HummSquad Profile: Matthias Giraud
Matthias “Super Frenchie” Giraud likes to be first. As a professional skier and BASE jumper, he was the first to ski BASE jump off many peaks, including Mt. Hood in Ore., Aiguille Croche in Megève, France, the Matterhorn in Switzerland and Ajax in Telluride, Col. And that’s just the short list. It’s fitting then that Matthias was the first member selected for the Humm Squad. He’ll also be the first to tell you how much he loves kombucha: “Humm is like happiness in a bottle. I love this stuff!”
Born in Evreux, France, he now lives in Bend, Ore., with his wife and young son. That made it convenient for him to drop by Humm headquarters to talk about his passion for adventure, the power of inspiration and to share the riveting story about how and why kombucha became such an important part of his daily routine.
Matthias, what’s your happy?
My happy is doing what I’m passionate about and inspiring others to find and pursue their passion.
We all want to be happy. Yet too many people search for it instead of letting it find them. Most people already know what makes them happy. So just put yourself in a place to do it. Have the courage to do what makes you happy. You must put yourself in position to bring it all together.
I sometimes get comments in my videos like, “If I were rich I would get into BASE jumping.” They miss the point! First you have to find a way to do what you love. When that’s the priority, you can find a way.
You have a strong personal connection to Humm Kombucha. Please share your remarkable story with us.
Four years ago, I was working on a big project. At that point, I had been ski BASE jumping and ski mountaineering (I had been ski BASE jumping and big mountain skiing together for a while already) for many years and decided to mix the two. So I went to the Alps Pointe d’Areu where a friend did the first descent in 2006, which is recent for the Alps. He had to do a lot of repelling getting down. I looked at it and saw I could ski the whole thing, jump the cliff, open a parachute and fly away.
It’s a gnarly peak. It’s steep at the top, and you ski about 1,500 feet and then it cliffs out about 700 feet overlooking this valley in the Alps. It towers about 4,000 feet above the valley floor. I attempted it in January 2013 but had to turn around due to avalanche danger. I attempted the descent again on March 27, 2013. The route is located where two valleys meet, which creates crazy air currents. The weather was sketchy so we watched closely for an opportunity.
I finally found a window in the weather for one morning and started climbing about 3:00 a.m. I got to the spot around 8:00 and geared up to jump before 10:00 a.m., because that’s when the wind was supposed to pick up. I started skiing at about 9:15 and made it to the jump spot. Just before my jump the wind really picked up, but I couldn’t feel the change because I was skiing.
When I jumped off the cliff, the shifting winds caused my parachute to open sideways, so I got a line twist. Plus, I did a big front flip. After about 300 feet of freefall, my chute suddenly opened towards the cliff and about a second later I slammed into the face of it, breaking my femur and knocking myself out. I was later told by the support crew following me in the helicopter that I hit the cliff several more times. Fortunately, somehow my parachute got turned around and I floated in and out of the clouds for about four minutes. I descended 4,000 feet while unconscious before crash landing.
Now, near where I came down, there were power lines, a highway, a bunch of houses, a field and a forest. I somehow landed in the forest. Then my parachute collapsed, I fell another 50 feet into dirt and broke my femur in a second place.
During all this, the guys in the helicopter followed me through the clouds, and they assumed I was dead from the first crash against the cliffs. They thought they were basically following to see where my body would land. When they landed, they got to me and found I was still breathing and making weird noises.
Luckily, I crashed within five minutes of a fire station and also in the middle of a helicopter path. I was airlifted within 20 minutes to the hospital. An hour later I was in surgery. I had brain bleeding, a double fracture on my femur and was in a coma. I spent a few weeks in the hospital and made it home just days before my son was born.
I finally got home cross-eyed and feeling weird and woozy. I felt like I was walking in a fog because of the coma. I was planning on being super dad. Instead, my wife ended up taking care of two babies. So, I recommend not breaking your femur before the birth of your kid. [laughs]
After that, I was on a mission to recover. I hit the gym every day. I was weightlifting. I was riding hundreds of miles on the stationary bike. Whatever I could do. And that led me to natural supplements to help me build muscle. I tried some Chinese supplements but they tasted awful. I had to chase them with something! Then, during my search, I discovered a local company in Bend named Kombucha Mama, which was Humm’s original name. They were making kombucha in a local garage. I tried the Pomegranate Lemonade and was hooked. I then started mixing my supplements with the Pomegranate Lemonade!
