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Dd0g

BASE without skydives

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>>I'm not a BASE jumper, but I work ground crew for some of the locals, and I've seen the difference between someone a 1000+ skydives and someone with 20 (ie., a clean launch w/ excellent object separation vs going head-down on a 2 sec dly). While I agree that some skills could be practiced under guidance with PCA jumps from everyone's favorite legal S, I'd hate for some prospective BASEr's lurking in this forum to get the idea it's okay to BASE without any skydives, or very few. Just my thoughts, i'm no expert.

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I'm not a basejumper even a skydiver. But some of my friend are and I spend a lot of time with them.

About training devices, never thought about bungy jumping ? Some commercial jumps are pretty high (220m), and this way you can learn to exit as clean as possible at zero speed environnement. As well for body positionning, it seems to me an easy way to learn to stay flat. With zero risk.

Only my point of view, as a bungy jumper. :$

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I've done 6 bungy jumps, don't think they would be too much help learning exits - if anything they might be bad since you might get used to compensating for the weight of the rope on a bungy jump launch.

Why do some manufacturers use bungy jumps as training? Is that just to help people get over the initial sensory overload of stepping off the edge? Or are they of some help in teaching a head-high exit? (given the weight of the rope as I mentioned above).

Will

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I really like the discussion going on in this thread.



Yes this has been an interesting thread to read and to get different people's view points. Obviously to a certain person, they likely think that I'm already a dead man seeing as I made 'X' number of skydives before I ever made a BASE jump (which hasn't even happened yet). But what can I do? I can't reverse the past. I do recognize that the two are NOT the same and that my freeflying and swooping experience does not translate into BASE skills. But here's my read on some of what has been said and on how I think I may approach BASE:

1) I will listen to the people I have met at my DZ who are experienced BASE jumpers as they know way more about it than I do. And I feel that I may be in the right environment as contrary to a certain person's views, the people in my neck of the woods who both BASE and skydive are NOT the flakey individuals that a certain person feels they are.

2) There is a certain DZO who is working towards setting up a BASE canopy control training program (with the help of the people I will be doing my FJC with) and I definitely will be spending some time at this DZ working on my BASE canopy control skills once this program is in effect. I also have access to some talented CReW dogs here in CO and will be bugging them once they are ready to take to the air again this spring. Heck I've already talked to one of the CReW dogs about the merits of doing some CReW jumps with some BASE canopies and their only concern was gathering the approriate gear at the appropriate wing loadings.

3) My first 'X' number of BASE jumps will be done out at the Perrine with what I believe to be a very reputable and respected pair of BASE instructors. Plus I see no harm in continuing to work with the DZO (from point #2) even after my FJC.

4) I have already been practicing my packing techniques thanks to a friend who has graciously lent me one of their older rigs (and there's no way in hell I will be jumping this rig for numerous reasons). My packing is definitely getting better. But there is still room for improvement and I look forward to being able to watch some of the other pack jobs from the other jumpers who often frequent my home DZ. And then once I take delievery of my own rig, I will obviously do many practice pack jobs on that unit.

5) A while back, I found a new found love of tracking dives and while I don't think the initial exit from the airplane will help my BASE tracking needs, the overall experience of doing more and more skydiving tracking dives can only help me if/when I do some big-wall jumps and this is not something that the non-skydiver gets to experience.

6) I will be looking to do some balloon and helicopter jumps this year. And while in the past I may have been looking for the visuals of the exit, now I find myself only wanting to practice my exits and getting into a good track.

7) I will be looking to ground crew (if they'll have me) with some of the experienced and not flakey jumpers who I have met at my home DZ. It can only help to suck any info out of their brains before I jump the same objects as well as to watch and learn.

8) I may choose to try and spend sometime at a local swimming pool practicing some exits, but I should only do this after my FJC as I wouldn't want to develop any bad habits.

9) While I feel that I grew up fast in the skydiving world, I am nothing more that a fetus right now in the BASE jumping world and I need to start all over from scratch.

Jeez I'm not sure what else to say? I look forward to the opportunity to jump, but as I've told myself all along. I am in no rush. I have the rest of my life to gain the appropriate amount of experience and I am old enough and hopefully mature enough to know that I am NOT invicible. BASE seems to be much more about attitude than anything else?

