Editor’s Note: My Carpe Diem quest finds me in Belize, borrowing the Radisson Hotel’s wifi. This is Maya country. There is jungle site called Altun Ha that has several old stone structures and a main temple 53 feet high. We continue to head to the Panama Canal.
BASE = Bridges, Antennae, Structures and Earth. That’s what it stands for. Basically, parachuting off tall things and not out of an airplane. Despite the stunt of 4 people last year captured by National Geographic (in print and video), it is illegal at Yosemite. Here’s why:
In 1982 Jimmy Tyler, tried a jump off the face of Half Dome. He did it on a cloudy day with a slight wind. The breeze put him into the wall.
Ion 1988 Mitch Reno did the same and delayed opening his chute and impacted the talus just as his chute was rolling out.
In 1993, when Susan Oatly, jumped off El Cap. She held her head skyward for too long, lost altitude awareness, and backed into the wall in her 15th second of freefall. This jump began the process of insisting people who begin BASE jumping have at least 150 previous parachutes jumps.
The jump that ended it all was in 1999 when 5 jumpers planned a protest jump in front of Park Rangers and the media. Jan Davis was the third to go off while her husband down below filmed it. By prior arrangement, Park Service officials agreed not to prevent the jumps but insisted jumpers would be arrested upon landing and their gear would be confiscated. It’s not against the law to talk about jumping – only the actual jump is a violation. This caused some jumpers to switch to their “B” gear. Jan jumped with a system with an older style leg mounted pilot chute pouch when she was used to jumping a pilot chute stowed in a chest pouch. After a normal delay she instinctively reached for the bottom of the container and after failing to find the pilot chute handle ran out of time before figuring things out.
The 4 man jump of Half Dome was coordinated with National Geographic. They had a still and video crew up top. Kinda like setting up a drag race in a school zone. They should be banned from entering the park in the future.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.” – Dale Evans
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com