How does one become a BASE jumper?

July 7, 2020 / By yann

5 minute read

There are two types of people: The ones who want to throw themselves (with a parachute) from the highest building in sight and then there are the others. The former are BASE jumpers. The name is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans (bridge) and earth (cliffs).

Why do some people enjoy jumping off the tower of the Olympic stadium when it would be the nightmare of the majority?What is the training required? It’s one thing to want to do it but it is quite different to actually jump for the first time. We asked a few jumpers to learn more about the process to jumping for the first time.

JUMP OFF 2019 athletes
Photo : JF Savaria

The Spark

For Luc Geoffroy, one of the daredevils who jumped from the Olympic stadium tower during last edition of JACKALOPE, it all started when he watched a video of someone jumping at Exit No.6 in Kjerag, Norway. For Bertrand Cloutier, pioneer of the discipline in Quebec, the explanation also has a neurochemical component. He mentions that some people have a very low level of monoamine oxidase (MAO) and that would cause such personality traits as temerity, audacity and creativity. This explains that. With the proper neuronal predisposition, only a spark is needed to set the fire.

Luc Geoffroy / JACKALOPE 2018
Photo : Yann Roy

The First Jump

When Luc saw the video that sparked his passion, he had only achieved one hundred skydiving jumps under his belt, which is clearly insufficient to jump down a cliff where the landing is full of big rocks. He did what every beginner must do: he found a mentor and the one he found was the one and only Bertrand Cloutier. As for every other BASE jumper, if skydiving is not the first love, it becomes mandatory. Just like Luc, Bertrand Cloutier and the well known jumper and instructor Phil Boisjoli completed a few hundred skydiving jumps before to BASE jump. The minimum requirement would be at least 200 skydiving jumps in order to get used to landings and the parachutes. Luc also adds that one thing is more important than anything you can learn and it is the strong desire and gut feeling that you need to jump.

To learn more on Bertrand Cloutier :

Defying Death to Live Better

It is a risky thing to jump down a bridge or any other high platform. Not only do you need at least 150 feet but there are a bunch of other factors to take into account: the wind, the temperature of the air, the presence of electric lines, the profile of the landing and many more. A study made by Norwegian scientist suggests that the risk factor of an accident while BASE jumping is from 0.4% to 0.5%. Do the math for someone who jumped many hundred times such as Bertrand Cloutier and keep it safe. That is the reason why safety comes first and nothing is ever botched. Luc underlines the importance of doing it for the right reasons too. One may wonder what are the reasons that justify such a risk. Phil Boisjoli had something to say about this in a recent interview: “Before the jump, I live in the present moment more than ever and there is only one thing that matters. We jump so we can live better.”

Phil Boisjoli
Photo : Arianne Bergeron

Whose Turn?

If you got infected by the desire to jump off a cliff after witnessing the athletes flying from the stadium tower during JACKALOPE 2019 or simply after watching a video on YouTube, you may be someone with a neuronal predisposition for BASE jumping. You will need a solid training but nothing is impossible. For Luc, it took him only two years to finalize his training in order to be able to jump at Exit No6 in Norway for his 40th birthday. Phil Boisjoli, Bertrand Cloutier and many more experimented jumpers will happily share their knowledge and passion with you. e. If you are happy with your feet on the ground, you will be able to enjoy the show once more during the next JACKALOPE 2021, that is certain!

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