I still don't understand the thinking that skydivers make for bad and dangerous BASE jumpers. But what do I know about BASE? I do know that I will continue to be a skydiver as it's brought me a certain happiness to my life that didn't seem to exist during my whuffo days. :P

Oh final note. I have often heard people say that BASE jumping finds you, not you finding BASE. And in my case this seems to be what's happening as I was not thinking about becoming a BASE jumper when I first started into skydiving. But what about those people who made some skydives only because they wanted to BASE? It seems that they are the ones seeking out BASE. Of course these are only words and may not mean anything.


Try not to worry about the things you have no control over

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But what about those people who made some skydives only because they wanted to BASE? It seems that they are the ones seeking out BASE.



Perhaps BASE found us when we had never made a skydive?
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

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...bungy jumping ?



Basic Research used to include bungee jumps as part of their FJC, as launch training.

I think the pendulator is far better, because the time between jumps is reduced by an order of magnitude or so. That means you can keep practicing, and do as many (hundreds, if need be) practice launches as you want. It's also a lot cheaper than bungee.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

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here's what I think has most helped me from skydiving to base

CRW
-7 cell experience
-Teaches you about what your canopy can and can't do
-Teaches you to deal with unexpected circumstances

Tandem (instructor)
-Outstanding way to practice accuracy and soft landings.
-Forces you to make braked turns and corrections below 300 ft (unusual for most skydivers today)
-Forces you to deal with less than ideal circumstances (this idiot is trying to kill me)

High performance canopy flight
-Makes you think 5 steps ahead
-Quickly provides you feedback on when you've done wrong

Tracking dives
-Allows you to enjoy the next tall object
-Forces you to adjust your body to match fall rates and allows you to tweek that to maximize horizontal track or slow vertical fall

Freeflying
-Makes you work outside your normal comfort zone ie. I'm upside down and don't know where my friend is
-Makes you recognize and react to things quicker

10,000ft canopy rides
-Rarely used by most jumpers, but I've found it to be very benificial
-Allows you to tie your canopy into a knot and figure out how its going to react
-Teaches you what happens when you touch any combination of risers, brakes, harness turns, brakeline wraps, stalls, riser flares, etc, etc

Just my thoughts for today.
TJ

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Look at the List; most of the fatalities have come from folks with lots of skydives. If skydiving made for safe BASE jumpers, this would not be the case.



You've got to play pretty fast and loose with statistics to reach that conclusion.

First and foremost, good statistics about BASE are somewhere between difficult and impossible to calculate.

Second, most base jumpers had lots of skydives first, so it's not surprising that most dead base jumpers also had lots of skydives.

Doug: Your introduction to base is fairly unique. You had a significant amount of experience in climbing, and while it's not skydiving, it is another sport that relies heavily on equipment, knowledge, and an ability to stay calm in highly stressfull, dangerous situations.
You also had the good fortune to be mentored by one of the best BASE jumpers in the world.
In light of those facts, it's inappropriate to point to your rather unique experiences as evidence that skydiving experience is somehow not advantageous to an aspiring base jumper.

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Skydiving is a pastime. BASE is life and death.



Nonsense.

I'd agree that some people don't thoroughly appreciate the dangers and approach skydiving as a casual pastime, but make no mistake, it is very much a high risk activity. No where near as dangerous as BASE, but dangerous none the less.
How many climbers died in a climbing gym last year?

Personally, I'm a big believer in the "skydiving teens" concept.
That's the idea that after some modest amount of time in sport and experience, one tends to get cocky and overconfident. It's generally considered to be a particularly dangerous phase of anyones skydiving career.
I suspect that if someone starts BASE jumping during their skydiving teens it can be especially dangerous. A little less, *or* a little more skydiving experience prior to starting base might be optimum.

Are lot's of skydives mandatory to become a good base jumper?
Of course not.
Are lot's of skydives likely to enhance ones chances of becoming a good base jumper?
Probably.

A much bigger factor is one's attitude and motivation for getting into the sport in the first place.
Unfortunatley, there's no easy way to assess these factors.
-Josh
If you have time to panic, you have time to do something more productive. -Me*
*Ron has accused me of plagiarizing this quote. He attributes it to Douglas Adams.

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Second, most base jumpers had lots of skydives first, so it's not surprising that most dead base jumpers also had lots of skydives.



