Urban Explorer Elaina: It is all happening in your head!


Elaina Hammeken

We had the great opportunity to interview Elaina Hammeken, an American Urban Explorer living in Copenhagen right now, to ask her about the fascination of “Urbexing”. The new Red Bull TV series “Urbex – Enter At Your Own Risk“, that started on the 1st of August, brings us a little closer to her fascinating world. It is all about overcoming your inner fears, physical as well as mental obstacles and getting out of the routine we are stuck in each and every day. It is a tough challenge for the body, but an even bigger task to overcome mental barriers. Are you an Urbexer, too?

IBS TEAM: Elaina, what is it that makes Urban Exploring so tempting to you?

Elaina: There wasn´t one special reason for me to start urbexing, but there are so many reasons for me to keep doing what I do and that makes urbexing such a fascinating, exciting and at the same time really calming thing to me. Of course, the physical challenge is always a big part of it – I’ve got my roots in snowboarding, so overcoming not just mental but also physical barriers was always what I wanted. Extreme is just what people see, but there is much more to it than just doing an extreme activity.

IBS TEAM: You said that it calms you down. Could this be a reason that got you to urbexing?

Elaina: Definitely one of them! The tranquility I feel the moment I reach a spot or the top of a building is breathtaking. It puts me right in that moment of absorbing everything without thinking about certain things. It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten what that feeling is…

IBS TEAM: What are you trying to say?

Elaina: When was the last time you could really absorb every detail of your surroundings, every moment at a beautiful place? We always wonder what it must look like, but never take the opportunity to go there. I think society puts us in situations that keeps us kind of grounded.

IBS TEAM: There are different ways to achieve personal freedom through sports, traveling or an adrenaline rush – what is your drive finding your personal happy place?

Elaina: Seeing that there is so much more out there in the world to discover and stepping up my mental game by just overcoming my mental barriers. I don´t think about how I get up to a rooftop or a crane, to be honest. It is more about how to focus your mind. I want to inspire others with what I am doing, giving them the opportunity to see how great it is to finally go to that spot they always wanted to see from a perspective they choose.

IBS TEAM: Let´s talk about perspectives a little more. Your pictures show us unique perspectives, is taking pictures an essential part of urbexing?

Elaina: I get a little stressed out from time to time, because I want to make sure that the rest of the world can have this view and hold on to it, too. Photography is a always important if you want to inspire others, capturing your moments with the lessons learned that day, so I can always recommend to anybody who wants to explore his or her city to take a camera or at least your smartphone with you and hold on to that moment.

IBS TEAM: Which makes Urban Exploring accessible to anyone?

Elaina: Yes, I think everybody can urbex at any time and any situation everyday. You know, urbexing means getting out of your routine by exploring things and places you always wanted to go or see from another angle. It does not necessarily have to be unbelievably physically exhausting, it is just about going that one step further, that one inch you have to go or climb to exit your comfort zone and put you on a test. Whether you want to see it as a workout or not is totally up to you, as long as you leave those daily boundaries that keep you from feeling and experiencing new things and views at different spots in the city.

The pulse gets faster, your heart is racing and you are breathless: Urban Explorers are always on the look-out for public but non-accessible places to produce captivating images of dizzying perspectives. Check out their stories in the new documentary series “Urbex – Enter at your own risk”.

In eight episodes of 44 minutes each, the documentary series follows nine protagonists how they explore Dubai’s skyscrapers, the famous cable-stayed bridge of Moscow and other forbidden places and lead to conditions of extreme experiences of life. But who are those Urban Explorers? Where does their motivation to achieve the unthinkable and to take such risks come from? In “Urbex”, viewers can feel authentic perspective and watch interviews through unique point-of-view materials and they also get an insight into the personalities of the protagonists, their stories, family background, personal ups and downs.

IBS TEAM: How fast is the Urban Explorer community growing? 

Elaina: We have huge communities around the world and they are still growing and attracting a lot of new urbexers every year. The community is very welcoming to all the new guys out there – very international, or let´s put it like this: we are one big community without any nationalities. So many of my urbexing friends come from different parts in the world to visit and explore other parts of the world. We are everywhere and we come from everywhere.

IBS TEAM: Sounds like an awesome community! What are your next travel plans?

Elaina: There is still a lot to explore in Copenhagen. It is such an amazing city with old and modern aspects of great architecture! Besides that, I just want to travel more often and go to a lot of places some of my friends within the urbexing community recommended to me. I see loads of awesome places on Instagram accounts that I can’t wait to explore!

IBS TEAM: We talked about inner fears and places you want to travel to in the future. How about your fears and limits?

Elaina: Every human being has limits, I guess. I limit myself before I even go up a building or down a construction pipeline by understanding that I myself am making the decision to go there or not. I know what I am capable of doing, so you won’t see me doing a handstand at a ledge of a crane or a pull-up hanging from some bar a couple of hundred meters above the ground. Well not yet, because my physical capabilities restrain my actions. However, before all that, my mind tells me to do something if I want to do it or not. I think that your mind has to come first to understand your body completely.

IBS TEAM: Do you have specific safety measures when you go urbexing?

Elaina: Sure, everyone of us has them. Even the more extreme urbexers make sure that there is at least one safety while climbing up a dangerous spot. For the couple of seconds of adrenaline and crossing the line once more, they are without a real safety, yes, but there is always a point of contact. Sometimes three points, sometimes two points but never no contact at all.

IBS TEAM: How do your preparations look like before you go out urbexing?

Elaina: Most of the time it’s all about communicating to other urbexers or researching the place where you want to go on Google Maps. It is also a lot about improvising, though. I see a place during the day and I know I am going to climb up there tonight or at least find a way to get up there, which might take two to three times going there and checking it out.

IBS TEAM: How do you prepare your body for the adventures anyways?

Elaina: I get so many questions about how I prepare myself physically, but it is still so much more important to be focused and ready on your mind. Besides, I was always an active person! I wanted to be a professional snowboarder until I got a really heavy knee injury a couple of years ago and I always loved to go out and be active!


You have to know how your mind adapts to certain situations by fearing your fears. It’s like it is in real life, too – once you crossed that line, the ball starts rolling.

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    Elaina Hammeken


    Urbexing is the best thing that happened to me! Life is all about getting new experiences and finding things that will may put you in difficult situations from time to time, but by overcoming those difficulties and stepping outside of your personal barriers, can give you a great amount of freedom and overwhelming feelings.