0
TomAiello

Boyfriends and BASE

Recommended Posts

I originally wrote this in response to a posting on the “BASE Zone” forum. In the interests of not offending people, I removed it. On further reflection, I have decided that I feel strongly enough about this issue to risk giving offense. It may not be tactful, but I think this needs to be said. If I offend people with it, so be it. I would rather offend a hundred people, and save one life, than have 99 live friends, and one dead one.

There is a saying among BASE jumpers: “Girlfriends Die.” This is not a joke. Why?

Women have a disproportionately high rate of injury and death as student (sub-50 jumps) BASE jumpers. Although there are no definite statistics, I would estimate that while 10-15% of BASE students are women, something like 35% of student accidents happen to women. This is a terrible trend, and the key to changing it lies with the women who are prospective BASE jumpers.

Careful examination of motives (of both the instructor and student) is important for anyone getting into BASE. For a woman being taught by a man, it is absolutely essential.

Because of the issues surrounding women in a heavily male pastime, you need to be extra-careful in screening potential BASE mentors. Be certain that you want to BASE jump for you, not him, and that his foremost concern is your safety, not getting into your pants. From the beginning, you must be strong enough, and smart enough to back out of a potentially dangerous situation. Don’t count on the guys at the DZ to be looking out for you—they may be too busy checking you out.

Things for a woman to look for in a BASE mentor:
1) a qualified woman (since the number of these in the world can be counted on my fingers, you may have difficulty finding one)
2) someone who has no romantic interest in you, and in whom you have no romantic interest
3) someone who treats you exactly as they treat any other prospective student

Things to immediately disqualify a prospective mentor:
1) any degree of sexual tension between you
2) any romantic relationship between you
3) a mentor who is not qualified to teach
4) someone who helps or wants you to shortcut the normal learning progression

I can think of only one case in which a romantic relationship actually helped a woman advance her BASE skills and career, and that was a truly exceptional situation which involved a woman who had already begun jumping, was a very qualified skydiver (more than two thousand jumps), and had rock solid judgment, and a man who was an experienced BASE instructor, as well as one of the worlds most accomplished BASE jumpers. In every other instance that I know of, attempts to combine a romantic relationship with BASE mentoring or instruction have been unqualified failures, usually for the jumping, sometimes for the romance, and often for both.

Some men try to use the mystique of BASE jumping to attract women. There are few seduction tactics as tried and true as “being the teacher” (just ask a Tandem Master). Many women are attracted to the knowledge, confidence, and (supposed) power of a guy who can “teach” them to BASE jump. This is not a secret to the boys. Worse, men are tempted to overstate their qualifications as a teacher when they are interested in a woman. What guy will admit to an attractive BASE-curious skydiver that he isn’t qualified to teach? He will try to impress her with his “expert” credentials, saying “of course I can take you BASE jumping—just stick with me and you’ll go a long way, baby.” If his goal is to get laid, he isn’t an appropriate teacher. Hang out with him, date him, have fun with him, skydive with him, sleep with him—but learn BASE from someone else.

Example: BASE Fatality #43
#43 Erin Engle, July 22, 2001
Cliff Jump
XXX, Italy
Cliff Strike
"Erin is making only her second or third BASE jump. Reports indicate an unstable short delay and a wall strike under canopy."
Erin, who had only two prior jumps, was receiving instruction from her boyfriend.

Some women skydivers are drawn into BASE by boyfriends. This may be a result of the boyfriend’s desire to have a “BASE girl,” or it may simply be because, being exposed to BASE, the woman begins to develop an interest in it. BASE jumping is deeply personal, and there are many reasons to do it. But impressing your boyfriend is not a good one. If he really cares for you, he will let you approach BASE at your own pace, if at all. He may even try to discourage you from BASE jumping (since, as he truly cares for you, he won’t want you to get hurt). In any case, BASE jumping for anyone else (boyfriend or otherwise) is a major mistake, and one an intelligent, independent, strong woman need not make.

