BASE is an acronym which stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth. These four categories relate to the types of exit points most typically used by base jumpers, the term was originally coined by the legendary Carl Boenish, often seen as the father of BASE jumping. In the late 1970s, Carl began filming jumps that were made from El Capitan – these jumps were made using ram-air parachutes and would essentially set the building blocks for what was to come for BASE jumping.
Thanks to modern media in combination with the internet, there are a number of people who have recently been introduced to BASE through watching videos on youtube or television. Unfortunately, with this increased exposure has come an increase in individuals thinking that BASE jumping would be a fun bucket list activity, similar to doing a tandem skydive. What is often unknown to these individuals, is that the road to becoming a BASE jumper is not a quick, easy or inexpensive one.
While there have been exceptions, to much controversy – there is a generally accepted path to follow in order to begin BASE. The first step is to become a skydiver, you can think of it as the most vital step in the progression to BASE. Wanting to learn to BASE jump without skydiving experience can be likened to wanting to become a formula one driver but not wanting to learn how to drive in a regular car first. Skydiving is what will teach you the basics of body position and canopy control, furthermore it will prepare you for the correct behaviour in case of a malfunction.
The generally recommended number of skydives before one considers BASE, is 200. This will typically give you enough experience with your canopy and allow you more – further more it will increase your chances of getting a mentor, but more on this shortly.
The next step is to read, read and read some more… Understanding what you’re getting into is just as important as the skills preparation and it is recommended that you study all you can about it before going any further. Basejumper.com have a vast range of articles, many of which have been written by professional BASE jumpers and will provide the information that one needs before making the leap, so to speak.
After one has their skydiving experience and has become versed in what exactly BASE is like, it’s time to get involved.The next step is usually to find a mentor or to do a FJC (first jump course). It is best to do both if possible, doing a FJC will introduce you to BASE and have you doing your first jumpers, it will also provide you with a lot of information regarding both gear and your jumping. Here you will be taught how to base jump, it can be thought of as the AFF training of BASE, except less regulated. While a first jump course will prepare you quicker, many jumpers do not attend an FJC and would rather connect with a mentor. A mentor will be someone who is an active BASE jumper and who can teach you themselves, if your attitude is correct and your approach to BASE is positive – finding a mentor often isn’t too difficult. Ground crewing is a great way to enter into the BASE world, you can ground crew for your mentor and offer gas compensation in exchange for their help – beers and food tend to be widely accepted currency too.
It is important to note that the above are guidelines that are typically followed by other jumpers, though there are always exceptions to the rule. BASE does not have a governing organization like skydiving, and because of this many people feel as though one should not impose rules and requirements to those wanting to jump, the sport is seen as one of freedom. But in the same breath, each fatality negatively impacts the community and most jumpers want to ensure that new comers are prepared enough to take on what comes with jumping.
What you need to know…
It’s very important that every individual who wants to become a BASE jumper understands that this is not an easy journey, it will take years and thousands of dollars before you are able to fly wingsuits like you saw on youtube. It also needs to be reitterated that BASE jumping is an extremely dangerous sport, and death or injury is a very real possibility.
By base jumper