Getting into the world of BASE jumping could easily be considered both the worst and best decision I’ve ever made in life. That being said, I feel extremely happy about the introduction of a new adventure and passion, accepting whatever consequences may come from this choice. One of my defining character traits is that I love and appreciate life for all its dramas, both the ups and downs, and I do my best to fully accept all spectrums of the experience. With this new chapter, I’m hoping to experience unique elevated perspectives and explore greater opportunities for world travel, community bonding and gain a better understanding of my mind and gravity. Although obvious before every jump, there exists the lingering reality of femurs shattering, friends cratering and life expectancies being cut short. As terrible as that may sound, I fully understand there are no guarantees in this sport, which accurately describes the very nature of what ‘living’ has come to mean for me over the years… I wouldn’t define myself as an adrenaline junkie by any means, although I do embrace the natural high from time to time, but the real reward and conquest is in overcoming your fear and celebrating the minds ability to push through hard circumstances. Accepting your potential fate while on the edge of a cliff, bridge, building, etc. and distilling it all down to a fast paced moment of focused flight feels incredibly liberating and freeing from a culture that insists on safety nets, insurance policies and supposed guarantees. The sensation of falling and being saved by your own canopy is all very fleeting and a matter of trust, so it reminds me of a condensed lesson in a greater appreciation for the life experience. To make the best of the adventure and enjoy every passing moment no matter how short or prolonged it can be!
What I can say confidently so far about this new reality shift is the over all experience of momentary flight and relaxation is absolutely unparalleled to anything I’ve yet endeavored in my 28 years of living. The free-fall in space is mind blowing, the sound and feeling of air rushing past your body exhilarating, and the quiet canopy flight pure joy; adding to the delicious icing layer of this mouth watering cake. In pondering other methods to get my adventure fix, maybe crack-cocaine would have been a better life choice for a multitude of reasons… I’m sure the the longer high would comparatively outweigh the heavy repercussions of potentially ending your life so quickly, but somehow smoking from a glass pipe and having rotten teeth seems a less glamorous and more dangerous decision at this particular junction… Anyway, I stray from the points at hand so let me bring it back to the present. As a new jumper in this sport, I respect the learning curve and am staying highly aware of my own intuition and comfort levels. This honesty has rarely led me astray in perilous situations so I’m hoping to maintain a consistent ‘on heading performance’ with this mind set throughout the journey.
Immediately with BASE, I’m drawn into the simplicity of actions and complexities of skills involved. In navigating your body through the three dimensions of space, where seemingly invisible forces of wind, altitude and air murmur deadly secrets that threaten to slam your body into hard elevated surfaces, there lies a very real and unique opportunity to feel fully alive with each leap of faith. Serious repercussion and quick reactions will make or break your day, and I like that kind of honesty in my relationships. Highly focused states of mind are where I tend to excel, and this seems to be yet another version of that universal enlightenment. By sharpening my personal intuition and accelerating reaction time, the heightened human senses feel fully activated in a new primal way. I think this is modern mans attempt at paying tribute to the inheritance of our finely tuned human senses over time. Developed from our early human predecessors, who genetically passed down this sharpened tool kit from deadly hunts and surviving in the elements for so long, we still need to find creative ways to experience real alertness and attentiveness. Although my life reality has greatly changed from that ‘hunter-gatherer’ lifestyle, the acute mind still remains and the human senses exist to be tested, felt and improved upon. The peace of flying without the necessity of a noisy plane, separated from the distractions of drop zone dramas, or a mandatory license/waiver to experience the void, I know I’ve found a new passion to compliment and improve all my previous outdoor adventurous pursuits. It seems with every decision to jump, although the mood may seem light and happy, it’s evident that it could be your last… This drama makes for an interesting confrontation of human emotions. Without dwelling too long on the perils and risks, the group vibe of BASE jumping has so far been very laid back with a surprisingly casual demeanor to balance out the fast rush of approaching movement. I see now that it’s very possible to find composure in the falling environment, and I assure you it’s oh so beautiful when you do so. By not taking life too seriously and enjoying the company and environment with which you surround yourself always, life takes on new meaning and a novel sense of contentment. Immersed with amazing people and their happy energy helps to settle the nerves, despite lingering anxieties in the chest, and this seems to be the best recipe for mitigating risk in any dangerous situation… In short, it’s all very fast, focused and honest. I appreciate all these elements of jumping with a magic backpack and have fallen in love with the community that celebrates them.
For anyone choosing to jump off of perfectly safe surfaces, I imagine there lies different reasons for making said bad decisions. It’s a very intense test of the nerves, body and mind. For myself, I look at it as just another unique way to experience the world. The fact that man has created parachutes from fabric to arrest a deadly fall makes me smile, so why not get out there and try it out. I’ve also heard others describe it as “crazy white boy shit,” to which explanation I’m not sure is most accurate. The verdict is still up for debate. For the dozens of other reasons I can list as to why I love this new way of falling and letting go, the reasons which stand out most are based around the fun of it all and the amazing community surrounding the lifestyle. In my many years of highlining, rock climbing and experimenting with creative rope swing rigging, this family immediately strikes me as especially unique and different than most other human followings. There’s a universal passion for ‘living life’ more fully and understanding the futility of it all; a mixture of an elite ninja’s focus combined with the holistic life philosophy of a Buddha floating with the wind.
