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Prominent San Franciscans leap off Hilton Hotel for a good cause

Annual charity drop sends bigwigs plummeting

Last weekend, nearly 100 notable Bay Area residents jumped off the 46th floor of the Union Square San Francisco Hilton.

But this was all according to plan. The outdoor education non-profit Outward Bound equipped each adrenaline-addicted participant with a sturdy rappelling line before taking the plunge. Nobody was hurt. And it was all part of an annual fundraiser for Outward Bound programs aimed at low-income students.

Among those who made the leap of faith was mayoral hopeful and former San Francisco’s State Sen. Mark Leno, who had done the “Skyline Challenge” before, although never from quite such a lofty perch.

“This year we started about higher than the previous two, which were at the Hyatt Regency,” Leno tells Curbed SF.

How amazing, last week my brother Mark Leno rappelled down the side of the San Francisco Hilton, in support of Outward Bound ~ When I asked if it was scary way up there, he said it was EXHILARATING!

Posted by Jamie Leno Zimron on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Even after three descents Leno still makes the drop with a little trepidation.

“The most challenging step is just to get over the ledge. Once you’re in descent it goes a little more smoothly,” he says.

Outward Bound spokesperson Emma Rapp agrees, saying, “The hardest part is just that first moment leaning back ... once you get across and take in the view it’s really beautiful.”

A post shared by SFGATE (@sfgate) on

Even though the Hilton is twice as tall as the Hyatt, the trip down was still pretty much the same as in years past, as rappellers alighted not down to the sidewalk but instead to a lower Hilton rooftop.

Any advice for reluctant first-timers in the future?

“Lean on your courage,” says Rapp, while Leno simply advises, “Focus.”

The non-profit hoped to raise some $325,000 with 94 rappellers, but the weekend’s total actually came out to $273,31. The fundraising page remains active though, in case any more spectators want to chip in.

Outward Bound sends beneficiaries on wilderness trips that it says teach them self-reliance and leadership while also expanding their horizons and appreciation of the natural world.

“Participants spend every day outside, regardless of weather or conditions, learning how to live in the backcountry and work together,” according to their FAQ.

For those who didn’t make it to the top of the Hilton this year but are wondering what it’s like, take a gander at Instagram: