Jun 9, 2005, 4:38 PM
Post #1 of 88
Vintage BASE Jumping Stories . . .
Al's great story about Frank Donnellan made me realize that maybe we need a history thread for "vintage" BASE jump stories. Something that will pop up now and again as BASE veterans who aren't regular posters blow through here . . .
I've been trying to come up with good one to start it off, and since the Park is the topic of late I'll kick it off there.
This is my first jump from El Cap and I had about sixty or seventy lower BASE jumps already. I'm with my then girlfriend (and still good friend) Anne H. and we wanted pictures but didn't want to risk any of the cameras we made a living with at the drop zone. We fabbed up a quickie Protect helmet system with a cheap camera and off we went. We had an easy hike up from Tamarack where we left the car and spent the night snuggling on top. I awoke about an hour before first light and wandered around a bit. I gloried in the fact that Carl Boenish stood here, right where I was now, and I offered up a silent thanks for all he did for us.
Geared up we waited until the very minute we could just make out the meadow below. We kissed and lovingly patted down each other's shrivel flaps. I walked to the edge where El Cap's brow curved downward and took a breath. Anne is behind and to my left and I hear her sweet voice whisper, "Are you ready, Darling?"
I look back at her glowing beautiful face and take it in like I may never see it again and say, "Okay Sweetheart, let's go." I'm not afraid and I know in the next few seconds something I'm never going to forget will happen. I ran down the incline and jumped when I couldn't keep my feet on the rock anymore. I started tracking and once locked in I turned my head to the side and Anne's right there and we are both in a full tilt boogie away from the wall. The need to shout for joy almost overcomes the need for stealth as I strain hard to go further and longer. I know, even then this was special and not something I would get to do a lot. All too soon El Cap Towers flashes by on my right and I stretch another second or so out of it before reaching back for my leg strap mounted pilot chute.
I check my good canopy and looked for Anne. She's under canopy and again right off to my side. I flew across the road and start carving over the meadow. The chill in the early morning air feels wonderful on my overheated body. I think to look for Ranger vehicles below but I really don't give a crap. They could go ahead and lock me up for five years and it still would be worth it.
We landed and stashed our gear, except for the camera, in the tree line. We walked out to the road hand in hand not really having to say anything. We stuck out our thumbs and the first car that passed picked us up. It was a very nice Japanese couple on vacation. They were all excited and in their best broken English they explained we are their first hitchhikers. We giggled at that in back of the car and we are both busting to tell them what we just did, but didn't. They took us all the way back to Tamarack, which was out of their way, and we thanked them profusely. There is a lot of bowing going on from both sides. I waved as they drove off, until Anne shouted, "Oh no, the camera."
I ran after them widely waving my arms but they disappeared around a corner still waving back at us from the windows. Oh well . . .
Anne, who went on to start the BASE gear company Basic Research, reached greater heights in BASE than I ever did but she'll still say if asked her most memorable BASE jump was El Cap with her man. I've grown to understand it was probably more the Cap than the man, but I still love her for saying that. And boy, I wish I was there the day that nice Japanese couple had that film developed . . .
NickD BASE 194
(This post was edited by NickDG on Jun 9, 2005, 8:28 PM)
Here's a story of a jump that almost got me. Before anybody chimes in with what I should or should not have done, I already know the error of my ways. Enjoy
Summer 1995, I had the coolest job a skydiver/BASE jumper could ever want. I worked for Performance designs, the world’s largest and most respected sport parachute manufacture, and I was in charge of the west cost demo tour. Basically my duties were to drive around the country in a motor home, visit skydiving centers in almost every state west of the Mississippi, and allow jumpers at each drop zone to try our parachutes, free of charge, all in the hopes of wining their businesses. As one might expect, the tour became my means of scouring the US in search of new BASE sights. When I could not find the sights on my own or they were too sensitive, I would call around to the various BASE manufactures and get numbers and names of locals to hook up with. This strategy worked and worked well but keeping my activities concealed from PD was paramount. After all, I didn’t want to up set the apple cart.
One Sunday afternoon, my partner Seth and I were finishing up a weekend at a DZ in Colorado and we decided to start our search for the object we would be jumping that week. We opened our newly acquired aircraft sectional that showed a nice 2000’ antenna tucked neatly away in an isolated corner of Nebraska. As luck would have it, it was on our way to our next stop. After a few hours of driving, we found our selves at the base of the tower. Fifteen minuets later, the elevator was running. Wasting no time, we both made two quick jumps that night before falling asleep in the van at the base of the tower waiting for sun to come up. When the sun came up, we got busy. It was when we landed from our second jumps that we came up with what can only be described as a hair brained idea of spectacular proportions. Instead of wasting time packing our BASE rigs and going again, why not jump some of the skydiving rigs we had in the van? After all, the tower was 2000’ was it not? Hell, that’s almost a skydive. What could possible go wrong? I love hind sight. Things went fine for a while. We’d take a leisurely elevator ride to the top of the tower and away we’d go. Once on the ground, we’d toss the recently opened rigs into a pile and grab another from the van. We made sure the rigs we choose all had large canopies in them. This we reasoned would be the safest. On the fifth jump I found out just how wrong we were.
