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Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers?

 

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swovelin  (D 3756)

Sep 9, 2008, 2:59 PM
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Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? Can't Post

Does anyone here remember the old system of "El Capitan BASE Numbers?" As we know, BASE was 'legal' off El Cap only for a brief, glorious moment in the summer of 1980; Alas.

But, IIRC, over a period of years, several hundred jumpers (skydivers) earned their El Cap #s by making that one BASE jump.

I'm one of the very lucky ones; I jumped El Cap in broad daylight on August 25, 1980. (But, I have absolutely no idea what my El Cap # is. Dang.)

Here's the challenge: Is there anyone here who can actually claim to remember his/her own El Cap #? If so, please share the story. (Anonymously, if you like.)

Blue skies,

J


jonstark  (D 8298)

Sep 9, 2008, 4:51 PM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sure I remember El Cap numbers. I have a story too but it didn't get me a number...

I got a 16mm copy of Carl Boenish's first BASE jumping movie and showed it over and over on the huge white wall across the street from my apartment. It got me hook, line and sinker. Man, I'm going!...

My girlfriend and I headed out across country from Savannah, GA to California just to jump off El Cap. We stopped in Crested Butte, CO to participate in the Aerial Weekend (a really great event). There we met Larry Bagley who was the president of USPA. He told us that he was almost done getting a deal from the Park Service to allow for permitted jumping and that if we went we would jeopardize the whole thing so to please not continue with our plans. We acceded to his wish and returned home to Savannah and later heard that the jump had indeed become legal. Hurray! We thought we'd get back in the car in a few weeks and try again. Alas, it was not to be. Those flatbed bums (several of whom are now good friends) blew it for us.

I kept BASE jumping and would have had a BASE number well below 100 had I gotten El Cap. I ended up making that jump 20 years later under cover of darkness with the level of danger orders of magnitude greater thanks to the fear of getting busted.


grimmie  (D 18890)

Sep 9, 2008, 10:56 PM
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Re: [jonstark] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

So who were the "flat bed bums"? And what DZ's did they frequent?


NickDG  (D 8904)

Sep 9, 2008, 11:50 PM
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Re: [grimmie] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

They were actually called the Flat Bed Ten. (Jerry's just having some fun). And they were from Lake Elsinore. They didn't want to hike the whole trail so they moved a barricade and drove a flat bed track up a closed road. And you know, to Rangers that's the equivalent of murder.

But they weren't the only reason the legal jumps were stopped as there were plenty of other skydivers breaking the rules. Jumping with no permits, jumping after their permits expired, or a day before their permits were good, also jumping at night, doing RW, and so on.

But one thing you have to keep in mind is the Park only agreed to try the legal jumps mainly to gather enough ammunition to shut down jumping forever. And after it was over they had it, "See, these guys can't even follow some simple rules."

But it also needs to be said these weren't B.A.S.E. jumpers, they were skydivers. Skydivers out on lark and taking things about as seriously as skydivers take anything. So I've never gotten too mad at them even though we've been paying the price all these years later. But the simple fact is the Rangers had a plan and we didn't . . .

NickD Smile


grimmie  (D 18890)

Sep 10, 2008, 12:04 AM
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Re: [NickDG] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Nick,
I have heard the story over and over but no names go with it. Statute of Limitations is up in the skydive world! Names!
PM me of course!Wink


piper17  (D 3362)

Sep 10, 2008, 6:36 AM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Didn't get to make the jump but I did get to spend four nights in the Yosemite jail with three other skydiving friends for "conspiracy to perform an aerial delivery into a national park". The food was lousy and all the reading material was quite dated. Unimpressed

Not sure if any Yosemite jail numbers were issued.


(This post was edited by piper17 on Sep 10, 2008, 8:10 AM)


klingeme  (D 24728)

Sep 10, 2008, 7:54 AM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bill Booth has one. He was number 318. Mike "Mad Dog" Maguire also has one. He was 377. Both of these were when it was legal. I think they are the only two at UPT that have them.

Mark Klingelhoefer
United Parachute Technologies


itllclear  (D 6366)

Sep 10, 2008, 9:28 AM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

#157. August 4, 1980 - the first weekend it was opened for legal jumping by the park service.


NickDG  (D 8904)

Sep 10, 2008, 11:15 AM
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Re: [grimmie] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've the names written down, but not where I am right now.

