BASE Jumping: playing chicken with the Earth

These days everything gets extreme-a-fied rapidly, which I suppose suits the extremophiles out there.

Let’s say you jump off a building and live to tell about it. You talk to your friends. They all think you’re crazy and you get a reputation as a head-case, but that’s as far as it goes. Now suppose you do a nice video documentary of your jump. You post it to YouTube where millions of people will see it. Somebody sets it to some hard-driving electronica music. Now hundreds of susceptible extremophiles around the world will be infected. They’ll want to do you one better.

I came across this Ultimate BASE Jumping on, and it really took my breath away. The acronyn BASE in BASE Jumping stands for Building Antenna Span Earth. In other words, you get a parachute, but no airplane. In other words, if no one in their right mind would consider jumping off of it, parachute or no parachute, it’s a BASE jump. In this video, you see people “flying” extraordinarily close to the cliff face. At the same time I’m thinking “this can’t possibly be done,” I’m also thinking “so that’s what it looks like to plummet three thousand feet straight down next to a jagged cliff.” Nothing violent happens in this video, but as you can imagine people do occasionally die doing this.

A lot of these clips were taken from a peak in Norway called Kjerag, which is near the scenic hamlet of Lysebotn. Look for the dark glacial gash of a fjord to get an idea where the jumping is happening. Check out the official Kjerag photo gallery.