Example: Cliff Strike
X has around 100 BASE jumps. His girlfriend Y has less than 20 BASE jumps. X goes on a BASE vacation, and visits (among others) a moderately advanced, but legal, site. Y jumps. Y smacks the cliff. Y needs to be rescued. Y has surgery, and is on crutches for months.

Some women use their feminine charms to get BASE “instruction.” This tactic, which is widely accepted in skydiving, presents a serious danger when transplanted to BASE. In skydiving, if you pick a mentor more for his charms than his skydiving skills, you still have fun, and it’s no big deal. In BASE, this can easily hurt or kill you. Further, this technique rarely works on really qualified BASE instructors, because they are well aware of the “girlfriend problem.” As a rule, if a guy takes you for a BASE jump because he is interested in you, he is probably not giving good instruction to you, and may not be qualified to give it to anyone.

Example: Landing Injury
X is an experienced skydiver with less than 100 BASE jumps. Y is a relatively inexperienced skydiver (around 100 skydives), with no BASE jumps. Y has often used her “girlness” to her advantage skydiving, and decides it will help get her first BASE jump. Y convinces X to take her for her first jump. X takes Y to jump a good beginner object. Y has inadequate canopy control, and pounds in, breaking her leg.

Boyfriends (or guys who are hoping to work up into that position) have a lot of trouble saying “no” to the woman they are involved with (or want to be involved with). When she asks if she can jump a site with him, he is virtually powerless to deny her. He likes to spend time with her, he is flattered that she is interested in his hobby, he wants to please her—of course he will take her. She has to be the one to know this is a bad idea. And as a beginner, she has no way of knowing that. There have been several cases of unqualified women receiving BASE instruction. They didn’t know better, and the guys who did know better were more concerned with finding a way to spend time with them than helping them learn safely.

Example: BASE Fatality #27
#27 Susan Oatly, 1993
Cliff Jump
XXX, XXX National Park, California, USA
Cliff Strike
"Susan is the first XXX fatality and XXX's third overall. She held a head high attitude for too long and backed into the wall in her 8th second of freefall. This jump began the process of insisting people who begin BASE jumping have at least 150 previous parachutes jumps. There is also a side issue involving pretty girls without much experience being handed BASE jumps beyond their abilities. The load organizer is arrested by the Park Service (after staying behind to lead rescue efforts) and charged with manslaughter. The charges are later reduced to aerial delivery."

If you want to BASE jump, remember that your safety should be the primary concern of both yourself and your mentor. Mixing BASE and romance, flirtation, or sexual tension will only impair judgment, and often leads to disaster.

Note: I have removed names of all currently living people from my examples.

Edit: I have removed facts in question from the first example, while I attempt to verify them.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While my girlfriend is seemingly very interested in BASE. I have spent a good deal of time talking her out of it. I also have spent hours on end explaining this phenomena. I told her to be wary of me and especially any others willing to take her on a jump. We've agreed that if she decides to get into it she is going to skydive the hell out of her first BASE canopy followed by a 1st jump course and a lengthy stay at the Perrine.

I definitly think this isn't a joke. I've heard of girls with 60 skydives being taken on BASE jumps by less than qualified people. Not cool at all...

If you are guilty of above offense you should definitly question your motive for participating in BASE. Looking cool isn't worth the death of another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom,
I think one of the quotes about an incident is incorrect. The jumper's boyfriend had quite a few jumps, not 20. Not sure what you would consider enough to be an instructor. Anyway, you might verify that and then correct it.

In this case, the girl had a fair amount of skydiving experience (~600 jumps) so it's not like all parts of the jump were new to her.

Also, what ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions? I thought most skydivers and all base jumpers believed in this concept.

I realize there are some situations were people get in over their heads due to others rushing them through the learning process but I really don't believe that was the case in this incident.

