15 years ago it was no doubt. In a Norwegian skydive community with a path of withdrawing papers on members doing basejumps, you became a basejumper. A basejumper occasionally refreshing the flying skills on a dropzone abroad. Me and all my friends were basejumpers. We lived and breathed the anarchistic community, and pushed the boundaries based on the experience we could get from hiking, jumping, hiking, jumping day after day. And yes, we pushed it. It was a time of exploration. Every month a new amazing achievement occurred. Always into the unknown. We can say we went from falling to flying, from flying to terrain flying, from being close every now and then, to follow terrain in close proximity for longer periods. It only took 10 years. Those 10 years are gone now. We are no more exploring untried terrain, we are repeating ourselves. Well, thats at least my opinion.
Yesterday I realised one of the best wingsuit flyers we have in our community have retired. Lutz Ludtke is returning to skydives only, and he is not alone. The fact that he retires makes me sad, but his reasons for doing it is quite interesting. The balance between what he gains and what he risks is now on the negative side. A classic situation to rethink your choices. Lutz says “more and more routine is coming with rising skills…was decreasing the thrill and fun step by step”. This is well written words, I believe many other basejumper can recognise it in themselves. If you also add on the dark side of several accidents lately, worried friends and families, we see a pattern most understandable. Lots of skilled personalities inside the base jumping community are leaving. The risk/gain ratio have tipped over for a substantial amount of us.
Im at Voss, Norway right now. The place of the famous Norwegian Extreme Sports Week. A place where groundbreaking moments of sports have happened for more than 15 years. It was in this mountains Luic Jean-Albert, June 2005, changed our sport by performing proximity flying. At Voss they have a very openminded skydive community. It was the only dropzone in Norway where we could pack our base canopies side by side with skydivers in the early 2000s. Its still a place for innovative thinking, and also the only place in the world where you can basejump, skydive and do windtunnel the same day. It is the only place I could find to safely and steady work towards my next step in wingsuit basejumping. Sometimes you need to take a big step sideways to do new steps forwards. Several of my fellow basejumpers have made a side step now.
Skydiving and base jumping has completely changed since 2000. In skills, yes, but not at least open-mindedness. Loic Jean-Albert was a skydiver that basejumped. Soulflyers, that mad skills french crew freeflying down the mountain is this days, the same. They are actually closely related through Fly Your Body. The early beginning of proximity flying started with skydives, the latest innovative base jumps the same. So to all you base jumpers out there that skydives and struggle with motivativation. Please don’t quit. How about skydive more, and still base jump? I will, and you are welcome to Voss. Here the mountains are a short drive away. Maybe we even can find the next level of wingsuit basejumping!