The Basics of BASE Jumping

What is BASE jumping or B.A.S.E. jumping? It is essentially a form of skydiving that requires the participants to jump from any fixed object and then break the fall using a parachute. The term ‘BASE’ is an acronym, where each letter stands for different fixed objects; ‘B’ stands for buildings, ‘A’ stands for antennas, ‘S’ stands for spans (bridges) and ‘E’ stands for earth (cliffs). The discussion below will offer you more information about these fixed objects.

BASE Jumping Gears

This particular act involves use of ram-air parachutes that are known for boasting a number of advanced features. It is often said that the 1966 accident in El Capitan that caused severe injury to the jumpers occurred primarily due to the use of round parachutes of the previous generation. Ram-air parachutes allow more comfortable and safer BASE jumping experience.

How does a ram-air chute look? These parachutes boast rectangular structures, which allow the jumpers to enjoy better control over speed and direction as soon as the chutes get deployed. Although BASE jumping is a variation of skydiving, there are significant dissimilarities between the gears used in these two extreme sports. In addition to that, the equipment used by BASE jumpers is usually costlier than those used by skydivers; for instance, you will need to spend $1,200 to $1,500 for purchasing a parachute manufactured particularly for being used in BASE jumping.

A BASE jumper must know the procedure of overcoming two principal obstacles; they are: the BASE object’s proximity and low altitude. A skydiver typically needs to open his/her chute when at an altitude of around 2,000 ft. As a result, he/she gets enough time for deploying the chute gradually by means of a special device called ‘slider’. Base jumpers overcome these two obstacles by incorporating certain alterations into the regular skydiving equipment. For instance, you will often come across base jumpers who use a bigger pilot chute. A pilot chute can be best described as a small parachute, which drags open the actual chute more promptly.

Fixed Objects Used in BASE Jumping

In the introductory paragraph, we have already mentioned the 4 fixed object types the BASE jumpers usually jump from. The section below involves brief discussion on each of these four objects.

Buildings: Jumping from a building or monument is quite difficult. The main reason behind this is that the majority of these places have locked doors, heavy security and several other obstacles that would prevent BASE jumpers from reaching the top or leaping off. Thus, usually the jumpers prefer under construction skyscrapers for practicing this extreme sport.

Antennas: Many opt for antenna towers instead of buildings as often these towers are as high as the tallest buildings of the world.

Spans: A bridge or span that crosses over a large gorge or canyon is perfect for BASE jumps.

Earth: Here, the term ‘Earth’ is used for any large natural formation that is appropriate for practicing BASE jumps. It can be a canyon, a gorge, a fjord or a cliff. In fact, BASE jumping started on El Capitan, a huge vertically positioned rock lying in the Yosemite National Park of the United States.

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