Jay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Tom. That is a very informative article, and I also hope it helps people evaluate some of their actions. Besides the whole knowledge thing, BASE jumping can turn women's hormones on, and make them very horny. A good thing indeed, but not when life is at stake. Am I wrong about this women? Do you not want someone to kiss and hold after you make a BASE jump, just to celebrate life? I want a woman there for me once I survive a BASE jump, but not watching. Think about the what-if scenarios.

An excerpt from my life? OK, this is from the latest email I got from a woman I was hoping would bring sanity into my life with a relationship.

"First, if you get a chance, call me later tonight. By later, I mean around 11 or 12 tonight, I probably won't be home before then. You're afraid of me? I'm afraid of you, but probably not for the same reasons. There is a lot about me you don't know and a lot of shit I have had to deal with in the last few years. My life is finally startiing to make sense and have some direction to it. My life is borderline "normal" these days, as in, not full of hurt, chaos, depression, anger, craziness or worthlessness. From the things you tell me, I feel that having you in my life would bring some of the chaos back, and I'm not sure I am prepared to handle that. By being in a relationship, you take on the other person's joys as well as troubles. And perhaps this is selfish, but I don't really feel like doing that right now. Not with you or with anyone else. Now it is time for me to focus on me and where my life is taking me. I finally feel like I am in a position in life where I might actually be able to do somehting worthwhile and I don't want anything holding me back. Pretty much why I broke up with my ex boyfriend. I wanted to go places and experience all I could in my travels, he wanted me to move to XXXXX and live with him.
You seem like the kind of person who falls in love too fast and too hard."

She knows it. I have a very addictive personality. So addictive that I keep doing things that I know will kill me. I think I can stop, but I don't want to. There's my real danger. I don't think I am an addict, I just think I enjoy things greatly, and don't have a good enough reason to stop.
Honestly, yes, I should quit BASE jumping. It gives me a chance to unleash my craziness and go for a big run with it. Of course, as said above, it will kill me someday. Oh well.
Live life, enjoy life, and have fun.
Peace,
Thomas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I think one of the quotes about an incident is incorrect. The jumper's boyfriend had quite a few jumps, not 20. Not sure what you would consider enough to be an instructor. Anyway, you might verify that and then correct it.



Jay,

Can you tell me where your information is from? I got mine from Italian jumpers present at the accident.

Can you email or PM me with your understanding of his experience level?

Thanks.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

...what ever happened to people being responsible for their own actions? I thought most skydivers and all base jumpers believed in this concept.



Indeed they do. That's why my rant is directed toward the women in the scenario--because they are the ones who are most at risk of being hurt.

I am not trying to say that blame lies fully on either party. My personal belief is that it is the responsibility of each jumper, each and every time they step off an object.

I'm not pointing fingers, or trying to lay blame. Not for past accidents, nor for future events. I don't care who is blamed by whom. Assigning blame for past events is futile. Averting future tragedies is my only goal.

I am hoping that somewhere, one single woman will read this rant and re-consider the manner in which she will approach BASE, and avoid injury or death in so doing.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd add one more thing, Tom. It is downright pathetic to watch some guys trying to get a chick's pants off by danging the fruit of BASE in front of their nose. Pathetic from the perspective of the guy, who confirms in our eyes that he is a total ass, unable to garner sexual gratification in any other more respectable way. And pathetic from the perspective of the chick, who is stupid enough to play with fire (i.e. BASE) just to have some guy drool over her.

Leave the goddamned hormones at home. Almost without exception, it is the more incompetent members of the BASE fraternity who are busy chasing cheap tail with their over-inflated sense of their BASE competence.

Girls, Tom speaks true - any BASE "mentor" who wants in your pants is not to be trusted. Find a male who has some self-control, or better yet find a qualified male mentor who ain't straight! That way, you know he's not got anything but your best interests at heart when he is illustrating the path to BASE to you.