My point exactly. It's neither surprising nor, at least prima faciae, causative. Just like, to take a random example, it isn't surprising that most all BASE fatalities are male. That doesn't automatically mean that being male causes jumpers to die. It's just a correlation, and really without additional data it's not possible to say there's a causative relationship there.

However, I brought up this statistical point (and, yes, I agree that the stats are murky at best) for this reason: if one makes the argument that lots of skydives makes for safer BASE jumpers then one must also recognize the fact that the stats don't, on the surface, support this argument without further explanation.

I'm not making the argument, specifically, that skydives don't help BASE but rather looking for someone to make a convincing argument that skydives do make for safer BASE jumpers. The statistics alone aren't going to make that argument.

The "canopy control" argument is somewhat shaky now that skydiving canopies (even for students) are moving further and further away from BASE canopies.

The tracking skills argument is vaguely interesting, but not many BASE folks are doing alot of jumps early in their career where tracking expertise is "do or die." Frankly, not many BASE jumpers are doing that sort of jump even further along in their career.

The "mental skills" argument holds basically no weight with me personally. Skydiving is a well-regulated, well-managed, safe, fun, enjoyable pastime. But the very structure and rules and proven gear and training techniques that make skydiving safe are exactly what is opposite from BASE. We don't have any of this exogenous structure in our sport, we have a herd of the proverbial cats and as many opinions on fundamental gear and technique questions as we have BASE jumpers alive today.

Hanging out at a sunny DZ with happy people in stylish clothes is a great way to spend a summer day, but it's far removed from (most all) BASE jumps, mentally at least. I don't know what is optimal mental preparation for the sharper edge of BASE, but I can't see any cogent argument that skydiving fits the bill particularly well.

Regards,

D-d0g
+~+~+~+~
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.

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Personally, I'm a big believer in the "skydiving teens" concept.
That's the idea that after some modest amount of time in sport and experience, one tends to get cocky and overconfident. It's generally considered to be a particularly dangerous phase of anyones skydiving career.
I suspect that if someone starts BASE jumping during their skydiving teens it can be especially dangerous. A little less, *or* a little more skydiving experience prior to starting base might be optimum.



This is the best encapsulation I've heard for an idea I've been grappling to express for some time. I usually express it as a "danger zone" or some such nonsense. "Skydiving teens" is far easier to grasp. Thanks!
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

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...the very structure and rules and proven gear and training techniques that make skydiving safe are exactly what is opposite from BASE. We don't have any of this exogenous structure in our sport, we have a herd of the proverbial cats and as many opinions on fundamental gear and technique questions as we have BASE jumpers alive today.

Hanging out at a sunny DZ with happy people in stylish clothes is a great way to spend a summer day, but it's far removed from (most all) BASE jumps, mentally at least.



I don't necessarily agree. Skydiving is very removed from most all of your BASE jumps. And from most of mine. But that doesn't make it so far removed from all BASE jumps.

There are as many different ways of BASE jumping as there are BASE jumpers. I know jumpers who only jump legal walls in daylight, under good conditions. Skydiving can be excellent prepararation for many aspects of this (the riding in aircraft, for example :P).

Whether or not that is your kind of BASE, or mine, I think we need to recognize that it is a popular, and growing (again, whether that's good or bad is a matter of personal opinion) segment of the population of people who like to flop off solid objects with parachutes.

It's kind of like climbing. Climbing gyms are great preparation for afternoon sport climbing outings. But they don't prepare you for a nasty six day alpine epic. Some people will stay safely on clip-ups, though, and won't need to be prepared for that nasty mixed nightmare at 12,000 feet.

So, what kind of BASE jumper are you? And is it sufficient to prepare for only those jumps? Perhaps the most important thing is to recognize what are "your type" of jumps, and stay away from the ones you aren't prepared for.

Personally, I stay away from things that require tracking skills. :D
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

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Personally, I'm a big believer in the "skydiving teens" concept.
That's the idea that after some modest amount of time in sport and experience, one tends to get cocky and overconfident. It's generally considered to be a particularly dangerous phase of anyones skydiving career.
--------------------------------------------------------
Good point. Think about this too...

