Base Jumping – A Professional Perspective


Professional Aussie BASE jumper Chris McDougall, otherwise known as “Douggs” has performed an amazing 2,800 jumps in 40 countries to date. But he still gets scared.  In an interview with “A Winning Personality” (AWP) website, Chris revealed that he’s always very scared when he jumps or whenever he does anything else involving high risk. So how does he manage to continue to pursue his interest in a sport which is statistically the most dangerous of all extreme sports?

Chris has written about his experiences in BASE jumping on his own website and in his book, “Confessions of An Idiot”. His aim in life is to have more fun than anyone else on the planet and he may well be achieving that in his own way. Of course – launching yourself off the side of a cliff in a wing-suit isn’t everyone’s idea of fun – but it’s certainly about as exhilarating as life gets – and the continued fear is, of course, vital in keeping the thrill alive and keeping yourself alive at the same time. Hopefully, these two slightly opposing factors are well-known to all lovers of extreme sports.

The Switzerland-based Douggs told AWP that he doesn’t easily overcome his fears, but that he’s learned to be able to control his fear in appropriate situations. He also points out that the fear is logical as it keeps you safe. If you have no fear – that’s when all extreme sports become really dangerous.

He must be doing something right to still be around after such a long career. And key to his success and longevity is all about taking calculated risks to maximise the thrill and maximise safety simultaneously. As you may imagine, Douggs assesses height, landing conditions, distance to landing, degree of overall difficulty, and the local weather conditions – then he puts all this together with the way he’s feeling on the day of the jump before deciding whether to go ahead. All these factors are also crucial for him in deciding exactly how to go about it IF he is going to jump.

This is a man who enjoys extreme sport with what he terms “consequences”. We’ve all seen with other BASE jumpers exactly what those consequences can be. The list of fatalities due to BASE jumps going wrong in some way is long and sobering. In 2012, there were 19 fatalities whilst 2013 has already surpassed that number with a way to go yet. Let’s be clear; this is one dangerous sport.

But Chris believes that having his eyes open to the risks makes him more careful about his sport – and far more aware of the risks we all take in our everyday lives.

Perhaps most importantly for anyone even beginning to consider BASE jumping; Chris has decided not to jump on many hundreds of occasions, following his survival philosophy of completely eliminating the risks associated with this most dangerous of all sports if he possibly can.

And he doesn’t recommend BASE jumping as a choice for anyone else; this is a very personal thing for him. As he puts it: “bungee jumping and roller coasters are great ways of sh***ing your pants in a low-risk environment!”