As Adrenalists, we applaud the dangerous and that usually means deference to those stunts occurring at the fastest speeds and the highest heights. Seldom, if ever, do we celebrate the low. Until now, because in the world of BASE jumping, the only event more dangerous than vaulting off of a 700-foot-high building is hopping off one that’s 70-feet. The only thing more terrifying than approaching the prospect of your chute not opening and hitting the ground after 1 minute of free falling is the prospect of hitting the ground after 15 seconds of falling. Though many short jumpers employ the direct bag method, attaching their chute cords to the platforms from which they jump in order to ensure instant opening, the more complex the stunt procedure, the greater the probability of mishap. Low jumps are often viewed as more risky than traditional jumps because their mechanical logistics are so complex.
Here are some of the lowest BASE jumps of all time.
Before he set the world record for the highest ever skydive, stuntman “Fearless Felix” Baumgartner set another record for the lowest ever BASE jump (a feat we referenced back in our Craziest BASE Jumps feature) when he jumped off Brazil’s 95-foot-high Christ the Redeemer statue in January of 1999. Lucky for Baumgartner, the mountain that the Redeemer statue sits atop is tiered so he was able to glide past the first level’s ground, 95 feet below, and into a more expansive open space. You’ll see as our list continues that not all divers are so lucky. Tiered cliffs or not, one thing’s for sure: Baumgartner is one of the most fearless jumpers to ever walk the planet.
Maybe Even Lower?
How many times have you driven past an electrical tower while cruising down the highway? Have you ever pondered climbing one and hopping off? Probably not. Only mere seconds after this unnamed daredevil takes his leap, he crashes to the ground, proving the speed with which one has to react in order to safely land a low BASE jump. If the Adrenalist featured here really only leapt 30 meters, this jump would be even shorter than Baumgartner’s, but with no official measurement it’s hard to tell. World record title aside, this one’s still worthy of some significant street cred.
There’s nothing quite like a cement landing. If the prospect of leaping from a building that measures 15 stories high doesn’t send shivers up your spine, the possibility of your chute failing to open over one of the hardest man-made surfaces in the world isn’t exactly confidence instilling. As a matter of fact, it looks like post-landing pain ensues even when the chute does its job. Add that pain to the chance that you’ll get a face full of building brick during your brief free fall, and it’s almost not worth taking a hop like this. Almost. Good thing hardcore BASE jumpers only deal in absolute certainties–for them life is binary, defined only by jumping or wussing out.
Check out this footage of the lowest tandem BASE jump ever, completed by the two-person team of BASE master Bob Draijer and Dutch TV host Sander Lantinga. Who is who, you ask? Lantinga’s the guy who looks completely panicked before he leaves the bridge’s ledge (can you blame him?) and Draijer’s the one who looks so at ease he might as well be sitting on his couch. To Lantinga’s credit, he overcame what looked to be a moment of near-paralyzing fear. Made from 140 meters (459 feet), the jump you’re witnessing is a pure and unfettered representation of faith–faith these men have in each other, in their equipment, and in the quest for adrenaline.
Closest Call Jump
Though we’ve detailed the extraordinary dangers that go along with low BASE jumping, we’ve not yet witnessed a fully-realized example of that danger – we haven’t actually seen a jump gone wrong. This Russian Adrenalist’s life must’ve flashed before his eyes during his brief, nearly tragic plummet from a 120-meter (393 foot) tower. According to the video’s description, the jumper sustained serious injuries and lost consciousness for a brief period after hitting the ground but was, miraculously, alright. We’re not sure why his chute didn’t open, or if it had anything to do with what appeared to be a decision not to employ a “direct bag” method, but this is one of the rare instances in which a short distance fall was both a life-threatening and life-saving endeavor.