But I do remember Ray Cottingham was on that truck. And like I said they took a lot of barbs for it. They were also all suspended, or maybe in the heat of the moment, I don't exactly recall now, banned for life from USPA. But they were eventually let back in.

There are many twists and turns to this thing.

Basically USPA got involved in pushing for legal El Cap jumps because Bill Ottley, Joe Svec, and others all bigwigs at USPA, wanted to make the jump for the same reason everybody else did. They were all fired up by Carl Boenish's films. But being USPA officials they couldn't go do it illegally.

And I was at an early meeting at Perris where some of the rules that were later broken were implemented. At that time I was leaning towards BASE ever since I saw Carl's movie at its first DZ showing at Elsinore in 1978. But at this time, and for a few following years, the BASE community was so small as to be none existent. So basically this was a bunch of skydivers deciding how it should work and none of them knew anything about BASE.

But when the jumps were stopped by the Rangers USPA dropped the whole thing like a hot potato and left everyone else who wanted to jump legally swinging in the breeze. Some of these people were actually holding permits that were now useless.

But everyone at USPA who wanted to make a jump did, so they got theirs and the heck with anyone else. And all of sudden they came out with the line that BASE had nothing to do with skydiving and they officially recommended their members not engage in it. This also began the ban on even mentioning BASE in PARACHUTIST. A ban that lasted over twenty years.

Some years later I was in Bill Ottley's office on another matter and noticed the largest photo on his wall was his El Cap jump. And I said, "You screwed a lot us on that one, Bill." But he went on about it being a board decision and for the good of skydiving, blah blah, bla."

By that time I was B.A.S.E. jumping myself but I shunned El Cap because of all the horror stories coming out of the Valley concerning the Rangers. Especially the Yosemite Dungeon and the kangaroo court all busted jumpers appeared in. I was publishing a BASE magazine by then and the things I was hearing from busted jumpers didn't even sound like America to me. To use a more recent reference it was Gitmo in the wilderness.

But I finally sneaked in and out of the Park in the early nineties when I felt experienced enough (a lot of practice off downtown buildings) to not get caught. And I'm El Cap #680 . . .

NickD Smile


grimmie  (D 18890)

Sep 10, 2008, 2:19 PM
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Re: [NickDG] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

My wife is a Deputy DA. One of our best friends is a Superior Court judge. We were discussing the arrests made at Yosemite. They both can't believe they throw you in jail for "Aerial delivery with out a permit' trumped up charges. Also the gear confiscation is ridiculous.
But after 42 years of courtroom time between the two of them, it came down to "The Feds do what they want, when they want, and no BASE jumper is gonna have a chance."
Our judge friend was so pissed she wrote a letter to the Feds about it. No reply of course.
They must have thousands of dollars in BASE gear stored somewhere.


swovelin  (D 3756)

Sep 10, 2008, 4:43 PM
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Re: [itllclear] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yo Harry:

Thanks a lot for the info! You jumped El Cap exactly three weeks before I did. (Gee, I wonder how many 'virgins' went off in between and were added to the EC# list before me?)

I already had a permit to go back for a 2nd El Cap jump. It was only a few days later, but, alas, it was not to be; NPS had shut us down by then.

Nick D. You were exactly correct; the people jumping El Cap that summer weren't really BASE jumpers at all. We were just a bunch of yahoo skydivers who thought we were off on a lark in the park.

Good memories!

Jerry


jonstark  (D 8298)

Sep 10, 2008, 4:52 PM
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Re: [NickDG] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
But I finally sneaked in and out of the Park in the early nineties when I felt experienced enough (a lot of practice off downtown buildings) to not get caught. And I'm El Cap #680 . . .

NickD Smile


I aid climbed the face of El Cap four times before the idea returned jump it. The first time I went up too early in the season and got turned back by snow. The second time there was too much traffic coming and going and parking in unusual places in the darkness of the valley floor. I got scared. Third time's the charm.

BTW... The driver of the "Flatbed 10" has a lot of jumps off the Perrine and is a good friend of Jimmy and Marta.

jon


dudeman17  (D License)

Sep 11, 2008, 9:29 AM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember the number system. Carl had patches made for I think the first 500. I've got one. I first did El Cap in Oct. of '81, the year after the legal jumps.

