The Adrenalist

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BASE Jumping Close Calls



BASE jumping is terrifying when there are no complications, so it’s difficult to imagine the special blend of adrenaline that must be pumping through adventurers’ veins when things don’t go as planned, or when the jump they’re embarking on is anything less than “run-of-the-mill”. Yes, difficult to imagine indeed. But of course we’ve imagined it, and we’ve also found footage of it. None of the jumpers were harmed during their brushes with disaster, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security on your next BASE sojourn. As you watch, please take some time to appreciate just how thin the line is between an afternoon spent enjoying your favorite extreme sport and a life-threatening ordeal. We’re not saying cancel your weekend plans to plunge headfirst off a cliff. We’re just saying: know what you’re getting yourself into before you take off, and maybe think about investing in a wingsuit. You’ll see why those come in handy.

Here are four insane BASE jumping close calls.

Cliff Crash

Things could’ve gone a whole lot worse on this one. Though our unnamed jumper appears to be taking off from a relatively modest height (at least as far as BASE jumps go), his failure to gain enough momentum for a double back flip results in a near catastrophic cliff-side crash and a landing that looks pretty darn rough, especially since he isn’t wearing any protective gear. The daredevil’s video-ending exclamation “I’m good!” may not have existed in a hundred other likely iterations of this same scenario. Apparently, it’s his lucky day.

Highway Plummet

Once you hit 0:34 in this video, the things you see may forever deter you from going BASE jumping, or at least doing so over a busy roadway frequented by tractor trailers. The video’s tandem expedition, wherein one participant is wearing a wingsuit, looks really cool  until the Adrenalists break apart and the wingsuiter drifts out over a busy highway looking as though he’s going to land in the middle of oncoming traffic. He pulls his ripcord at the last second and lands among a bunch of trees (which doesn’t look too great, but is certainly better than the alternative). Successive over-highway attempts make us realize just how confident these guys are in their abilities to steer clear of becoming roadkill. More power to them, but we prefer jumps where obstacles are stationary. Cactus and rocks hurt, but not as much as a 4×4 going 70 mph.

Near-Death Bridge Jump

When spectators gathered to see this man BASE jump at West Virgina’s 2011 Bridge Day, they probably never guessed they were about to witness a miracle, but witness a miracle they did. After hopping off a bridge 267 meters (about 875 feet) high, this man lives every BASE jumper’s worst nightmare when he pulls at his ripcord and nothing happens. Obviously an experienced jumper, the wingsuiter has the presence of mind to make the most of his birdlike garb and sails down to waterlogged safety. We only wish the video showed his triumphant re-appearance.

Grand Canyon Grind Rail

Earlier this month, we covered Brazilian skateboarder Bob Burnquist’s heavily prepped, insanely dangerous skateboard jump off the edge of the Grand Canyon. As crazy as it sounds, the fact that Burnquist wanted to ride his skateboard into a Grand Canyon gorge isn’t the thing that makes this stunt a BASE jumping close call. The nuttiest part of this move is the apparatus Burnquist uses to facilitate that jump — a mega ramp with a precariously-placed grind rail addition that threatens momentum and obscures balance right before a massive launch. As we saw with the double back flip, successful BASE jumps are intense enough without throwing additional hurdles in the pre-jump mix. Though it doesn’t look like it will be the case in the seconds leading up to his jump, Burnquist’s attempt is successful. Kudos to him for pulling it off, but we recommend any would-be imitators think long and hard about following in his footsteps.

Cover Photo Credit: Xof711- Wikimedia Commons

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