While we are all responsible for our own actions, it is beyond irresponsible for a person to mis-represent the true state of the world to another who in turn lacks the knowledge to accurately judge that false information. In this case, the true responsibility for any tragedies that result is shared BOTH by the one who chose the wrong person to trust in gathering information, and by the person who knowingly spread false information to further another agenda.

Peace,

D-d0g
ddog@wrinko.com
www.wrinko.com
+~+~+~+~
But this, surely, was the glory that no spirits, canine or human, had ever clearly seen, the light that never was on land or sea, and yet is glimpsed by the quickened mind everywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Tom
Thank you for posting that article. I completely agree with you. I don't beleive in throwing your life away over impressing someone. Its unfortunate that some women would do something that could be potentially deadly, for all the wrong reasons. That is not by any means to say that women should not BASE jump, because they are just as entitled to do it as men are, but doing it to impress some asshole is just wrong. If you do it, then you should do it for yourself, and yourself only, because ultimately it is your life that is at stake, and no one else's. And that also goes for the men. Sometimes I think that men its more of a matter of competition, but altimately it is done for the same reasons as with women, and that is in order to impress others.
I have been very lucky to encounter people whose main concearn was my safety and not getting into my pants, and I am a better skydiver now because of it. BASE jumping should be the same. As I see it Skydiving and BASE jumping is about beeing free and finding your self, thus when you are doing it for someone else all the freedom is gone, so whats the point?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Sometimes I think that men its more of a matter of competition...to impress others.



You have pretty much hit the nail on the head there. Be careful, or you'll trigger rant number 2.

There's an old saying, started by Pete Fielding (godfather of Australian BASE) that I'm quite fond of:

"You're not a real BASE jumper until you've gone out and made a BASE jump, totally alone, and never bothered to mention it to anyone."

Maybe not the safest practice, but it does capture the spirit of jumping for yourself quite nicely.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I have a very addictive personality. So addictive that I keep doing things that I know will kill me....Of course, as said above, it will kill me someday.



I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this.

Can BASE kill you? Absolutely. And quite easily at that.

But that's a far cry from saying BASE will kill you. And the problem with that sort of fatalistic mindset is that they often become self-fulfilling prophesies.

I'm not saying pretend that the danger isn't real... it is. But I also wouldn't take up BASE if I was absolutely certain that one day it would kill me. I mean, the last thing you want to have in the back of your mind, even subconsiously, is "I wonder if this is the jump that's going to kill me."

- Z
"Always be yourself... unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

...I also wouldn't take up BASE if I was absolutely certain that one day it would kill me.



I'm going to have to agree with Thomas here.

It may sound morbid, but there are many experienced BASE jumpers who feel that there are two possible ends to a BASE career: Quit or Die.

I don't quite believe that myself, but I certainly once did.

There are very few people who I feel have the skill to make BASE as safe as, say, skydiving. Even fewer of them choose to do so.

One of the highest compliments I can pay to a BASE jumper is to say "he's not going to die BASE jumping." So far, I've said that about four people (tragically, one of them has since died BASE jumping--Blue Skies, Cold Steel).

I know several people who gave up BASE when they reached a certain level of experience, and suddenly realized "oh crap, this really is going to kill me sooner or later." Personally, I think this may be the best decision for all of us, in the end.

Statistically, if you jump long enough, it will put you in the hospital. And equally, if you jump long enough (probably much longer than anyone has, to date), it probably will kill you.

Quote

I mean, the last thing you want to have in the back of your mind, even subconsiously, is "I wonder if this is the jump that's going to kill me."



You may not want to hear this, but that exact thought is in my mind (often at the very forefront) on virtually every jump. When I finished McConkey BASE, the last thing I said before exiting was "everybody's got to die sometime."

Sorry to be so morbid. But I sometimes feel that Thomas' very valid points on the level of risk involved are too quickly overlooked.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom, I also wrote something here in another thread to add to this about women:

Women have a disadvantage as they do not have the phsyical strength Men do, for things like rear riser turns, 'Man'-Handling these large parachutes etc...

