A recent report found that 259 people died between 2011 and 2017 while stepping in front of the camera in often dangerous destinations. Our writer went deep on the psychology of selfies to figure out what’s behind our obsession with capturing extreme risk-taking.
t began as retribution for a lost bet: in 2014, Gigi Wu, an experienced hiker from Taiwan, posed atop a snow-covered mountain, clad only in a bikini. The stunt resulted in a series of undeniably gorgeous photos. So Wu, a model and adventure sports personality, kept at it for the next four years, photographing herself on the summits of more than 100 of Asia’s most impressive peaks, always in a bikini. The images are at once absurd and beautiful, a juxtaposition Wu told Taiwan TV that she adored.
They also appealed to followers, and according to BuzzFeed, she quickly amassed thousands of them. Fans loved the way she worked both the climbing and bikini personas and encouraged her to keep at it. Haters, meanwhile, wondered why Wu would be so stupid as to climb in scanty swimwear. Actually, she didn’t—the bikini always came along in her backpack, in addition to her satellite phone, first-aid kit, and other supplies.
This January, Wu embarked upon a solo multiday traverse of Taiwan’s Yushan National Park, home to a series of 10,000-plus-foot peaks. But while attempting a summit in the park’s central mountain range, the 36-year-old Wu fell an estimated 60 to 100 feet and landed in a remote ravine. She contacted friends with her satellite phone and reported that she was unable to move the lower half of her body. They, in turn, alerted emergency workers.
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