Base Jumping 101 – Complete Beginners Guide to Your First BASE Jump

BaseJumperThere’s always an excitement closely related with extreme sports these days as sport enthusiasts look out for better ways to push the envelope and seek ways in which they can acquire some thrill, fun and excitement. Extreme base jumping is one such extreme sport that has evolved in the past few decades, mostly in the last decade as more and more base jumping movies and base jumping documentary have come out inspiring people to challenge the law of gravity and break-free. While base jumping is dangerous there are more and more people wanting to know about it and try it out once to get their dose of fun and thrill. However, before you we do that let’s take a turn back in time and see how this extreme sport has evolved over a brief period of time.

Origins of Base Jumping

To most people base jumping is a recent phenomenon, but using parachutes to jump from fixed objects has been practiced for more than nine centuries now. There are records of people jumping from immovable objects in the 12th century. However, later in the 17th century the development of balloon drew man towards the passion of jumping from a moving object rather than fixed object. In the 19th century, the army and the navy personnel took to jumping with parachutes from airplane. Apart from that there were sporadic events across the globe where base jumpers jumped from various fixed objects. In 1977, The Spy Who Loved Me boosted the popularity of base jumping as Rick Sylvester jumps from a 3600 feet Mount Asgard on Baffin Island in Canada for the opening action sequence.

History of Extreme Base Jumping

In 1978, Carl Boenish and his wife Jean Boenish along with Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield came up with the concept of what’s called modern base jumping. Carl Boenish filmed his first basejump video using ram-air parachutes and used freefall tracking techniques from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. There were many other who did jump from El Capitan before 1978, but it was Carl Boenish who is voted as the founder of the modern base jumping. However, it was only in 1984, that Guinness World Records listed Carl Boenish’s leap from Troll Wall in Norway and described it as the highest basejump.

Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan became the center of early base jumping activity, but this location had administrative regulation in effect which became a major bureaucratic problem for base jumpers who wanted to try their jumps from El Capitan. Since there were no basic regulations for base jumping. However, there were many base jumping videos that were circulated within the community that encouraged more people to base jump.

Movies have played an instrumental role in boosting the popularity of basejump sport and taking the concept to the larger audience across the globe who never knew anything about it. While the 1977, The Spy Who Loved Me was the first Hollywood attempt, many directors later decided to include base jumping in their movie action sequences to enhance the action experience. The 2002 Vin Diesel starrer XXX film made a great impact on the mind of the audiences as Diesel’s character jumps off the Foresthill Bridge in an open-topped car. In the same year, Pierce Brosnan stars as James Bond in Die Another Day where he jumps off a melting iceberg. In 2003, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life includes an action sequence where Lara Croft jumps off the IFC Tower in Hong Kong with a wingsuit landing on a moving freighter.

Base JumpsDifference Between Base Jumping & Other Sports

With more and more similar kind of extreme sports coming up, there is a greater chance of misunderstanding in the general public that base jumping is another word for bungee jumping and skydiving. However, the fact is that all the sports have certain differences which make them unique in their own way. For many people, there is virtually no difference between bungee jumping and base jumping because in both the cases individuals jump from a high place. However, bungee jumping is all about falling and there’s a rope attached to stop the performers from hitting the ground. In base jumping, there is no rope tied around which means the risk of serious injuries and sometimes death are more likely in base jumping. Base jumper makes use of base jumping parachute to ensure that they land safely, while in bungee jumping there is no need for parachutes at all because the elastic cord ensures complete safety to the performer.

On the other hand, there is a constant comparison between base jumping and skydiving. It is true that base jumping grew out of skydiving, but base jumping has evolved as a unique sport. While skydiving is quite dangerous sport, base jumping is considered to be more dangerous than skydiving because the risks involved in extreme base jumping are more. Skydivers usually make use of air flow to stable their position and allow their base jumping parachute to deploy cleanly. However, base jumper usually is falling down at low speed which means there is less aerodynamic control and the chances of tumbling or errors are higher which can lead to death or fatal injuries. On the other hand, when the base jumper tumbles, he might lose out the chances of deploying the base jumping parachute at the right time and get entangled in it.

Also, the time and the space to land is quite small compared to that of skydiving. Skydivers usually have more time to decide where to land after deploying their parachutes. For base jumpers the parachute ride only lasts for 15 seconds or less and therefore base jumper has to quickly decide where to land or in some cases decide where to land prior to making the jump.