The skydiving "teens" used to be at about 400 jumps. Now I'd have to say that the new number is FAR lower. I'd be unable to state where it actually is today as I no longer hang out at any DZ but I'd guess it's around 100 jumps that your newby gets pretty darn bold. They are buying inappropriately sized gear, blowing by break-off altitude, relying on their Cypres', hooking themselves in, etc.

The teen nowadays no longer has the advantage of many weekends at the DZ collecting or absorbing the corporate knowledge and experience and wisdom (taken with a grain of salt) that they could. Skydiving is not the sport it once was requiring the time dedication to be safe. It has become a recreational activity and is being taken pretty casually.

Remember that the "teens" is not a number but an attitude. It usually goes away with a few helpings of humble pie or a good scare.

The skydiver past the teens is more likely to be responsive to admonitions of caution and awareness. The pre-teen is less likely to take these advices to heart unless made in a plane of reference with which he has some reality. If you were to rate base jump sites by the climbers system with the difficulty and risks spelled out to the teen who came from climbing it would sink in. Without reality, just the thought of black death or making reference to bad juju the teen can easily disregard. I'm bullet proof and fearless without reallly knowing how bad it can really get.

Didn't get much of anywhere with this but it's worth considering that anybody with the teaching and communication skills working with a student with a shared reality set could probably BASE jump with no skydives. Ask some of the big wall heavies in YO. They have done it with the right mentor.

jon

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Back in the day, "skydiving teens" was 200-500 jumps. I was voted to most likely to die before I got to 300 jumps but I'm still here and I know why I was that person. I was stupid and 18yrs old. I only hurt myself when I had 2500 jumps, and then again at 4000 jumps.

I agree with Jon and that it has dropped to about 100-300 where they think that they are invinsible.
Clint MacBeth
Skydive Moab 435 259 JUMP
M.O.A.B. Mother Of All Boogies Sept 19 - 23, 2012

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Back in the day, "skydiving teens" was 200-500 jumps. I was voted to most likely to die before I got to 300 jumps but I'm still here and I know why I was that person. I was stupid and 18yrs old. I only hurt myself when I had 2500 jumps, and then again at 4000 jumps.

I agree with Jon and that it has dropped to about 100-300 where they think that they are invinsible.
__________________________________________________

I'd say it can start around 50 and go up almost to infinity now, certainly easily to 1500 jumps - it just depends on the individual. We have jumpers who don't even know how to pack or how to spot a load - they can get by without it now - how are they supposed to realize there are some things they really NEED to learn?
If some old guy can do it then obviously it can't be very extreme. Otherwise he'd already be dead.
Bruce McConkey 'I thought we were gonna die, and I couldn't think of anyone

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I'm curious as to where you got your facts? I just looked at the BASE fatality list and the majority of the entries do not list either BASE experience or Skydiving experience (note to self - I meant to contact Nick a couple of years ago that we needed a generic form for incident/fatality reporting that would answer such questions as approx BASE and skydiving experience, years in sport, type of gear, specifically so we would have such information).

Looking at the 77 fatalities, 21 occurred in the '80's (>25% so it narrows it down a bit) but even looking at all the entries I find 9 or 10 I know had more than 1000 and maybe 25 or so who may have had. There's at least 8 who definitely had < 2-300, and 32 I just don't know, although I do remember several from past issues of skydiving magazine or BASEline and think several of them would have between 300-700 jumps. So unless you have access to more statistics then are on the current List, I don't see how you can support that claim...
If some old guy can do it then obviously it can't be very extreme. Otherwise he'd already be dead.
Bruce McConkey 'I thought we were gonna die, and I couldn't think of anyone

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In Reply To
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


But what about those people who made some skydives only because they wanted to BASE? It seems that they are the ones seeking out BASE.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Perhaps BASE found us when we had never made a skydive?


what do you smoke dude?:|,some of us dont really belive things like that;)

Personaly i think that it requires a minimum of skydives,to learn things as tracking,getting out of smaller mal´s as line twists,not inflatede cells and so on.I also do belive that the time you get in the air makes you learning how the winds should feel on our body in freefall,meaning feeling the ballance between stabel,less stabel,unstabel..

Stay safe
Stefan Faber

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if one makes the argument that lots of skydives makes for safer BASE jumpers then one must also recognize the fact that the stats don't, on the surface, support this argument without further explanation.



