Author Archive for john
I’ve been very reluctant to post this video publicly. Partially because I didn’t want the attention and criticism it will bring and partly because I didn’t want to frighten those who are close to me. As time has passed I think thats its important to show the bad as well as the good. I’ve posted a lot of jumping vids over the past couple years and its been all fun and high fives but there is obviously a dark side to it as well.
Having said that I have openly accepted the consequences of my actions and fully understand the risks involved. Taking everything into consideration I still choose to do it and will do so until I decide that its no longer worth it.
Just to give a little background on the jump in question.
This was my 9th day in Idaho and this jump was my 3rd or 4th that particular day. We jumped a 270′ cliff at sunrise then did a couple jumps off the bridge for practice and waited for sunset to go to this cliff. When jumping cliffs you typically want little to no wind and based on the forecast thats how it worked out that day.
We drove out to the spot and then walked to the exit point which was about 15mins away. I was extremely confident when we arrived at the exit. I had been visualizing the jump for days after seeing JP (one of the course instructors) do it earlier in the week and I felt ready.
There were two of us jumping – myself and Andy. I opted to go first as he had gone first on a cliff jump that morning.
I visualized what I had to do and then it was game on.
As focused and as present as I thought I was I made an error in judgement. I overstepped my launch foot on exit and the video tells the rest of the story.
Even though the entire time from when I left the edge to when my parachute was flying in a safe direction only took 5 seconds or so it felt like an eternity.
Time slowed down and I have never felt more alive and in control that I have been in those few seconds. I know its a fucked up thing to say and hard to comprehend but as I was flying away from the cliff all I was thinking about was doing it again.
One of the first things I did after dragging my canopy out of the water was get on the radio and say ‘I want a do over!’ to which I got the response ‘I bet you do, Good job not dying’.
Once Andy had landed we packed up our stuff, swam to the other side of the river and hiked out. We went back to the school for a little rest then went and jumped an Antenna that night at like 2 in the morning. I had a brake malfunction on that jump and ended up having a really hard landing and hurt my back.
I was pretty much out of commission at that point but I couldn’t stop thinking about my mistake on the cliff and how I wanted to go back and do it. I knew that if I went home without doing it that it would haunt me forever. I got some broken sleep on the couch at the school and headed back to the cliff the following morning. I was in a lot of pain but nothing was going to stop me from doing it.
The jump went off without issue and I couldn’t have been happier when I landed safely on the ground. I had decided before the jump that it would be my last of the trip so I was able to lick my wounds and relax.
Although I was pretty mad as myself for my error in judgement I’m actually very grateful for the way everything worked out as I had the opportunity to put into practice what I had done in training.
I’m excited, and equally terrified for the journey to continue.
My last update on this blog was almost 3 months ago. Considering I updated it almost everyday for three years thats a long time with no update.
Cool video my friend made from a couple weeks ago. I’m in it a few times flying on my back
Becoming a BASE jumper was one of my life goals for a long, long time but I didn’t have the balls to actively begin the process until 2012. The majority of active BASE jumpers will tell you that step 1 is to get some experience skydiving. As with pretty much everything in life, if you ask 10 people you will likely get 10 different answers. I’ve heard of people requiring as little as 60 skydives and as many as 500 to take an FCJ (First Jump Course). Personally I don’t think that you can put a number on it. It’s going to vary from person to person but the bottom line is that you need some experience flying a canopy.
Step two is to find a mentor or group of local jumpers. I kept my mouth shut around the drop zone in the early days as going around telling everyone you want to be a BASE jumper is not a good idea. After I had my license I befriended a guy that I had heard was a BASE jumper and hammered him with questions for six months or so before he invited me to ground crew for them one night. I did this half a dozen more times over the course of another six months before my friend told me he thought I was ready. At the time I had about 150 skydives. I had also done 4 ballon jumps in preparation which I highly recommend. Heres a video from my first balloon jump.
