Are you a basejumper that skydives, or a skydiver that basejumps?

By 22/05/2014Insight
The Perfect Flight

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!

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Now you can also basejump, low stuff of course, skydive and fly in the tunnel in Belgium in one day 🙂
    Again, excellent article and the way to go

  • Sverre says:

    Well written Espen!

  • Guy says:

    In switzerland as well, skydive, windtunnel, base jumping in the same area 😉 !

  • Ronald Overdijk says:

    Why quit indeed. Surely this is all a personal choice. Just like it is a personal choice to start basejumping. Maybe you can lose the motivation for the technicality of the jumps, having no more new thrill. But new thrills can be had in different ways: new objects, new countries, meeting new people, new xxx. (fill in the xxx as you like) My – very personal – choice. I keep on jumping, base, and skydive.

  • Oxy says:

    good article, thank you Espen

  • Mansoor Amjad says:

    Donot stop Espen Keep saying, these words keeps my dream ALIVE I swear. Tony Urigallo has retired also or he is in the game, lastly, in helibase 74 I saw him doing Le Catogne.

  • François says:

    Not agree with you : you are looking at only one side of the activity.
    I’m not a skydiver. I’m not a base jumper. I’m a mountaineer who dreamed about flying in the mountains and had to jump from a plane to pratice but with his mind still in the mountain. And I don’t really care about flying terrain, it’s not a goal it self. Sometime, new terrain is not (only) the one you think.
    Flying from big alpine summits after a nice ascent, making shorter starts, better glide, all that you can’t do from a plane, even to practice.from a plane properly.
    Flying in the mountains doesn’t mean only proxy and we still have a lot to explore about newsuits, specific gear and new exits. For that plane jumping doesn’t not help. It’s just one of the way to fly.
    You pushed far in one side, almost to the max but there is not only one (or two) directions of evolution. There are many of them, some of them we can’t imagine yet.
    Someone will chose to came back into the plane, some others are just moutaineers who fly a way that their best interest, playgrounds and testfields is in a natural environnement and not any more for an aircraft.

    • Espen Fadnes says:

      Hi. I guess you are referring to the sentence “We are no more exploring untried terrain, we are repeating ourselves. Well, thats at least my opinion”.

      I understand your point. There is definitely more to explore in the terms you mention. I also think the only way of truly stay current as a mountain flyer is to regularly fly from mountains. To push your limits from gnarly exits is of course a game you need to base jump to perform. I do think though, that by getting lots of airtime, and Im talking about hours in a wingsuit, you get a way better feeling for air. And thats a feeling you need to get your full potential in taking off early after an exit. I see quite often people going head low or head high the first 4 seconds after exiting, and I think thats because they don’t really have the feeling.

      Another thing is that you can definitely improve glide if you focus on that in skydiving. If you go and do 50 skydives focusing only on the perfection of glide, I promise you the next base jump will be a surprise. A positive surprise:)

  • Hecky says:

    Excellent Article Espen it is a pleasure to watch all the Proximity Wingsuit i see on FB & Youtube these days . i did my first Wingsuit base in 2005 after only 25 base jumps & many would say WTF but its a matter of mental & skill preparation & a very good mentor ( Thanks Douggs ) but in the end they can only take you to the edge & the rest is up to you & i can say i did all the hard work on ground & skydiving before i took my S6 of Kjerag & Europe …
    Go hard stay safe & enjoy mate …

  • JA Loic says:

    Hello all,

    Espen, it was nice to read your thoughts.

    François, I understand and respect your opinion.

    I have spent quite some time in air and mountain sports.
    I have always been surprised of how people like to put fences where they should not exist !
    Is it to proove skydivers are better, mountain guides are better ???
    Where the fuck is the competition ? Should we count the fatalities to determine the winner?

    One of the best moment in my life is the time exploring new places and disciplines with Val Montant and other friends from the Soul Flyers.
    He was from the mountains: skier, paraglider, mountaineer, base jumper.
    I was from air and sea sports: skydiver (freefly, relativ work, wingsuit…) pilot, sailor and also a base jumper.
    We learned a lot on from another and from our comon friends.
    With the Salomon and Red-Bull trip, we got to share with people from other disciplines.

    If one wants to improve and create, he needs to put to doubt his knowledge and share with the rest of the world.

    Please, mountain guides, meet skydivers and jump from planes!
    Please, skydivers, go in the mountain with the guides and you will learn a ton also!

    About cross knowledge:
    When I started to fly helicopter, I could fly it faster the most people… Not because I am the most clever person but just because all the movements are based on the same principle as a parachutist doing relativ work.
    When I first flew a airplane in formation with another one, it was a peace of cake… Where is the difference in between flying an airplane or a wingsuit… Not so big.
    When I first flew aerobatic airplane with Nicolas Ivanoff I was flying on my head as easy as on my belly… While most pilots struggle for hours finding their position in the air… Maybe my freefly experience ?
    This also happens with gymnastic or trampoline athletes.

    So… Do skydives… And I assure you will fly much faster on base exits and will be able to open up new places.

    About getting away from Base.
    I did… Probably because I’ve seen many friends dying, I got close a few times, and I have a familly.

    I find it cool and necessery that people are willing to risk their live to live it fully and to make our world evolve. But please, train, thing and reduce the statistics…

    Friendly.

    Loic

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