In BASE, the available stats are barely reliable enough to reach sound conclusions about gear configurations. You won't find too much argument about the value of a tailgate, for example, but for the most part it goes rapidly downhill from there.

The variables involved in mental preparation and training are far more complex than gear related ones are. Anyone that attempts use statistics to back up their opinion on BASE prep is going to fail.

IMO, a big problem is the exposure that base has gotten recently. It's in movies, tv commercials, and lots of skydiving videos feature it, too.
When everything goes well, BASE looks deceptively easy and safe. Consequently, people approach it without an appropriate level of fear and healthy anxiety. To counter that trend, I'd like to see wider distribution of carnage videos, but I'm sure that's gonna be a hot topic of its own.[:/]

Approached with the right attitude, skydiving can be a very useful tool for BASE prep. Approached with the wrong attitude, and it can give one a false sense of confidence.

The trouble is that attitude is hard to measure.
Having said that, I'll weigh in with my .02 on the skills you mention and then consider this dead horse thoroughly beaten.

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The "canopy control" argument is somewhat shaky now that skydiving canopies (even for students) are moving further and further away from BASE canopies.



With the right attitude it still has tremendous value. Especially if one makes a point of jumping large 7 cell canopies, which admittedly, not too many do.
Even if you only earn your A license, you still learned a bit about stearing, flaring, kicking out of line twists, what openings fell and look like, and so on.

Quote



The tracking skills argument is vaguely interesting, but not many BASE folks are doing alot of jumps early in their career where tracking expertise is "do or die." Frankly, not many BASE jumpers are doing that sort of jump even further along in their career.



If you're jumping in the PDX area, tracking doesn't matter at all.
However, if you plan to go to Norway, it can come in really handy.
Further, even at somewhere around 3 seconds, you've got enough airspeed to start flying your body.
Freefall skills can save your ass in all sorts of situations, not just tracking.


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The "mental skills" argument holds basically no weight with me personally.



Spoken like someone that didn't pursue skydiving long enough to experience the appropriate challenges. :P
Dealing with radical malfunctions, learning how to do high performance landings, aggressive freeflying or competive RW are but a few of the things that can refine one's mental skills.
Of course, rock climbing, firefighting, chasing bad guys, and all sorts of other things can provide the same benefits.
It's largely what you make of it. If you approach it with the right attitude it can make a huge difference in your mental skills.

Lastly, there is the issue that I think is overlooked by all too many of us that actually agree that skydiving is a reasonable prerequisite for BASE.

Time in sport.
One can satisfy all of the skydiving requirements established by every major BASE course out there, and still be lacking this.

I happen to think that seeing a few broken friends carted off or flown out is a very valuable reality check for anyone considering taking even higher risks. After skydiving for over a decade, I've seen a lot of carnage. Some of the victims lived, some did not. Some made stupid, easily avoidable mistakes, some did everything right, but the ground didn't care.
YMMV
-Josh
If you have time to panic, you have time to do something more productive. -Me*
*Ron has accused me of plagiarizing this quote. He attributes it to Douglas Adams.

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To counter that trend, I'd like to see wider distribution of carnage videos, but I'm sure that's gonna be a hot topic of its own.



Ask JJ about that... That was a nasty battle on the bb.B| I'm sure you can still find the thread, if you're interested. But I agree the carnage video makes you think twice and shows you the reality of the sport.

We're getting away from the topic...

Just a thought, but I think that we are arguing about the rare exception in base students. I really don't think that there is a large amount of people that want to get into base that have no skydiving expirence.

Seriously, how many non-skydiving base wannabe's are there?
Base # 942
The race is long and in the end, its only with yourself.

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Just a thought, but I think that we are arguing about the rare exception in base students. I really don't think that there is a large amount of people that want to get into base that have no skydiving expirence.



I completely disagree. I wanted to get into BASE when I had no skydiving experience.

I've met dozens of other people (mostly climbers) who want to get into BASE but have never made a skydive. I know of at least ten of them who have then gone out and done so, with varying (from zero to around 300) numbers of skydives before starting BASE.

Increasingly, the idea that you can just start BASE without skydives is gaining credence in various other (non-skydiving) places. This attitude has always had some following in the climbing world, but I've now seen it exploding in the skiing and snowboarding worlds as well.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

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Increasingly, the idea that you can just start BASE without skydives is gaining credence in various other (non-skydiving) places. This attitude has always had some following in the climbing world, but I've now seen it exploding in the skiing and snowboarding worlds as well.