From that point, I started getting growlers of kombucha at the garage and drinking it before and after all workouts. It was especially helpful in recovering from the coma. After that kind of head injury, you don’t feel good for a long time. You’re not sharp. You feel like you’re constantly in a fog. Drinking kombucha was a healthy jolt to the brain. I got sustained, happy, sharp energy without the letdown. I loved it!
During that time, I thought they would be a dream sponsor. Of course, they were a small company then so I didn’t think they could support an athlete. Yet it would be perfect. They were local, and it’s this healthy, organic performance product that I use every day.
Shortly after they rebranded to Humm, I started seeing bottles in stores across California while on a road trip. I see they have good distribution now and the company is growing, and that’s when I decided to approach them about a sponsorship.
When I got back to Bend, I went and met with Eric Plantenberg, Humm’s Chief Strategy Officer, and told him my story, and we hit it off right away. Eric wanted to make it happen. We made a plan, even if they weren’t completely ready to do sponsorships yet.
At first, they gave me unlimited kombucha until they could get a sponsorship plan together. And then they couldn’t get rid of me! [laughs] I was there all the time filling my growlers. That’s how our relationship started. And I became the first member of the Humm Squad. Since then it’s been part of my human adventure – the weird human who goes into the mountains with a magic backpack and a pair of skis.
“Humm is like happiness in a bottle. I love this stuff!”
What a story! Kombucha was a special part of your recovery and healing process. Now wonder it means so much to you.
It does. Now I carry kombucha wherever I go. It’s a performance drink to me. It helps get me in the right mindset when doing demanding activities.
Speaking of demanding, your big three pursuits are skiing, BASE jumping and surfing. Are there common elements connecting these three activities that make them attractive to you?
Yes, I enjoy stress and being threatened! [laughs] What they share is they are all unforgiving and demanding, yet bring a certain peace. I love the feeling of being immersed in environments both hostile and inviting. We are some kind of weird animal that evolved in a sophisticated way. I think we instinctively want to go back to our roots when survival was a constant concern, and not have our mind always busy with other things. I love the focus these activities provide.
On your website, you write that your goal is to “promote the sports of skiing and BASE jumping in a professional and humble manner to inspire human adventure.” Are you specifically trying to inspire more people to BASE jump and ski? Or is it broader than that?
I don’t pretend to be changing the world. Through my own simple means I hope to inspire people to pursue what they love. It’s simple. Passion is infectious and leads to a cycle of inspiration. If you can create in a passionate way then you can pass that on and others can benefit from it. I believe passion is the meaning of existence. It’s the driving force of my life. And if I can inspire others then I’m satisfied. It’s how I was inspired by the heroes of my youth I saw skiing the Alps.
Tell us about one of your heroes.
Shane McConkey was the first BASE jumper I ever met. He got me into it and guided me along my path. And I’m still living by his words and example: fly down mountains and fly through the air. Plus, he was a major dork like me as well! [laughs] Meeting Shane was one of the most powerful moments of my life. I’m still trying to make my own path in a McConkey kind of way. It’s that cycle of inspiration we were talking about earlier.
Where and when do you usually drink Humm? And is your favorite flavor still Pomegranate Lemonade, your first kombucha love?
As Don Juan said, “The pleasure of love is in change.” I still love Pomegranate Lemonade, and I also drink a ton of Strawberry Lemonade. And my latest favorite is Hopped Grapefruit. It’s amazing! I can’t get enough.
I drink kombucha all day long. I have some with breakfast. I drink it in the afternoons when I need a lift. And I drink it before I go to bed. When I’m heading to the mountains, I always bring a container of water and a bottle of kombucha. It’s hard when I travel abroad now because I can’t find Humm. I need to make a carry-on keg for airplanes or something! I’ll tell TSA, “I’m sorry I have a condition and must have my kombucha!”[laughs] My four-year-old son also loves it. I give a little to him every day too.
If you could personally give a bottle of Humm to anyone, who would it be and why?
As an immigrant to America, I’d like to give a bottle of Humm to another immigrant, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I respect the skinny kid from Austria who became a champion bodybuilder and governor of California. There are many things I’d love to talk with him about. When you’re a recent immigrant to America, you respect other immigrants. And I think he’d enjoy Humm.
Have a good evening @wescoughlin #hummsquad @hummkombucha #mysuperdry #thulecrew #superfrenchie
Gear prepping for spring skiing #hummsquad #hummkombucha #mysuperdry #thulecrew #superfrenchie
Gonna miss these guys! Off to Lofoten now! #hummsquad #hummkombucha #mysuperdry #thulecrew #superfrenchie
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Matthias Giraud Skier & B.A.S.E. jumper