It was our fifth jump of the day and Seth went first. As he fell away, he quickly became a tiny dot, barely visible against the ground below until his brightly colored saber 210 opened right on heading. He landed on the freshly plowed dirt below, and now it was my turn.
Sporting a fancy new Javelin J-5, complete with a PD210 main and a PD218R reserve, I launched. As I free fell, I caught sight of Seth standing below. I decided that it would be cool to track right at him and take it nice and low in order to give him the best visual if the jump. As I tracked straight for him, he grew larger and larger when suddenly I noticed that I could see he was laughing. I figured that was probably a good time to pull. Everything up to this point was going smoothly but that was about to change. I reached for and pulled the pilot chute from its pouch and pitched it into the air. That was the precise moment that absolutely nothing happened. Wouldn’t you know it? I looked over my shoulder and saw that the pilot chute was not inflated. Of all the rotten luck… Any way, realizing that I had no time to mess around, I went straight for the reserve rip cord handle. I pulled, and felt the familiar pop as the reserve pilot chute launched of my back. A split second later I was open. I looked up expecting to see my reserve canopy but instead I saw that my main parachute had finally decided to get in the game, but there was a catch. The canopy had severe line twists below the slider and, to make matters worse, it was flying straight towards the tower. There was no way I’d be able to kick out of the line twists before I spanked the steel.
Just then, I felt something tugging on my right foot. I looked and saw that the bridle of the reserve pilot chute had some how become entangled with my foot and out of the corner of my eye I could see the free bag falling away. I grabbed the bridle and attempted to pull it in before the canopy came out of the D-bag but I was not fast enough. The canopy came out of the D-bag and began to inflate. It was about this time that I noticed that I was getting very close to the tower and my line twists were not getting any better. With only one option left (and not a very good one at that), I quickly pulled the cutaway handle, taking the chance that the now inflating reserve might do a better job of saving my life than my main had been doing. I dropped away from the main and under the inflating reserve and wouldn’t you know it, the damn thing also had major line twists below the slider, but this time, thankfully, it was flying away from the tower (finally some good luck). I had no time to kick out of the line twits before landing and landing was rough. Were it not for the freshly plowed dirt surrounding the base of the tower, I’m sure that I would have been injured. I lay there for a moment stunned and took a quick mental inventory. Realizing I had survived, finally stood up began knocking the dirt out of my ears and hair when Seth came running up to me laughing hysterically. It took him a good two or three minuets to calm down just enough to say, “Well Kev, I gotta say, there’s never a dull moment when jumping with you” Kevin BASE 390
(This post was edited by KevinMcGuire on Jun 9, 2005, 7:44 PM)
My first jump... It's February, 1982. I haven't made a skydive in about 18 months. I've just come into town to visit with a friend and suggest that we visit the local DZ for a jump but after waiting for an hour watching the scudding low clouds realize a skydive is not going to happen.
"We could go jump off Wxyz. " I idly suggested. The reply was too quick and cool for me. "Yup. Let's go"
Now I'm starting to thinnk... How do I get myself out of this one?
We took our sliders and tied them to the connector links with pull-up cords then layed the lines in the bottom of the pack trays in figure eights and free packed the mains on top of the mess. I had a 1978 WonderHog with a Strato-Flyer and a Preserve III. Belly band, blast handle 28" pilot chute. All the while we were guessing what would make a good BASE pack-job. We really had no idea and all I could think of was... How the hell am I going to get myself out of this one?
Mid day on Sunday. Low cloud base. 1500' tower. Large, Brand X jumpsuit. Four hours after starting we're at about 1450' and my knees are knocking like castinets. (They still do) I have to wait for eons to reach that inner calm that lets me release my vise-grip on the steel. The clouds are coming down and we gotta go! Aw Shit! I leaned out and let go.
I took about a nano-second of a delay and waited forever for a canopy.
It ain't much of a story but that's what most of us who had heard of BASE and hadn't been tutored by anyone got into it at the time. We soon found that the heat would come if we went during the day and started to go at night adding to the thrill. Foggy days were OK and some times it wouldn't burn off so you had to go off into the unknown but at least we knew we hadn't been seen.
Here's a story of a jump that almost got me. Before anybody chimes in with what I should or should not have done, I already know the error of my ways. Enjoy Summer 1995, Kevin BASE 390
Well, I guess not too long after that(1995) and maybe even before that time!??!!??! I saw my first BASE jump up close and personal!! It had been burning in me already for quite some time when a friend called and said that some jumpers from the States were to be passing through that he knew and wondered whether I wanted to check it out!! DUH!! Of course I was jacked to see this first hand so I showed up at the spot I was told to go to at 4am-ish. The jumpers were already on the tower when I arrived at the "invisible van" parked n the side of the road. The object is right in here in the city and stands about 800 feet high. I could see their (2) silhouettes against the sky through the binoculars and remember a feeling of such excitement just being there! As the dawn broke one of the jumpers walked out 8-10 feet balancing on a piece of steel just a few inches wide. He walked out to the point where the guy wires attach and stood there. Then his arms went out and up...that 45 degree angle and he held them there for several seconds and then......he jumped and it looked so slow, calm and wonderful. Then the reality as the opening sound hit the ground......KA-BAMMM!!! I was shocked! I had no idea how noisy a slider down jump would be in the crisp, cool morning air. That jump sticks with me very much and always has! That jumper was Kevin McGuire!! Thanks Kevin! That was a riot! Do you remember the cliff I showed you first as we drove towards Banff?? You guys were bagged and didn't think it looked too promising. Spence (587) would open it a few years later and it is regularly jumped these days. Anyway, just a story from 10 years ago that is still vivid and puts a smile on my face! Here is a pic of that cliff Kev!
