Meet the star of a new urban exploration series, Elaina Hammeken

01 August 2016 - 17:43 By Sefiso Hlongwane
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Starting today, viewers around the world will have the chance to view the jaw-dropping perspectives of today’s new urban adventurers with the premiere of all eight episodes of Urbex on Red Bull TV.

Urbex stands for urban exploration, and those with a fear of heights may want to binge carefully as the most daring and charismatic urban explorers infiltrate areas like a dazzling skyscraper in Dubai and a guarded bridge high above Moscow to share the heart-stopping views – as well as deeply personal stories that explain why, and how, they live life on the edge.

Urbex’s urban explorers come from every walk of life and every country on Earth, but importantly, it's not just men.

Denmark's Elaina Hammeken is a former contestant on America's Next Top Model, and she is set to bring a high level of style and glamour to the male-dominated world of urban exploration.

Speaking to TMG Entertainment, Elaina revealed that she was inspired to join the world of urbex after being exposed to Anders G, one of the head honchos of the sport in Copenhagen.

''I had stumbled across Anders G's Instagram profile with urbex photos from all around Copenhagen," she said.

"Since then I had looked for silhouettes on the roofs and tried to figure out  how they got up there. Eventually Anders agreed to let me tag along and from there I was hooked."

While admitting that she's usually most afraid before climbing anything at all, she explained that all it takes is a fine balance between planning and timing.

"The locations aren't always open or won't be open long, so ideally you'd love to have all the time in the world to plan, but if you plan too long, you will have planned for nothing.

Other times, the weather's perfect, but security is there, or the other way around. As a surfer, I've gained a huge respect for the power of Mother Nature, so that, especially in Copenhagen is usually the first step."

She further pointed out that the "anticipatory anxiety'' that urbex explorers often have before embarking on a climb.

"It's that fear of the unknown and the possibility of getting caught. When I'm on the roofs, I don't do anything outside of my limits, so really for me, it's not scary at all," she revealed, adding that she looks to her past to help her overcome the anxiety that comes with the rush of climbing.

"I always think back to a time when I was a child. I was climbing the tallest pine tree in the neighborhood, breaking a few branches on the way up, and when I had to come down I was stuck. Fear and panic took over, my heart began to race and I began questioning my every move.

"After yelling to my friends to get my parents, I realised there was little even they could do. I took a deep breathe, cleared my head, analysed the situation and made a plan. I had to jump and hope the branch would hold. A careful planning and a little courage was all it took before I was making my way down as usual. Whenever I'm afraid of anything, going to a new place for the first time, meeting someone new, anything, everyone is a little afraid, but I think back to that time in the pine tree and realise I'd still be in the tree today. It's always the first step, the first move that's the scariest," she explained.

In cities such as Dubai, Moscow, Toronto and Melbourne, episodes go beyond the excitement of urban exploration as viewers get to know these fascinating personalities in-depth, listening in on revealing conversations and even meeting family members to learn about their backgrounds, their personal triumphs and tragedies, and what drives them to pursue the unimaginable.

"I actually got to climb the Franklin building my first day here in South Africa for the #urbexlive event with Red Bull ZA.

"To see my first South African sunset amidst the city skyline was beyond words. Joburg is an unbelievably beautiful city with so many places to be explored, I'd say there isn't anywhere here I wouldn't want to explore!" Elaina said, as she gushed over her experience in the country.

In addition, she claims her other best urbex moment was when she took on the heights alone for the first time.

"I had needed Anders help to get up the drain pipe the first time and I didn't know if I could do it on my own. I was afraid to end up stuck or worse. I had always had the comfort of a friend to help me out of any situation, but this time the only person was myself.

"It took a couple tries, but that feeling when I pulled myself up, there really is no better feeling; especially after my snowboard accident when I questioned whether or not I would even be able to walk on my own ever again," she recalled.

To those who wish to pursue the sport of urban exploration, Elaina advices that you should be wary of your limits.

"Urbexing isn't about doing the craziest things in the craziest places, it's about checking behind that locked door and realising it's never been locked at all. It's about having new experiences and conquering that fear of the unknown. So get up, get out, explore!"

Urbex premieres on demand with all episodes available at once on August 1, 2016 – only on Red Bull TV. Tune in to redbull.tv or download the app or connect via your Smart TV.

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