A common sobriquet for cliff jumping is Tombstoning. This isn’t to say it’s related to America’s Old West town of lore, but instead it requires cliff divers to have no margin of error. It is not a fun vacation day activity, but a very real, and competitive, sport where the best cliff divers risk their limbs and lives for the thrill of one of the most dangerous descents known to man.
For those who want to jump or dive, here are the most extreme cliffs the world has to offer.
Home to several WHDF Diving Championships, Switzerland’s Brontallo cliffs in the Lavizzara municipality offer breathtaking jumps. Some of the higher cliffs reach upwards of 78 feet. Aside from the crowds drawn by the diving competitions, however, there are only 50 listed residents, making Brontallo a popular place to visit (but not live) for top notch cliff divers. As seen in the video above, the main attraction here is the jump. There’s no fancy stands, the judges aren’t wearing suits and theres no concession stands to wait on line at. There is just a man and his jump.
Big Island, Hawaii
For the unintiated, Hawaii is considered the birthplace of cliff diving. It’s said that the last King of Maui, King Kahekili, jumped from a 63 foot cliff in 1770 and the water didn’t even ripple. His warriors were also expected to take the plunge, and now so can you. The South Tip on the island is the southern-most point of the United States, so when you hit the water, you’re quite literally jumping off America and into international waters. If you’re looking to perfect your amateur cliff-diving skills, you’ll want to book a trip to Hawaii and join the rest of King Kahekili’s warriors.
Kimberley, Western Australia
The majority of awesome cliff diving spots sit on the ocean, but the best cliff diving in the West Australian Kimberley region actually takes place further inland. Here divers will find a smattering of lakes surrounded by stunning gorges, waterfalls and mountain peaks. Some of the highest diving spots reside on the cliffs overlooking the Ord River. There’s an 80 foot cliff to challenge divers’ temerity and skill, but also smaller ones for those who want to live quite that dangerously.
Although cliff diving is said to have originated in Hawaii, Acapulco is where it took off. A Timex commercial from the late 50s featured cliff diver, Raul Gomez, diving 87 feet into the Ocean while wearing a Timex wristwatch. It’s not an amateur spot either, as you can see Gomez fighting the Ocean swells after his jump. The video above shows cliff divers reenacting this timeless jump, and battling the swells just as much 60 years later. The cliffs in Acapulco are one of the main reason cliff diving is a professional sport today.
Red Rock Park, Vermont
This park in South Burlington is probably one of the more dangerous places to dive. The water in Lake Champlain is cold enough to take your breath away (if the jump hasn’t already), and the narrow cliff walls can sandwich a jumper that’s not careful about avoiding the adjacent rock face. The 80-foot jumps are not for beginners, but then again, most of these places should come with a warning and a guide. Between the numerous obstacles, the height and the mental tnesion, Red Rock Park is one of the most extreme places a cliff diver could try to tackle.
Cover Photo Credit: aspearing – flickr.com