A woman wanting to get into BASE should consider a weight training program, as well as trying to achieve simple things like 10+ pull up with your full body weight. This may sound trivial to a Man, but most woman can not do it.

Please do not take my post as a flame or anything. If a Woman that can do these things is reading this....CUDOS to you for having a great body. But this is important in BASE. It is a must I feel.
Mick Knutson
* BLiNC Magazine "Everything you ever wanted to know about Parachuting, but didn't know whom to ask."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

"You're not a real BASE jumper until you've gone out and made a BASE jump, totally alone, and never bothered to mention it to anyone."

Maybe not the safest practice, but it does capture the spirit of jumping for yourself quite nicely.



That is so true, and it complies to so many other things in life! :)
And thanx for the post Tom. It needs to be discussed... [:/]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Interesting post.
Eve after my accident my g/f (who is a skydive student at the time),still want to go into BASE.She found me at the ground,whith blood and bones...
We had a great discuss some day.She would like me to teach her(i only got 30 on my belt).I told her no,No newer!!!Its okay by be that she wants into BASE,but i wouldnt live whith that if she gets hurts it migth were me who tould her wrong.
I showed her Tom`s good artickel(pleace make the link for me some one,im not that much into this)About getting started.I also showed her the link to the fatalati site.She saw me the weekend i went for the first jump.I was WERRY nervus,Pink had just deied.I saw him as one of the greatest.
we had a long talk about this,and now she is okay about it...
for me its the happy ending at that storry,if she one day go for BASE,ill be happy to jump by her side..

Stay safe
Stefan Faber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
About the alone thing..
I dosnt see why that should make a person a real BASE jumper.I does have the most jumps totaly alone.I love it,but some times it gets a bit lonly.

I think that what makes a real BASE jumper is the one who have the experience and guts to say no and walk down again,even if there are other that jump any way.

Stay safe
Stefan Faber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

***

I mean, the last thing you want to have in the back of your mind, even subconsiously, is "I wonder if this is the jump that's going to kill me."***



Not to start flame wars, but what do you think just before betting your life on one parachute that needs to open quickly and on heading?
Ever seen a McConkey jump? photos don't do this insanity justice. looks to easy in pictures, and you don't get the whole "wind blowing the canopy" effect.
Ever watch a "quad" jump? Know how that got named? I heard that if you do it enough, you end up a quadrapalegic.
There is some purely insane jumping that goes on these days. The sport has just grown and advanced that humans are pushing limits we thought not possible or desirable to push.
Anyone want to strap onto a giant rocket, and get shot at the moon? They were just called Astronauts.
Maybe instead of BASE jumpers, we should call ourselves : Astro-Nuts!
Peace,
Thomas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Tom:

I think it is possible to teach girlfriends to jump IF:

1) They had the motivation to jump BEFORE you met
them.

2) You are an experienced BASE jumper and have
instructed before.

3) You can remain objective about their skills (and
yours).

4) You confer with fellow experienced jumpers as to
her progress.

5) You involve others you trust with her instruction.
(Sometimes YOU stay at home)

6) You are brutally honest with each other.

7) You never find yourself trying to convince her to
jump.

8) In fact, you find yourself telling her more why it is
a BAD idea to jump.

9) You make it clear she can walk away from BASE
jumping at any time...and that it is not a deciding
factor in you staying together.

10) You buy her one of those new ABA 'Slim X-ray'
t-shirts B|

Spence

(Just an aside, I am really impressed with this forum Tom! It definitely bridges the gap between the skydiving and BASE worlds)


tshirt2.jpg

tshirt3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tom, you're the the man! This was a very well written piece.

I agree with 587 that there are rare cases when it's ok to teach somebody you're romantically involved with, but can't emphasize his #8 point enough:

8) In fact, you find yourself telling her more why it is
a BAD idea to jump.

It is really scary to see somebody you care about jump. If you try hard to discourage them, give them all the information and they still decide to jump... pity on you!

bsbd!