Here's a bit of perspective: El Cap was my first BASE jump. My El Cap number is four hundred something. My BASE number is under twenty.


headoverheels  (D License)

Sep 11, 2008, 4:19 PM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

 
#93, although "El-Cap 88" may have been scrawled on the Yosemite jail cell wall. Angelic Five people had apparently snuck up there since the previous week.


base570  (D 18063)

Sep 15, 2008, 11:37 PM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Jerry!! Hope you are well!

Here is a good story... not mine but still Tongue

August 25, 1980: Five jumpers came off El Cap late at 8:45am. One of these jumpers hit ranger Darren's horse with his canopy, spooking the horse. She had to dismount to calm the animal. The U.S. Magistrate partially accepted their explanation that they were delayed by Blue Schwabe's accident. They were given three months probation and $25 fine, suspended on all five.

Jason
BASE 570


In reply to:
Yo Harry:

Thanks a lot for the info! You jumped El Cap exactly three weeks before I did. (Gee, I wonder how many 'virgins' went off in between and were added to the EC# list before me?)

I already had a permit to go back for a 2nd El Cap jump. It was only a few days later, but, alas, it was not to be; NPS had shut us down by then.

Nick D. You were exactly correct; the people jumping El Cap that summer weren't really BASE jumpers at all. We were just a bunch of yahoo skydivers who thought we were off on a lark in the park.

Good memories!

Jerry


base570  (D 18063)

Sep 15, 2008, 11:46 PM
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Re: [grimmie] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Nick,
I have heard the story over and over but no names go with it. Statute of Limitations is up in the skydive world! Names!
PM me of course!Wink


They are...
J.D.
G.G
C.W.
M.K.
R.P.
R.T.
J.M.
D.M.
R.C.

Nick guessed one... anyone else want to guess?

Actually the "flatbed 10" was a truck that had some 20 people on it. Only 10 were charged that helped to remove the barricade.

Jason
BASE 570


base570  (D 18063)

Sep 16, 2008, 12:03 AM
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Re: [jonstark] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
... Alas, it was not to be. Those flatbed bums (several of whom are now good friends) blew it for us.

El Cap was shut down for many reasons, the "flatbed incident" being only one, albeit the biggest.
During the Cliff jumping program there were approx 10 injuries/incidents ranging from false bee stings to broken bones, wall strikes to cutaways.
There were also approx 10 infractions of park regulations during the Jumping program. These infractions were mainly jumping outside of permit hours but also included a few "driving on closed roads"

Jason
BASE 570


mjosparky  (D 5476)

Sep 22, 2008, 3:12 AM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Jerry,

El Cap #270. Attached is Certificate and patch.

Sparky
Attachments: elcap.jpg (178 KB)


iambeav2  (D 29842)

Sep 22, 2008, 4:44 AM
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Re: [grimmie] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

I actually have bad news about the gear storage. If done "correctly" according to Federal/State park regulations...the confiscations are incinerated, and in a VERY short amount of time. My uncle is a Federal Park Ranger and he said that most of the time it's only that way (the law) for the states w/ something jumpable w/in the park (any B.A.S.E.). He informed me of this when he found out I was a skydiver, but also told me how he thought it was BS (cuz they don't just incinerate rigs, but bikes for illegal biking, skateboards, blah blah blah), but he enjoyed watching the jumping, and after they would land (if he was on the scene), he'd come up, congratulate/thank for the entertainment, and then encourage an expedited exit before more than just him shows up...

Yay for my uncle, gay for the laws...


swovelin  (D 3756)

Sep 25, 2008, 5:15 PM
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Re: [mjosparky] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yo Sparky:

Thank you! That's just the info I was hoping for.

You earned El Cap # 270 on Aug 28th. I jumped it just 3 days earlier. So, now I've got a pretty good idea of what my own El Cap # must have been.

Also, look at the amazing progression that month: Harry jumped El Cap just 3 weeks earlier, on Aug 4, and he is EC# 157.

Thanks for posting the photo of your EC patch and Cert too! That brings back good memories of than once-in-a-lifetime summer in the Park!

J


tbrown  (D 6533)

Sep 25, 2008, 6:35 PM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've believed for years that my number was 159. Dave Schulz told me he got that over the phone straight from Jean Boenish. But my friend John Bull, who jumped the very next day is #172 and the Park Service was only granting a dozen permits a day. So I don't really know what my number is anymore, or if I even have one. But I jumped (legally) on Sunday August 10, 1980. I had gone back down the trail into the woods to try to find Jimmy Davis, who had fallen behind and never made it into camp the night before. Jimmy spent the night in the woods, sleeping in his canopy ( a Comet 300) and was packing it when we found him. We got him to hustle on the double and just got back in time to meet the 8:30 deadline by about 5 minutes. I did get a second permit for September, but that was followed by a polite but firm letter informing me that my permit was rescinded.

