BASE Jumping or B.A.S.E. Jumping is an extreme sport that involves parachuting or wingsuit flying from a fixed point, usually a high structure of a cliff. The sport got its name as an acronym that stands for the different fixed points where a person can start a jump. Its acronym stands for building, antennae, span, and earth or cliff.
Carl Boenish, together with his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Mayfield, and Phil Smith, started modern BASE jumping in the 1978. He filmed his first BASE jumps using freefall tracking technique and ram-air parachutes. He set the very first BASE jumping record in the Guinness World Records in 1984. Faust Vrancic was also believed to have started the first parachute jumping experiment. He was the first man to construct as well as test an actual parachute.
BASE jumping has been featured in several movies. Movies such as xXx, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Die Another Day, A View to Kill and many more used BASE jumping as part of their action scenes.
Image credit: 03WAVRE006b by Xof711
Common BASE Jumping Equipment
Before trying BASE jumping, it is important to be familiar with the sport’s basic equipment. Some of the basic and most common BASE jumping equipment include the ram-air parachute, safety gear (helmet, shoulder, and knee pads, etc.), slider, and pilot chute.
Many have attempted to jump at the highest peaks; however, these people have managed to make the most notable BASE jumps ever recorded:
- Russell Powell. Powell illegally BASE jumped from the St. Paul’s Cathedral’s Whispering Gallery. He set the world’s lowest indoor BASE jump record measuring 31.1 meters.
- Nic Feteris and Glenn Singleman. These two Australians jumped from 20,600-feet off the Great Trango Towers in Pakistan and set the highest BASE jump record in the world in 1992.
- Karina Hollekim. Hollekim became the first woman to do a ski-BASE in 2005.
- Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet. These two French men were able to break the highest BASE jump in the Guinness World Record with a 828-meter drop in 2014.
To this day, many are still trying to break BASE jump records.
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Top BASE Jumping Sites
Despite its extreme nature, many people are drawn to it because of the exhilaration. BASE jumping destinations are scattered all over the world. Some of the most famous and extreme BASE jumping locations include:
- Meru Peak. The Meru Peak is located in the Himalayan Mountains. It is the site of the highest BASE jump ever recorded. It has a drop of more than 21,000 feet that starts from the mountain’s peak.
- Burj Khalifa. Dubai is home to the second most popular BASE jumping site, which is the Burj Khalifa. It is the world’s tallest building with a 3,000-feet drop, which is why many BASE jumpers are drawn to it for the thrill.
- Angel Falls. Venezuela’s Angel Falls is also one of the most popular BASE jumping sites in the world. It is the highest waterfall in the world, which makes it a perfect place to jump. Unlike other places such as Dubai, Angel Falls welcomes BASE jumpers.
- Troll Wall. The Troll Wall is located in Romsdalen Valley, Norway. With a drop of 3,600 feet, jumpers are sure to get a thrill.
So if you feel like taking this extreme sport to the highest level, you might want to check these beautiful and amazing jumping destinations.
Credit image: BASE jumping – Perrine Bridge” by Chris McNaught
BASE Jumping Versus Skydiving
Because of the low altitude of this extreme sport, it is said to be more dangerous than skydiving. However, skydiving inspired this extreme sport. The main difference between the two is the altitude. While skydivers start from a much higher altitude, BASE jumpers start from a relatively low, jumping point.
Skydivers have more stabilized descent because they use the air flow from their high altitude. As a result, they are able to deploy their parachutes cleanly. In the case of BASE jumpers, they have lesser aerodynamics, as they fall from a lower point. They are more prone to tumbling and even accidents.
BASE Jumping Legal Issues And Fatalities
One of the most common legal issues of this sport, is seeking the permission of the jump site to allow them to jump. Since most BASE jumpers jump from the highest infrastructure available such as buildings and skyscrapers, they may be required to get the approval of the building owners or else they will be charged with trespassing.
As of the year 2006, BASE jumping has an estimated fatality rate of approximately one per 60 jumpers. There were a total of nine fatalities in an eleven-year period from 1995 up to 2005. According to the BASE Fatality List, there were a total of 256 fatalities from April 1981 to September 2014.
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Header image credit: BASE Jumping from Sapphire Tower in Istanbul” by Kontizas Dimitrios