(This post was edited by SabreDave on Jun 10, 2005, 12:59 AM)
Do you remember the cliff I showed you first as we drove towards Banff?? You guys were bagged and didn't think it looked too promising. Spence (587) would open it a few years later and it is regularly jumped these days.
Here is a pic of that cliff Kev!
I sure do remember that cliff and I remember that Antena. That jump always stick out in my mind. What a great view I had up on top of that antena. Good one Spence for opening up that cliff.
If I remember rightly I read about Nick putting together a book on BASE history. Has it been published? If not, can anyone recommend a book that covers BASE history? - preferably one readily available.
I don't think Nick's book has hit the stand yet. But I'm in for a first edition, for sure.
In reply to:
...can anyone recommend a book that covers BASE history? - preferably one readily available.
There's not really a good BASE history book.
Pretty much the only two things that have reached print are BASE 66 by Jevto Dedijer, and Groundrush by Simon Jakeman. The only one that's still in print, and easy to acquire is BASE 66. Both of those books are "one man's experience" books, though, rather than historical surveys.
There are also several other interesting historical bits floating around on the web, which I haven't got time to dig up. Perhaps others will post some links. You might also have a look at NickDG's historical video lecture, which is on the Skydivingmovies.com server.
This one isn't vintage, but I'm stuck here in iraq and bored so I'll write it. It was my very first building jump. My buddy and I were planning on jumping an A, but the winds happened to be perfect for a recently opened building. It had been 2 or 3 weeks since the winds had cooperated for this building. We drive to the site and park in a near by alley. Roll on into the building and take the elevater to the 19th floor. Then enter the stairwell that says "No roof access". we make our way up the stairs and into the generator room without detection. The engines are running so loud its hard to hear yourself, but I could still hear my heart pounding like crazy. we go through the generator room and into the next room. Out of nowhere a worker comes up from behind us. At this point I think "well looks like I'm going to jail tonight", but that didn't happen. My buddy starts making up some lame ass story about how we where looking for his little brother and we where playing hide-n-go-seek and it worked. Which is amazing to me because we both had are stash bags on. The worker was hispanic and I don't think understood what we where saying. He told us to leave and I just thought we would role out and go jump that A, but the worker walked away and left us in the room. we ran outside, ran up the ladder, and hid behind an air vent on the roof. At this point we where both freaking out. We waited about a half an hour and decided that we weren't busted and geared up. PC in hand walked to the corner of the building and stood there for what seemed like an eternity waiting for traffic to clear. Finally, no cars, no wind, just me my awesome buddy and the edge of the building. I jumped pitched opened on heading turned 90 right and landed in the middle of the road. I started packing up and I heard my buddy open up. He had a 90 left and was bringing it back around when he clipped a light pole with his left stabilizer. I watched him start swinging. I dropped my gear and started running towards him. As I got closer I noticed that the canopy was blowing freely. He had cut away and fell 15 feet to the ground cracking his heal bone. Then ran down the wrong alley and jumped 2 or 3 barb-wire fences with a broken foot. I ran back and grabbed my gear. We met up at the car and took off. His Flik with about 40 jumps forever gone. I was super bummed about his canopy, but he just was pleased I got my building. That is what its about. Shit happens, but he was still thrilled about the jump and that I finally got my building. I will never forget that night for the rest of my life. The ups and downs and spending time with a good friend, who rather than be upset about a lost canopy, was just happy for me getting my B. that is what BASE is all about. The experiences and the friendships you build with each other.
Bryan BASE 943
(This post was edited by Bryguy1224 on Jun 11, 2005, 11:01 PM)
Great story. Proof once again that stories don't need to be vintage to be cool. Thanks and keep them comming.
What you are about to read is a message I sent to someone about telling their story. I'm posting it here so that maybe it will inspire others to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards. ----------------------------------------------------------- I really like reading other peoples stories. If you haven't already, then you should write more of your stories down. Hell, the best writers in Hollywood could not make half the shit that we as BASE jumpers have been through. I have written many stories and I've noticed that most of them involve some kind of near death experiences, that when looked back upon, are actually very funny. How twisted it that? I've got several more stories that I intend to post but like you said, they can be kind of embarrassing. Particularly when so many in these forums prefer to project images of perfection rather than humility. Oh well, Fuck um. The way I see it, no one has the right to laugh at anyone else until they can first laugh at them selves. Besides, I write more for my children and grandchildren than I do for my peers in these forums. Kevin