During the 7 hour drive from Moab to Twin Falls, Idaho, accompanied by my dearest monkey friends Scott Rogers and Daniel Moore, I experienced varied levels of anxiety and excitement about what was about to take place. Many moons ago, while in college, I invested a summers time and energy to getting my A-license in skydiving. Essentially learning how to be in free fall amongst the clouds and under a canopy in flight. The experience was exhilarating and incredibly fun, but I eventually grew tired of the expensive cost, the dramas of dysfunctional relationships at the drop zone, and the loud noises of airplanes. There was certainly peace to be found in the chaos, the feeling of navigating your flying body in the sky was mind blowing, but in the end my passions for outdoor adventure lead me toward quieter addictions where I could better interact with nature, the elements and my own body/mind. In remembering the skills of manipulating fabric to sore through the sky and softly land on the ground, I was excited to take my first leap of faith into the mysterious abyss of BASE jumping. BASE is by no means a ‘safe’ or ‘smart’ decision to become involved with, I openly admit to that, but in truth the majority of my personal history with life-changing decisions has rarely made any logical sense anyway, so I credit this experiment as just another one in a long ticklist of best/worst ideas had in life. During this initial introduction to sBASE jumping, an old friend expressed concern for my decision to start with only 50 skydives under my belt and being uncurrent under canopy. Fortunately for me I’ve learned to listen to my own intuition above all else and have tuned out the masses critique of how I should or shouldn’t live my life. The populace, as a whole, seems already to concerned and constrained by conformity and adhering to rules, so I guess this is a version of my own personal rebellion. I’ve been told by many skydivers that you need ‘x’ amount of skydives before getting into BASE, but I think it all more importantly depends on the individual at hand. Some people will have the body awareness and level headed ability to make quick decisions, while others will never attain these skills no matter how much they try to train them. The fact is, BASE jumping and skydiving are very different activities with similar, yet very different, skill sets required for them. I do accept, respect and appreciate that greater canopy time achieved through skydiving will help mitigate your risk of injury or death while landing a canopy (which is a big part of the experience) in sketchy environments, but gravity is gravity and it tends to remain pretty consistent no matter where you are. You jump, you fly, and you hopefully land in control. I thoroughly plan on mastering my canopy skills, stable exits and reaction time before attempting any technical jumps that are well over my head at this point. I also know that what seems more important is to not push it too fast, too soon, and that is all a matter of respecting your own intuition and experience.
The certainty of real adventure in the outdoor environment has historically brought me to some of the most unique places in the world and has exponentially expanded my mind in ways I could have never imagined before. Climbing without the safety of a rope or walking highlines without a leash has helped me to better prepare my mind and body for these types of high risk situations, emotions and realities, where maintaining grace and composure in dangerous places is incredibly necessary and can also become supremely meditative. Committing to the experience is a big part of the mortal equation, and until you do so, you’ll never know what your truly capable of when letting go of supposed certainties and safety nets. I never preach to anyone on how to live their life, or lecture others on the path they should or should not be taking, so I only expect the same courtesy to be extended to myself… Truth be told, my intimate friends in the communities of BASE jumping, rock climbing and highlining are the real individuals who closely understand who I am and the focus I’m capable of harnessing. These supportive people have given nothing but positive encouragement with a balanced disclaimer of danger, and they constantly inspire me to become a better person through their actions, passions and courage. With the guidance of their experience, I aspire to be a better person who can make key decisions that keep me living a longer, richer and fuller life. Having confronted death in its physical form, seeing my father’s dead body with a departed soul, and continually putting myself in risky situations where focus is paramount for survival, I fully embrace the serious nature of this sport/lifestyle. It all goes very fast. Much like life feels in retrospect. Gravity has no mercy and you are guaranteed to land on solid ground one way or another. The best we can hope for is that everyone will make the right personal decisions when standing on the edge of an exit point. If you’re ready for the adventure, take the plunge… If not, hike your ass down to enjoy another beer with your friends at the pub. In the end, it’s all in your hands to assess the situation for yourself and follow your own intuition. I think this is partly why the family surrounding BASE jumping has immediately intrigued me. Life is often balanced on the ability to let go of our attempts to control our desired fate. Sometimes its more important to just trust in yourself to be able deal with the present moment as it comes, and this activity is nothing more than a distilled example of that universal truth. Not for the weary and faint of heart, you must react and relax all at the same time. Just as one crosses a highline gracefully, or casually climbs a vertical cliff with ease, there is serene beauty in the peaceful warrior mentality of conquering your fears through direct confrontation.