Yuri.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

8) In fact, you find yourself telling her more why it is
a BAD idea to jump.

It is really scary to see somebody you care about jump. If you try hard to discourage them, give them all the information and they still decide to jump... pity on you!***

You mean... do as I say, not as I do. Can I just point out that it may be difficult to discourage your girlfriend from jumping when you do it yourself.

If she really wants to get into BASE she's going to do it whether you offer guidence or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Not to start flame wars



I'm not trying to start a flame war either. I see this as a healthy discussion. We only learn by having an open mind and discussing things between mature adults. Please don't take what I say personally.

Quote

...but what do you think just before betting your life on one parachute that needs to open quickly and on heading?



What I'm supposed to do on the jump, and how I'm going to react if I have a 90, 180, etc. I think about getting a good launch, getting the delay right and pulling/throwing stable. In other words, I think about getting the job done. Nothing else.

I knew my comment was going to be misunderstood. That's the problem with web boards. It sometimes takes a couple of exchanges to articulate what one means fully. I'm guessing that some of the things I say here will be controversial and misconstrued as well. :P

Let's start with what I'm not saying. I'm not saying is that I, or anyone else should ignore the very real dangers that BASE presents. I'm not saying one shouldn't prepare for the worst... they absolutely should. I'm also not saying BASE can't kill you. Hell, it's probably the thing most likely to kill me (besides driving on Houston highways :P).

I'm also not saying I'm not scared before a jump. Damn straight I'm plenty scared. Let's face it, that's part of the allure.

Naturally I've talked to my mentor about this a lot. He thinks it's fallacious to just assume that BASE will injure you or will kill you. It doesn't have to. It can, and the odds of it happening are pretty damn high, but it doesn't have to.

But to take the attitude that it will hurt or kill you only serves to put one into a negative mindset that is more likely to actually wind up hurting or killing you than if you say "It doesn't have to if I prepare for the worst." Note that that's not saying it won't, it's saying it doesn't have to.

A lot of folks underplay the importance of positive thinking and visualization in succeeding at something. If you go into something with a negative mindset, or think about all the things that you will do wrong, you are far more likely to actually do the wrong thing because your mind is focused on it. If you think about what you will do right (and that includes reacting to mals), you are more likely to respond correctly.

Being positive does not mean ignoring danger or being pollyanna-ish about something. It also doesn't mean refusing to consider everything that can go wrong and failing to prepare for it. Quite the opposite.

Being prepared means being honest with yourself, your capabilities and the situation and honestly trying to consider and prepare for every contingency. In BASE, there are a lot. And I doubt anyone can prepare for everything.

But once the preparations are done and it's time to perform a task, the only thing that should be on one's mind, and the only thing that is on my mind, is to complete the task as planned. I mean, once you're actually standing on the rail or the edge and you know you're going to go off, what's going to happen injury or death-wise is sort of a moot point. So why think about it? All that matters is what needs to be done.

In other words, be focused on the task. Not the results.

And again, I am not saying BASE isn't dangerous or that the odds aren't high that you will be killed or injured. We all know that they are. I'm just talking about the importance of taking a positive, honest, studious, methodical approach as opposed to a fatalistic attitude.

- Z
"Always be yourself... unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

You mean... do as I say, not as I do. Can I just point out that it may be difficult to discourage your girlfriend from jumping when you do it yourself.

If she really wants to get into BASE she's going to do it whether you offer guidence or not.



Tom can correct me if I'm wrong here, but I don't think he's saying women shouldn't BASE jump.

I think he's saying don't mix business with pleasure. Especially when the stakes are high.

You want someone who is willing to say things that you don't want to hear. If you're romantically involved (or are trying to be) you are less likely to do that for obvious reasons. And that can lead to disastrous results.

So if you're romantically involved with someone and they really want to take up BASE, send them to a qualified mentor that you would trust their (and your own) life with.

- Z
"Always be yourself... unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
0