You guys know way more than I do, and I no doubt suffer from my own perspective as a skydiver, but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to jump my BASE canopy several times over a large, flat grassy area (the DZ) before trying to stand up a landing in a small, sloped, rocky clearing between tall trees, or at all at night, for that matter.

For non-skydivers around here (a long way from legal spans), a few SL jumps (maybe with that newly acquired BASE canopy in the container) might at least give a little flavor of how a canopy generally works first.

Not saying you "should", just can't see the disavantage.

$.02

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Without getting into the argument over the wisdom of learning BASE with 0 or few skydives, I would add just one thing...

I personally think that prior skydiving experience adds to the overall BASE experience. I mean, whuffos will only get the "man we're high" sensation. I know when I stood at the edge of The Bridge (tm) and looked over the side all I could think was "Man that's low. There's no way. There's no [expletive]-ing way."

Part of the fun is the change in perspective that you get from shifting between sports.

It like the old joke....

A whuffo looks over The Bridge (tm) and thinks "Man we're high."

A skydiver looks over and goes "Man we're low."

(My addition) And an experienced BASE jumper looks over and goes "Man we're high."

B|

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

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I've been out for a few days and haven't read this whole thread..... but I have to say that the idea that BASE should be persued by people who have never skydived is pretty silly. Dog, you can use all of the pretzel logic, long sentences, and diatribe that you want, but you will still be wrong. Yes, a few people have gotten into BASE without skydiving, but they are the exception. Human flight is best learned from safe heights. Those who choose to push it may end up jumping off of stuff. Basic gear knowledge, three dimensional orientation, canopy flight (It does not matter how differnet the canopies are, you still need to learn how thae controls work) and jsut good old acclimation with not having your feet on the ground.

Dog, you seem very discontent with the state of BASE, but it hasen't changed all that much. Generally the people change, move on, and it seems different to those left standing, but it is still the same. Trying to mold the people you want to hang out with into jumpers so you can re-ignite the spark for yourself will put you back, standing over a hole in the ground mouring the loss of another.

If someone really wants to BASE, the age old rule of learning to skydive first is the best way for the student, the sport, and the other participants. Those who take the shortcuts may be the exception, but most people are better off building up to it.

I'm pretty sure that there is also a good thread on here about who is and is not a qualified BASE instructor. The pushing of the idea of "straight to BASE" should have any perspective student wondering.

Cya.

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man I don't know where to even start, so I guess I'll just ramble. I suppose I really need to weigh-in as perhaps my experience can shed some light on this, dunno.

I was part of a five person grand experiment by Earl Redfern. He was called the 'wild one' by his skydiving/BASE peers at the time for basically "training" five whuffos to BASE jump. I put quotation marks around "training" because I would have to say that the training aspects differed for each of us in terms of amount of knowledge disseminated/imparted and/or absorbed. I must also state that there was never an absence of available information: one could basically soak up whatever amount of knowledge one wanted with respect to many things, BASE technique included, so in my mind the willingness of a student to learn and understand was the driving factor - not the lack of available mentoring/training/discussion. That said, three of the five of us managed to get our BASE numbers and two of us subsequently managed to rack up quite a list of objects that experienced jumpers would swoon to get these days. All with no prior skydives. Of the five, I'm the only one still jumping; the others gave it up when we went our separate ways, and I myself took a seven year break before coming back to it.

I think it is/was probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done, but at the same time I'm thankful to have had the opportunity; I think a lot about how rare my opportunity was, and how grateful I am to have crossed paths with Earl. With the benefit of hindsight and some experience, I look back and think that it's a wonder any of us survived or at a minimum that none of us was seriously injured (speaking solely of the students). One of us almost drowned (ahem); I've seen miraculous saves (bellywart), and damn-near-death openings/saves. I really do at times feel the urge to lend some credence to the saying, "god takes care of fools and drunks." He must, because most of us should probably be dead. But I'm not the same kinda fool anymore, so I'm now exposed to the same sort of elements as anyone else. No...really, I'm not fooling myself - nor do I believe that god particularly pays any more attention to the safety of fools and drunks than he does to the safety of anyone; I'ze bein' sarcastic.