Twin Falls Idaho is where 95% of the world learns to BASE jump. People literally come from all over the world to jump here. I BASE terms it’s one of the safest objects in the world to jump from. Well, safeish I had originally planned to go to the bridge with the local crew but scheduling didn’t work out so I decided to take a course. I literally checked out as many off them as I could find. The requirements, price, length of time, quality of instruction, experience of instructors, and number of participants in course course varied dramatically. I’m not one to say to ever talk about things I know nothing about so I can’t comment on all the courses I didn’t do, only the one I did.
I decided to take Tom Aiello’s course at Snake River BASE Academy. Their Fundamentals of BASE course is four full days that is jam packed with more information than I can even summarize here. Some of the things that really stood out for me with this course were:
1- They have a school where you can pack inside, debrief each jump, watch videos, and listen to lectures.
2- They have over 30 rigs so each student has a min of 5 when you go to make jumps. This allows you to do jumps back to back vs having to pack in between each jump.
3- They offer three other courses to help you progress through BASE. This one was huge for me. I am a knowledge whore and when I become interested in something I usually go crazy attending courses trying to soak up as much as I can from the best people I can fight. I’ve done this in the world of Fitness, Mindset, Martial arts, as well as a couple other areas that I can’t really categorize.
Four days of very high stress – mentally and psychically. We had two days of classroom stuff and two days of jumping. The weather was a little sketchy so our group only completed ten jumps during the course which I think is low but regardless it was amazing. I’m headed back out in June to redo the course and to take the next one which will involve cliff jumps
Once you have attended any of Tom’s courses you are welcome to come back and audit them again FREE OF CHARGE and you can use the school to pack AND you can use his rigs – Pretty fuckin cool!
This is only the beginning. Below I’ve linked a little montage of all my course jumps and then linked the raw footage so you can hear Tom’s commentary. He does this for very jump, on every course. He is a true master.
Hope you enjoy.
No words right now for last weekend. It’s safe to say that I’m addicted!
Tomorrow morning I leave for Idaho for 6 days to begin BASE jumping. BASE jumping is basically parachuting off a fixed object. For anyone who doesn’t know (I know some of my clients read this blog on occasion) BASE is an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth which are the 4 most common objects people jump from. There are many differences than skydiving but the main ones to point out are – you have one parachute instead of two, you jump from fixed objects, and it’s much faster.
The above points are just a few reasons as to why its much more dangerous than skydiving. If a malfunction does occur you have very little time to correct the problem.
I can’t really explain what has brought me to this point. I’ve always been attracted to things that scare me. When I was a kid my friends and I used to hangout on building sites a lot and climb scaffolding and sit on roofs of 6 story buildings and I think that laid the ground work. I remember there was an old abandoned hospital the we used to call ‘The Spooky’ and we pretty much made it our home when we weren’t in school. The building still had wheelchairs in the corridors and old equipment and occasionally we came across homeless people living there. Over the course of 5 years they ended up cleaning the whole thing out and converted it into a nursing home but during that time we would go up on the roof regularly and just hang out.
I think the desire to feel fear and overcome it has been built into me since those early days. I’ve progressed through several extreme sports and this feels like the culmination of it all but is by no means the end.
My first skydive was in 2007, I got my license in 2012 and its all been leading up to this point. I have wanted to BASE jump since I knew it was possible. It’s only been an actual goal since 2012 when I laid out the path and started the journey towards accomplishing it.
There are many things in life that people say they want but until you actually take the time to sit down and map out what it will take to get there and start taking the necessary steps it will just stay a dream.
The course I’m going to be doing is 4 days. The first is all class room stuff. Believe it or not there is a lot of preparation that goes into jumping off a bridge with a parachute. I’ve read 4 or 5 books, watched countless videos, spoken to people with experience, and done 150 skydives in preparation for this weekend. Depending on who you talk to some may even say that I have not done enough preparation.
Over the other 3 days I’ll do approx 15 jumps depending on the weather. I’m scared, excited, confident, scared, nervous, focussed, and scared
As always I will have my camera with me to record my journey so stay tuned. I’m not sure if I’ll make time to update until I get back but I’ll probably post on FB at some point during the weekend.