I recently received an email from an individual who had some amazing questions about getting into BASE, what to expect, how to do it and many other very interesting questions. So here they are with my answers!
From a follower (this message has been edited to protect the privacy of the individual) ” Hi Clair, I read your story and I must say it is truly inspirational! I love to follow the stories of base jumpers about how they progressed to where they are now. How many skydives should I do before base? Are there questions I should ask myself before doing it and what are they? Will it affect how people perceive me? Also, fatalities, I know it’s a grim topic but what has been your experience regarding this? Is it just inevitable and not something we can control? Or is it because a particular person wasn’t experienced enough or did something really stupid? Why is it no one gives a stuff about pilots but it’s the skydivers and base jumpers everyone wants to be friends with? Jokke has about 5000 friends already”
First off thank you for the kind words, I really enjoy what I do even though it has taken me years of dedication and struggle. All of your questions are very typical of someone who is actually thinking about doing this rather then just jumps in and goes for it. The answer to almost all of your questions is how bad do you want it? What are you willing to do to make it a reality and what would you do if this wasn’t an option. Because this is a sport with a very high risk factor you really have to be clear on your intentions so you can have a clear understanding of the potential outcome. Yes this is an inherently dangerous sport with very serious consequences, however like almost all other things you can make it as safe or as dangerous as you would like. By making informed decisions, understanding your limitations and not letting ego get the best of you is a sure fire way to have a long and fun career in the sport of BASE. Unfortunately there are very few jumpers who follow this recipe for success which is why there is a huge influx of fatalities at the moment.
I have been active in the sport for over 9 years now and have only had a few minor injuries as well as the normal wear and tear on the body from participating in a high impact sport. I have had 8 successful years and I attribute it to the fact that I never operate above 80% of my ability level leaving the 20% to get out of the shit that some times is out of our control.
If you choose to take this up as your sport there will be a different perception of you from those close to you. most commonly the thought that you are reckless and thoughtless. Be prepared that your past may come back into question especially if there were drugs involved and many people will compare the two. I don’t directly have experience with that association but I have seen it happen many times.
The biggest question to ask yourself before starting is: Am I ready to take responsibility for my actions and desires even if they may hurt those around me (meaning in the instance of death). You need to fully understand the possible repercussions and accept them completely as well as promise yourself that you will do everything in your power to make good choices…. even when the trill of just jumping isn’t enough any more.
Your first step is to start skydiving, many people with desire to base begin skydiving and then feel that is enough to satisfy their adventurous side. Most BASE instructors require 200 skydives before taking one on as a student but this varies based on instructor. Skydiving will help you a lot with regards to canopy control and being comfortable landing exactly where you want to land so I highly recommend getting as many jumps as you can prior to starting your journey into BASE.
People are attracted to those who do what they wish they could but are too fear full to actually do themselves. that is one reason the perceived dare devils acquire a larger following.
Fear is an amazing tool that we all have, it is all how we handle the fear and how we understand what causes it and where is it from. There is a difference between doing something reckless and something that is carefully thought out and planned. The reckless die in our sport and they die fast. So fear is good, it is what keep us on our toes and preparation is what keeps us alive.
I hope this answers your questions and helps you make an informed decision on your path into both skydiving and BASE.
PS one thing I forgot to add is if you do become a part of this crazy fun world you need to fully prepare you self for death, not talking about you but the people you meet, the friends you make and people you just see in passing. You will witness fatalities, your friends will die, people whom you just met will die. I have had many of my good friends and BASE buddies die over the years, some I witnessed first hand, some I had the shitty experience of reading about on FB and I have even had friends die in my arms. You have to be prepared for this!