Aug 1, 2009
The 5 Most Mindblowing BASE Jumps In History featured” />
Image of John Carta: Foto di famiglia
Being wannabe daredevil types here at Environmental Graffiti, we’ve got a bit of a penchant for the rush of extreme sports; and when trying to gauge the most radical of these fear-fuelled activities – the ones where the natural high really puts your stomach in your mouth – we’d have to say BASE jumping is right up there. Even as dangerous sports go, it’s is a pretty fringe sort of stunt, with a high fatality rate that has seen even experienced jumpers killed on a regular basis. Here we’ve compiled a selection of some of the wildest BASE jumps completed to date.
1. Highest Ever BASE Jump
Images via: The Age and Trip Pundit
On May 23rd 2006, Glenn Singleman and Heather Swan soared down from a record-high 6604 metre (21,667 ft) precipice of the Himalayan Meru Peak after a gruelling 22-day climb in sub-zero conditions. Aided by their wingsuits – which didn’t inflate easily in the rarefied air – the Australian couple took just two minutes to fly down to their base camp, though the feat was the result of 6 years preparation.
During the painfully slow ascent up the near-vertical Indian mountain face, Singleman and Swan endured altitude sickness, malnutrition, and temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade. However, the considerably quicker descent, in which they reached speeds of over 200 km/h before opening their parachutes, saw them swoop into the record books with the highest BASE jump in history – a record first held by the forefather of the sport, Carl Boenish, when he jumped off Norway’s Troll Wall, days before dying in the same location.
2. Highest Ever BASE Jump From A Building
Image: Joi Ito
As dawn broke on April 9, 2008, a Frenchman named Hervé Le Gallou and an unidentified Englishman perched on the 155th floor of the tallest man-made structure on earth. The latter launched himself into the yawning sky over Dubai’s cityscape, swiftly followed by his more experienced friend, who skillfully glided down in a wingsuit, getting as close as possible to a nearby skyscraper before he too released his parachute.
Disguised as construction workers, the pair had snuck into the compound of the Burj Dubai while it was still dark. They took well over an hour to climb the stairs in sapping humidity and 40 degree heat, but by making it to the top, they would experience that little moment of eternity and total freedom in which the world was theirs. When they landed, they made their getaway fast, but they had done it: they had BASE jumped off the world’s tallest building. Gallou was arrested and held for several months for jumping the Burj again just a few days later.
3. Lowest Ever BASE Jump
Image via: Sean Buckley
Standing atop Brazil’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in January 1999, stuntman ‘Fearless Felix’ Baumgartner braced himself for what was to be the world’s lowest BASE jump at 29 metres (95 feet). When he stepped off the edge, split seconds would extend as Rio de Janeiro opened up before his eyes. Those who make jumps that fall into the highest category may win more plaudits as well as freefall time, but it’s the lower jumps that are more dangerous because there is so little time for the parachute to open.
A good thing the Austrian self-styled “God of the Skies” is a perfect professional who himself formerly held the record for the world’s highest BASE jump from a building, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. To complete BASE dives from low heights, the jumper requires the help of an attachment between the parachute and the jump platform that stretches as the jumper falls, ensuring their chute inflates quickly.
4. Least Green BASE Jump?
Image: Erik Roner
In 2007, motorsports legend Travis Pastrana revved the throttle on his dirt bike and was answered by the loud snarl of the engine. The bike shot forward, the ramp reared up, and seconds later, man and bike were flipping into the gulf of the Grand Canyon. Pastrana continued to flip over as he plummeted, but was forced to delay the opening of his chute. He crashed into the steep-lying canyon side wall, his fall broken only by the mercy of cacti, just moments before a precipice.
Accompanied by his friends, Pastrina was following in the tire tracks of BASE jumper John Carta, who pioneered speeding off bridges into thin air with a motorcycle in the 80’s. Least green may sound a pedantic award in a sport that can’t be accused of too much in the way of harm to the environment – but once the canopy has opened, there is the small matter of a motorcycle crashing down in a spray of flying parts, oil and gasoline!
5. Most Green BASE Jump?
Image via: Earth First
With gusts swirling around them, one by one the guys in the group balanced on the blades of the wind turbine and cast themselves into the breeze. This was not only to be another extremely low BASE jump, but one that must have surely required an inside man to give the crew access to climb up inside to the apex of the shaft, not to mention turn off the turbine so that it was ready for the jump.
In keeping with the fact that BASE jumping has always been something of a covert activity, tittle seems to be known about the motivation behind this stunt. Maybe it was some kind of green statement – though the way those guys kick off the blades it could equally be accused of being anti-green! Maybe, then, it’s simply a case that with most commercial wind turbines standing at least 80 metres (265 feet) tall, they were bound to attract the attention of the BASE jumping crowd sooner or later.
Edited: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
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