An ‘unofficial’ death count of 254 between 1981 and 2015, means base jumping is simply the most dangerous of extreme sports.
Those numbers do not even include wingsuit flying – a category which comes under base jumping – a sport where Mark Sutton, the stuntman who skydived into the Olympic opening ceremony at the start of London 2012, only died as recently as 2013 after crashing into a ridge on the Swiss-French border.
Research published by Soreide recorded that in an 11-year period, nine fatal accidents were registered from 20,850, equivalent to one in every 2,317 base jumps. To compare this against skydiving, where there is a death rate of one death in every 101,083 jumps, emphasises the dangers that base jumping carries.
So, why do it? Why participate in such a lethal sport, where for the sake of a few hundred seconds, it risks your own life?
To understand it, research was conducted by a base jumper himself into fellow base jumpers; fellow thrill seekers whose risk radar is non-existent:
“In base jumping, every small thing dictates life or death. It makes me feel vibrant. Extreme sports athletes have the ability to sustain, cope with and enjoy the amount of stress other people would define as bad experiences.”
Dr Omer Mei-Dan, speaking to the Telegraph
Stress is the key component, here. Of course, the rush of blood running through your veins at 1000mph is appealing(ish), but the way to manage the stress; the thought of what you’re about to do, and its consequences is what allows these base jumpers to participate in the sport:
“These types of people are wired completely differently. Base jumpers are immune to PTSD [post-traumatic stress].”
This lack of stress, minimal thought into risk, not overthinking ‘what could happen’ allows the base jumpers to jump off anything from cliffs to skyscrapers:
“Over there, The Shard. Done that. Wembley Stadium. We did that. Security got us when we landed on the pitch.”
Dan Witchalls, British base jumper
Withcalls highlights how the emotion a jump creates, and the thrill it puts upon an individual is something which can not be compared to, or understood by someone who hasn’t completed a jump.
An initial curiosity driven to an addiction, base jumping is something you can not just ‘stop’. The want to do something more out of the ordinary; more impressive; more daring is what spurs these guys on more than anything.
The unrivalled addiction and thrill where risk is just not worth a single thought.
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