One of the "abuses" I heard of that weekend was when the late Norton Thomas from Antioch apparently jumped without a permit and gave the Rangers his buddy Steve Haley's name. Not long afterward, Haley jumped and had to prove he was in fact the real Steve haley, and then the rangers wanted to know who the hell this other 13th guy was. Norton & Haley were also well known for their parts in the first CRW 8 stacks at Livermore and there are several pictures of their CRW antics in Andy Keech's "Skies Call 2" Norton later disappeared over the Pcific, flying a cargo plane to Hawaii. Norton was also a full fledged Hells' Angel, mentioned as "Norton Indian" in Sonny Barger's autobiography, for the Indian bike he drove. Barger mentions Norton's last flight in the book. As to whether there was any connection, who knows ?


(This post was edited by tbrown on Sep 25, 2008, 6:39 PM)


aj4218  (D 4218)

Sep 29, 2008, 7:11 AM
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Re: [swovelin] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

The late Frank Donnellan, BASE #12, got El Cap #250 with this jump.

Al Cool
Attachments: ElCap1.jpg (108 KB)
  ElCap250.jpg (126 KB)


NickDG  (D 8904)

Sep 29, 2008, 12:51 PM
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Re: [aj4218] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

That's very cool, Al . . .

NickD Smile
BASE 194


jonstark  (D 8298)

Sep 29, 2008, 6:31 PM
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Re: [aj4218] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Right behind his feet there is a white corner of the diving board. Now there's a bolt there with a hanger on it. Some times there is a 100' rope dangling from that bolt. From a little further to the left of where the picture is taken one can rappel off the end of another rope off of the edge while the pendulum rope is attached to this bolt and go for a major swing 3000' feet above the Valley! It's HUGE! You then ascend the rope. It's pretty airy.

jon

(Frank was pushed)


swovelin  (D 3756)

Oct 3, 2008, 10:01 AM
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Re: [base570] Anyone Remember El Cap Numbers? [In reply to] Can't Post

Jason, due to your excellent memory, I'll have to cop a 'nolo contrede' plea on this one: THAT WAS ME!

My memories are only slightly different from yours. On that long-ago August morning, there were a series of unfortunate delays at the exit point. Most distressing was the post-exit disappearance of our friend Blue (a near-death story for another post) but we were also hampered by the fact that our radios were suddenly rendered unusable by an illegal radio-Evangelist.

We did our best to direct rescue personnel to Blue, then we got off that rock absolutely as fast as we could. As I recall, we exited between 8:30 - 8:35.

Upon landing in the meadow, we were immediately accosted by NPS Rangers. (Including one who's horse was spooked by a jumper's nearby slip & slide landing; she was actually thrown from the animal and dragged a short distance through the wet grass.) The Rangers on scene were most unhappy and they cited the five of us for the usual "illegal aerial delivery" charge.

We had to wait all day for our Court appearance before the soon-to-be-infamous Judge Pitts. We were last on the Court Docket, and we watched as the Judge handed out seemingly harsh sentences for minor offenses by other tourists/campers. (e.g. One old tourist, who got his car stuck in the mud by the side of the paved road, was convicted and fined heavily for THREE offenses: Making an illegal U-turn, failure to control his vehicle, AND driving off-road in a National Park. Sheese. Were were worried!)

Finally our case was called and the Ranger prosecutor laid out his charges. Judge Pitts looked incredulous and then said something like "I can't believe that you are wasting this Court's time with charges against these jumpers. They secured the necessary permits, they jumped on the right day, they landed in the right spot, and their only offense was being less than 5 minutes late? CASE DISMISSED!"

We had absolutely NO IDEA how lucky we were. We made the long drive back to So Cal cursing our luck for being delayed on exit and for being charged at all. Little did we know that we were some of the ONLY jumpers to ever receive leniency from Judge Pitts.

In retrospect, I do regret the incident; I would hate to think that we were "part of the problem" that summer. But I know that if our little mishap hadn't happened at all, the NPS would still have shut-down the BASE permit system, due to the many much more egregious incidents.

With the story now being public (after 28 years), I throw myself on the Court of Public Opinion and plead for mercy.


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