If you thought skydiving was extreme, then BASE jumping takes it to a whole different level. Definitely not something for the faint hearted, BASE jumping offers one of the most challenging, exhilarating and downright dangerous activities imaginable.
Jumpers use modified parachutes to leap from fixed objects and land masses, giving rise to the acronym from which the sport gets its name – Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), Earth (cliffs).
While not strictly illegal in the UK, jumpers can be arrested for related offences such as trespassing or public order charges. It is directly and indirectly outlawed in many of the most desired destinations, meaning BASE jumpers regularly flirt with prosecution, although a jail term can be the least of their worries as the sport has claimed plenty of lives over the years as well, Little wonder too, when you see some of the perilous cliffs, bridges and skyscrapers which are commonly tackled.
Needless to say, it’s not for beginners and it is not one of those experience days you can try at the drop of a hat. Many BASE jumpers will tell you to get at least 200 ‘regular’ parachute jumps under your belt before even beginning to consider BASE jumping.
When you’re ready, here’s a selection of the some of the world’s most exciting – and notorious – BASE jumping spots:
Lauterbrunnen valley, Switzerland.
Responsible for more BASE jumping deaths than anywhere else in the world, this breathtaking collection of cliffs still attracts daredevils from around the globe. Implausible looking overhangs top the cliffs which overlook serene woods and a chocolate box village. It has of course been the scene of many thousands of successful jumps and even boasts BASE jumping schools for beginners looking to dice with death in search of the ultimate thrill.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
The tallest waterfall in the world stands at a towering 3,212ft, nestled deep in the Venezuelan jungle. It is a challenge to get to, let alone jump off, but the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Canaima National Park scenery makes the views from this unparallelled vantage point worth the trip. Legal, organised trips are common, with jumpers taken by helicopter to the top of the falls.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
If you’re going to jump off a building, might as well make it the tallest building in the world. Construction had barely been completed when two jumpers leapt from a balcony two floors below the top in 2008, while Nasr Al Niyadi and Omar Al Hegelan topped that after the skyscraper had officially opened, breaking the world record for the highest BASE jump from a building with an officially sanctioned leap from the 160th floor, some 2,200ft high.
El Capitan, California
‘El Cap,’ as it’s affectionately known, has been a favourite ‘earth’ location for BASE jumpers since the 1960s when Californians Michael Pelkey and Brian Schubert made the first jump down the 3,000ft vertical cliff drop. Both men suffered broken bones but that did not stop crowds of jumpers flocking to the cliff in Yosemite National Park since to repeat the feat.
Jinmao Tower, Shanghai, China
For urban excitement, few spots compare with the bustling metropolis below when jumping from the 88-storey Jinmao Tower in Shanghai. Although it has recently been overtaken as the tallest building in mainland China, it put the country on the BASE jumping map in 2004 when crowds watched a team of jumpers taking part in a promotional event to show off their skills by parachuting down from the 1,380ft skyscraper.
Perrine Bridge at Twin Falls, Idaho
A professionally-run, ‘safe’ jumping spot, offers legal jumps every day of the year, with a wooden platform set up for jumpers to hurl themselves towards the Snake River 480ft below.
New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia, USA
Another safely maintained spot, it hosts one of the largest gatherings of BASE jumpers every October for Bridge Day, when hundreds of daredevils from across the globe turn up to leap from the 876ft tall New River Gorge Bridge.
Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur
A long-standing favourite, these Malaysian landmark towers are among the most architecturally striking buildings that jumpers have tackled.
Empire State Building, New York
For many BASE jumpers, tackling a true icon is as much part of the challenge as the jump itself. Buildings don’t come much more iconic that New York’s Empire State. It’s a tough nut to crack though and renowned extreme jumper Jeb Corliss was foiled by security in his attempt to parachute from the observation deck in 2006 and subsequently hit with three years probation, 100 hours of community service and a lifetime ban from setting foot in the tourist attraction.
Old Man of Hoy, Orkney Islands, Scotland
One of the most distinctive jump sites, this 449ft plinth of red sandstone juts out into the sea and was tackled in May, 2008, by Roger Holmes, Gus Hutchinson-Brown and Tim Emmett. Showing the true danger of the sport, Englishman Hutchinson-Brown was killed just days later during another BASE jump from a cliff in Switzerland.
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales
It’s certainly one way to beat the queues on matchday. Three BASE jumpers made quite an entrance ahead of the Wales vs South Africa rugby match in June, 2010, jumping from the roof to the pitch in front of the crowds. A relatively short jump compared to some, but the thrill of performing in front of tens of thousands of spectators adds an extra dimension.
This article has been created by Activity Superstore, the UK’s leading gift experiences supplier.