Mother Nature and Mr. Bad Boy accidents, “he says.