Preparing for the First Basejump

Preparing for the first jump is really exciting but you must make sure that you don’t flow away with emotions and be in control. Hence, the most important thing is that you check if you’re mentally and physically fit for it. There are many things to know about base jumping that you should check before you make the first jump. You need to make the right decision and make up your mind whether you can take the challenges that will come your way or not. If you have made up your mind and have the right mentality you can certainly go ahead with your decision for base jumping. It is also equally important that you involve your family members as well after you’ve made the decision. Sit down with your family and talk to them about your decision and about base jumping. This could be challenging because convincing your family about your decision to engage in a life-threatening activity can take some time. However, an open and honest conversation will be the right thing to do when you’ve planned to take up base jumping.

You must also make sure that you have the right base jumping equipment and gear that can help you to get going. This is important because your base jumping equipment will play a crucial role in making your jumps successful. Focus on the quality of the base jumping equipment that you’re buying because you don’t want to end up with regrets and disappointments later on. If you’re not sure about how to get started with base jumping equipment you can search for sites where you can find information on how to buy base jump helmet and other equipment.

When you are planning to get started you should try skydives first before you go ahead with the first jump. Learning how to skydive is equally important when you want to enter the world of extreme base jumping. Hence, you must have an experience of more than 100 skydives before you make your first jump. Learning how to skydive will help you to practice accuracy, tracking and canopy control when you are base jumping. Skydiving also provides you with an insight on how to be comfortable with base jumping parachute and free fall. You also have to be comfortable and make split second decisions that can help you save your life when things go wrong unexpectedly. You should also try out night skydiving that will help you toad to your experience which you will then use when you are base jumping.

Skydiving will also help you to enhance your tracking skills and you will be able to handle yourself in a better way when you make your first basejump. Hence, you have to practice tracking in max track and make the entire dive tracking as hard as you can with the camera and coaching, if possible. You also have to focus on how you can use the canopy to your advantage and therefore you must carry the same or similar canopy that you want to use for your base jumps. When trying to make use of the canopy make the set up low to simulate the base environment.

Base JumpingYour First Step towards Base Jumping

It is very important that you understand more about the basics of base jumping before you take your first jump and for that you need to be ready not just physically, but mentally as well. It is therefore important that you focus on the First Jump Course also known as FJC to start off your base jumping career. This is highly recommended because it will help you to prepare for the jumps that you’re going to make in the future. There are many base jumpers across the world that prefer to go for First Jump Course or FJC because it helps them in many different ways.

One of the main reasons why basejumper should choose FJC is because base jumping is not just about individual records and accomplishments, but about meeting different people and learning and gaining from their experience. While you might have the best mentor and the right location to try your base jumping skills you need FJC to help you team up with people you’ve never met before. Establishing relationship is really important if you want to become a professional basejumper. During the first jump course, you will meet new people in the base jumping community and you might even get to know more about the tricks and tips that other people will share with you.

Apart from getting to know other people, First Jump Course also provides you with an insight into the world of base jumping like no other. These courses are provided by professionals that will guide you on how to proceed with caution and understand what needs to be at the right time. It is also important that you do your homework and be prepared for the FJC so that you can make your jump without any issues.

Important Base Jumping Accessories

Whenever you go out for a base jump you need to ensure that you keep certain things in check. Most important of all is that you must check your base jumping gear that will help you to execute the jump the way you want it. Apart from the base jumping equipment you must also make sure that you carry certain accessories that can guide you to make that jump successful.

Laser Range Finder – While there is no direct use of the laser range finder while you’re making the jump, but you certainly need this device to scope the new site. It allows you to measure the height of the exit point. So, you can either stand right below the exit point and shoot upwards, or shoot downwards while you are standing at the exit point just before the jump.

Radios & Cellphones – Communication is really important when you are base jumping and therefore your base jumping gear must include radios so that you can communicate with the ground crew and other jumpers. It will also allow you to communicate to the rescue team in case you’ve injured yourself and you’re stuck somewhere. Similarly, you must also carry cell phones that will help you to communicate and ensure that you’re safe and secure. Apart from these two important accessories you can also include other items like painkillers, flashlights and pull-up cord that can help you when you’re making the jump for the first time.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of base jumping you can certainly try out jumps from different locations and even try wingsuit base jumping which does require good amount of experience and expertise. It is always recommended that you stick to the basics and ensure that you’re safe and secured before you make the jump.

Understanding the Basics of Base Jumping Gear
Interview With Avid Base Jumper - Philippe Jean