Meeting BASE Jump
Does this view trigger your craving for adrenaline? Maybe you’re totally ready to read about BASE jump. A dangerous sport that is practiced by ignoring the voices that warn about its risks, because, first off all, we need to discuss the danger: over 170 people have found their death practicing it on the last 30 years. So, yeah, it’s pretty dangerous and not regulated or endorsed by any credible institution.
But still, many adrenaline die-hards are beating the odds all around the world jumping into the void with no more than a parachute, a wingsuit and a lot of courage. BASE jump is an almost unknown sport. Its origin lies in parachuting, but its execution is a bit different. It consists of jumping from fixed objects, like cliffs or very high buildings, without the safety of an initial velocity to land by using a parachute. So, it’s only you, the wind and the right timing to deploy the equipment while the ground gradually rises up to meet you. Beyond intense, right?
Where to do it?
BASE refers to the four categories of objects from which you can jump: ‘Building’ (Structures), ‘Antenna’ (or cranes), ‘Span’ (Bridges) and ‘Earth’ (Mountains and cliffs). The height of the jumps on BASE jump goes far below that the skydiving that is normally performed over 4000 meters. An average badass birdman can jump from structures as low as 60 meters, this is why this sport is so dangerous, there’s no margin for error and there are too many things that can go wrong in one jump.
Base jumpers throw themselves into the void equipped with parachutes and suits with wings that join arms and legs, also called squirrel suits. The Swiss Alps are especially attractive for those daredevils, as they contain many jumpable rock walls. In addition to the favorable topography, Switzerland is one of the few countries with areas where this highly risky sport can be practiced without the need for special permits.
Many countries have friendly hotspots with this sport, and even have hosted competitions on the discipline. However most of these jump spots are originally conceived to other aerial sports, thanks to this, many of this places count with the logistics and infrastructure to respond in the face of any kind of emergency so jumpers can make it back -alive and well-.
Is it as Dangerous as They Say?
Judging from the statistics, the BASE jump is now safer. Records of the local rescue team of the more popular spot for this sport in the Alps, Lauterbrunnen, also known as ‘Death Valley’, claim that there were 23 or 24 accidents per year in the beginning, while now the number was reduced to 13 or 14. Annually, in the Swiss Alps only, about 20,000 BASE jumps are practiced.
But do not forget that the BASE jump is still an extreme sport, with all its dangers and those who dare to try it must be aware that, even with much preparation, there is always a certain risk; keep in mind that a BASE jumper trains to minimize the risks but never forgets that it will always be out there. It is possible that a jumper who has been practicing the sport for more than four years hasn’t lost a friend yet. Nonetheless, danger prevails.