Like millions of other recreational and thrilling sports played worldwide, base jumping is one of them. The players jump from a fixed object (such as a tall building). They descend using the parachute, so you can clearly imagine the height from where base jumping is done. The objects may be buildings, bridges, or cliffs from where the jumpers jump. “BASE” in the base jumping is used as an acronym for Buildings, Antennas, etc.
Base Jumping vs. Skydiving
You might be wondering about the difference between base jumping and skydiving. The difference is very clear. Skydiving is done from the moving objects, or you can say helicopters and planes, while base jumping is done from fixed objects, such as buildings.
Another difference is the height. Skydiving and other forms of parachuting are done from a greater altitude compared to base jumping. However, base jumping is done from lower altitudes; it is still considered more hazardous than any other form of parachuting.
Because of lower altitudes in base jumping, the base jumpers usually encounter lower airspeeds than skydiving. In low base jumping, the jumpers cannot reach their terminal velocities, and they might land before reaching the terminal velocities.
If you are acrophobic, you should better stay away from any thrilling sport like base jumping. The thrill of base jumping is greater than skydiving.
Origin of Base Jumping
Though base jumping has been originated since long, it was featured in one of the films of Carl Boenish in 1978. This was the time when base jumping started getting recognition. Since then, this activity got acknowledged as a recreational sport and not only an exercise. Because it gained a lot of attention from the audience out of a sudden, Carl Boenish continued to make more films on the base jumping. By 1984 when he died, base jumping was being practiced by hundreds of people worldwide.
Since the beginning, base jumping has been continued to be featured in films and got noticed by a huge audience.
Major Obstacles Faced by Base Jumpers
Base jumpers are more prone to injuries as compared to skydivers because they have some additional obstacles to cope with, such as:
- Low Height/Altitude
Because of the low altitude of the surface from which the participants have to jump, they cannot miss a second to open their parachutes. Any possible delay may lead to the death of the jumper.
- Proximity to the Jumping Surface
It is another major hurdle that skydivers don’t have to encounter.
Classification of Base Jumping
Base jumps can be classified into three types:
1. Low Base Jumps
Low base jumps are also called slider-down jumps because of the absence of sliders in the parachutes. This means that the parachutes can easily be opened without any delay. Thus, this type of jumping decreases the chances of injury and fatalities.
Low base jumps can also be done using other techniques, and they require the use of a static line or PCA. These techniques make these low jumps possible from even a height as low as 50 to 30 meters.
In low base jumping, a jumper cannot reach his terminal velocity before landing.
2. High Base Jumps
In contrast to the low base jumps, these types of jumps are called slider-up jumps. This is because they cannot be performed in the absence of the sliders. The jumper reaches his terminal velocity before landing.
High base jumping may do more damage, and the jumper is prone to dying in the case of high jumping. Increased height, freefall, and equipment like wingsuits are likely to cause the problems.
3. Tandem Base Jumps
This type of base jumping is similar to skydiving. This is the activity in which the pilot dives into the air with a passenger attached to his front.
Competitions and Legality
Competitions of base jumping have been held since the 1980s. In some areas of the United States, for example, in the U.S National Parks, base jumping has been banned because of the hazardous outcomes and increasing death rate caused by this recreational activity.
Formal competitions have been held in different countries, including Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur. These competitions have led to notable jumps that are recognized and gained attention worldwide.
Base Jumps That Got Noticed
Certain jumps diverted the world’s attention, and some even paved their way to the Guinness Book of World Records and became everlasting. Some of the known jumpers are listed below:
- Felix Baumgartner
Felix Baumgartner is a skydiver and a base jumper who made a world record by jumping from “Christ the Redeemer.” He jumped from the height of 29 meters and is still known by the world.
- Carl Boenish
Carl was the man who gave recognition to base jumping. He managed his name to be written in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1984. His jump is considered the highest base jump of those times.
- Nic Feteris and Glen Singleman
Nic Feteris and Glenn Singleman were two Australians who base jumped from a height of 6,286 meters. They jumped from the Trango Towers in Pakistan in 1992. In 2006, Glenn Singleman jumped along with Heather Swan and made another record from the height of 6604 meters.
- Valery Rozov
Rozov jumped from the northern peak of Mount Everest in 2013 from the height of 7,220 meters. Not only that.
This extreme sport has set so many records and is known worldwide. Despite the possible dangers, uncountable records have been made in history.
Deaths Due to Base Jumping
There have been many deaths because of base jumping. From the record obtained in 2002, it was reported to be one death per 60 participants. One in two thousand jumps were reported to be fatal. Therefore, utmost care and security is the prerequisite before getting started with base jumping.
The data obtained in February 2020 reported the overall death count equal to 383 since 1981.
Although base jumping is a thrilling recreational sport, it is considered dangerous because of the low altitude and constitutes a high risk of death. Therefore, proper training and professionalism are needed for ensuring safety.