So what's to be learned here? I don't really know; perhaps nothing. Perhaps there should be an analysis of us who were involved - or perhaps more broadly an analysis of all who have gone the non-traditional route.

I can really only speak for myself, but I believe my experience up to that point had better prepared me for what I did than your average everyday garden variety whuffo. I mean I don't really believe that I was a total whuffo in the ultimate whuffo sense. I had a vast experience in model aviation (16 years at the time I began the grand BASE experiment - with literally thousands of hours of design and construction of scratch-built craft), had probably a total of 60 hours in full scale craft (not as PIC, but still doing unassisted t/o's and ldgs in the local pattern), a fair amount of mixed trad/sport climbing, 10 years of sailing experience, etc. I even came to the table already knowing how to sew fairly well. Anyway, I guess my point is that I wasn't your average whuffo: I understood how things fly, had done some amount of flying either remotely or first-hand, and I had some technical experience in design and construction of lots of things, a fair amount of trust in nylon, and I am nearly handicapped by my own attention to detail (that's another way of saying I never get anything done in a short amount of time 'cause it's gotta be perfect).

Knowing what I know now would I do it again? Probably, but that's just me. I don't think you can really apply much from my experience to anyone or anything else - and certainly not with regard to the possible success or failure of others who would take this route.

And it's not like I hadn't dreamed about BASE before I met Earl. I had already decided at age 12 that I would someday BASE jump when I saw Boenish et al doing their jumps on National Geo.(PBS mind), so it's not like the idea was novel at age 21; the notion had been bouncing around in the back of my head for 9 years.

If someone asked me if it is possible to BASE without prior skydives, I'd say yes. Do I think it's probable that someone could do it that way and live? Probably. Do I think it's the most effective route to train someone to BASE jump? (effective in terms of turning out a quality BASE jumper) No. Is the learning curve about as steep as learning curves get? Yes. Do you stand a much greater risk of injuring yourself or dying going this route? Certainly.

I've been approached by many, many people who wanted me to take them BASE jumping: both experienced (and inexperienced) skydivers AND total whuffos. Every time I'm asked, it makes my stomach churn to consider the possible consequences of taking these people to do these things. At least the experienced skydivers know - to some extent - what they're getting themselves into. Most whuffos have not a fucking clue. Hell most skydivers haven't a clue about what real BASE jumping really is. It's just not possible to explain how fucking miserable it is to have to climb a 500' ladder at night in windy freezing temps with the ladder bending/bowing back and forth with every step, or to slog up a miserable muddy slope up the backside of some mountain, or to wade through a mile of blackberry bushes to get to the base of an object - only to be miserable climbing for the next hour. All for a few fleeting wisps of pure ecstacy - only to find that you're hooked and ready for more.

Sure, it is possible to BASE jump with no prior skydives. It's probably even very doable considering some of the places available to train someone these days. But consider this training scenario: let's say - hypothetically - that a skydiver first learns how to fly his body in a wind tunnel, so by the time they were doing their first real jumps at alti, they already know how to turn points, do big ways, etc. That tunnel time is probably money well spent. No, it doesn't train them how to save their own ass in freefall, but it does probably make for a safer student and, probably, for a more pleasant experience in skydiving later on. Now let's consider the norm: skydivers learn how to fly roughly a minute at a time, with big breaks in between each of those minutes. We already know this concept. Now consider that with respect to canopy control and BASE. Far better it is to learn canopy control over some bigass 1000 acre airport with a reserve canopy and 5-20 min. of working time than it is to try to put it all together with what? 5 secs, 10 secs.? okay maybe even a minute or two at a time in some BASE circumstances. True, it would be possible to do hop n pops from a tall tower (and one could even get about as much time as on a low plane hop n pop), but there aren't many tower locals out there who _really_ want you opening high on their towers. One could even tailor a program that might include paragliding a low-efficiency wing at first. But I don't think there's any question that prior skydiving exerience with focus on canopy control is of huge value in the BASE environ.

So I suppose I've rambled enough for now. Doable? yes. Wise? absolutely not.

Sheeeeit... now that I think about it - I think I'll open me up a BASE School.

bsbd,
Gardner
dba Bubba's School of Redneck BASE
Proud member of SERNBJA
(Southeastern Redneck BASE Jumping Association)

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