The monster 1104ft Millau Viaduct!! - Aire du viaduc de Millau
This thing is a beast! It is the tallest bridge in the world as of November 2018.
23 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower!
We saved this jump for Sunset, and the last base jump of our France trip.
As much as we'd love to spend all day base jumping off this bridge, it's not that simple, and here's just a few reasons why:
- It requires a car and driver who is prepared to sacrifice the jump to drop you off so that you can jump. You could just find a driver that doesn’t base jump, then its problem solved.
- You have to cough up some Euro's for the toll booth each time. I think it's about 9 – 9 Euros.
- You will need picking up from the bottom, which can take the driver 15 mins or so.
- You will need to not get caught by the Police, or you will get fined and maybe worse depending on the cop and if they have caught you before.
- The toll booth operators look out for basejumpers, so if you pass through looking obvious that you are about to make a base jump, then it's a giveaway and they may not let you through, or they could call the Police.
I won't detail how we did it, you'll have to figure that out for yourselves if you plan to jump it, or maybe speak to a local basejumper to the area.
We had been making base jumps in the area for the last 2 days and we saved this for last as its extra special.
When you approach it in the car you just see how immense the 7 masts are that provide support for the road deck, they are 285ft each!
We had to drive over it when we arrived in Millau at the start of the trip, and it felt like forever crossing it.
It has a span of 2.46 kilometres or 8070ft. Even if you don't plan on base jumping the Millau Viaduct, it's just as exciting to drive along it.
If you are spending time in Millau or surrounding areas you can see if from far way and it really gives you a better perspective on the size of it.
(this below photo is not mine)
We were stood on a cliff about to do a base jump and we took a moment to just look at it, as it was in the distance. We were high up already on this cliff, but looking over to the viaduct, it was still above us! It gave me the willies, as I knew we were going to be jumping it haha.
In base jumping, and also sky diving, altitude is your friend. The higher the object is, the safer you are making the jump. Take that with a pinch of salt, no base jump is safe, but in the event of a malfunction for example, you want as much height as possible to clear it. Height usually means you have more of a chance to get away from the object after you jump, and therefore less chance you may strike it in the event of an off-heading.
Anyway, my point here is, although the Millau Viaduct is stupidly high and technically 'less scary', it had all of us nervous as hell.
This colossal monster required us to reconfigure our parachute settings (any basejumpers reading this, forgive me haha).
We had been base jumping objects the last few days that were 'slider off' jumps, or 'slider down' jumps. A very quick and brief explanation of this...base jumps where we are taking no longer that 3 seconds of freefall do not require the parachute to open slowly. This means we do not require the use of a 'slider'. A slider is something that slows down the opening of a parachute.
Gary has just attached his mesh slider.
Just finishing up.
Take sky diving for example, if you didn’t use a slider, your parachute would open almost instantly when you deploy it, and when you are doing 120mph in freefall…it's not ideal, it would definitely ruin your day.
You would go from 120mph to next to nothing in an instant. It would break your back and probably kill you. It has killed people in the past, and it has broken backs in the past where people have incorrectly configured their slider.
So, Millau Viaduct being over 1000ft high, we can afford to take a nice long freefall delay, well over 3 seconds. With this in mind, we will need our parachute to open slower than usual as we will be reaching faster speeds by the time we deploy our parachute.
Apologies for the very basic slider explanation, this post isn’t a lesson, I am just trying to give the reader some perspective.
First job for us all is to put our sliders back on our rigs, and to do this adds a little extra time when packing and requires further line checks. We also have to adjust the configuration of our toggles and then brake settings. The pack job is slightly different also when packing 'slider up'.
Getting to the bridge
Our super cool Air BNB host agreed to drive us in our van to the bridge, woohoo!!!! This has to be a first!! We threw the idea at him on the first night of our stay, and he said he would speak to some friends about it as he didn’t want to get into any trouble.
The following night at dinner he said he has done some research and learned that he wouldn’t get into any trouble as it’s a bit of a "grey area" with the law around there, and agreed to do it. BOOM!
We finished reconfiguring our rigs and were all packed.
All 3 base jumpers weren’t saying a lot, including myself. The nerves were kicking in.
For me, I don't do a lot of slider up jumps, I rarely reach terminal velocity on my base jumps as I don't jump many big walls or 1000ft antennas, so going 'slider up' made me a little nervous. I was thinking about tension knot malfunctions, or a line-over malfunction (didn’t have LR toggles) and ending up in the river below etc.
Shaun, base jumper number 2 has a fair amount of slider up jumps but said that the Millau Viaduct for him, was scarier than Monte Brento (a 4000ft cliff in Italy). Shaun had jumped Millau once before, and so he knew what was coming haha.
Gary, base jumper number 3 was quiet. He too has plenty of slider up jumps off Monte Brento, but he was nervous as he wanted to try a Gainer off the bridge. A Gainer is a backward somersault in the opposite direction of your travel. If you don’t know what one is, just YouTube it, we do them off diving boards all the time, but he wanted to try one off Millau as there was enough height for him to get stable and deploy his parachute in the event that he f*cks it up.
All of us felt hungry but couldn’t eat, and no matter how much water we drank we couldn’t seem to get hydrated, it was constant dry mouth, like a mouth full of sand.
I was shitting myself right up until the point when I was stood on the edge about to jump, then the fear turned into excitement almost instantly. My favourite base jumps are the ones where we have to be sneaky and act in a hurry haha, I don't know why, but I love it!
After giggling like children in the back of the van, we arrive at the spot we chose to jump off. We say thanks, and leave quickly.
Go Go Go!
Thankfully we didn’t hold up any traffic, there was no one behind us.
We climbed the roadside railing and started to climb various bit n pieces covered in metal spikes in order to get over.
Once we were over we didn’t waste too much time as we didn’t want to attract unwanted attention longer than necessary.
Shaun gave us a wave and began his count.
3, 2, 1 see ya!
He jumps and takes a solid 4 second delay before deploying.
I heard his canopy open but I couldn’t see it, as the Perspex rails on the bridge are slightly over hung, so base jumpers drop and then go out of sight for a second, almost as if they have gone more underneath the bridge.
A second or two later I see his canopy emerge and hear him yell something like "Wahooooooooo!"
Waiting for Shaun to move out of the freefall area so Gary can jump.
Gary is next up as he wanted me to film how his Gainer goes. He gets into position by climbing down a step. He wants to get as low as possible to throw his Gainer, as maybe he was worried about hitting his head.
He took a bit of time composing himself. After a short while I advised that there were 5 or 6 large arctic lorries coming in the distance, which will mean the bridge will wobble, and it's super off-putting. I know he doesn’t like that, so as much as I didn’t want to interfere with his concentration I thought its best I tell him. A few seconds later he counts in and throws a nice super casual gainer. Textbook it was. He didn’t over rotate, didn't stall it, just carried it all the way over nicely.
3, 2, 1, see ya!
At this point, I'm like 'Oh shit, he has actually gone for the Gainer', as part of me thought he might change his mind.
Lovely slow rotation.
Gary's view as he throws the Gainer.
Now as he comes around to deploy his parachute.
And it opens nicely, a little to the left but all good.
Makes his way to the LZ to land by Shaun.
All alone at the top of an object again..this seems to be a common occurrence.
I waited for his canopy to move away from the area I was about to freefall in to, and then counted myself in.
I counted to 3 and then deployed.
3, 2, 1, see ya!
It felt like longer but it wasn’t. The jump felt incredible, but as I was a little more nervous than I should have been, I pulled a little earlier. I could have taken a nice 4, 5 or 6 second delay and still had plenty of altitude but the nerves got me. I pulled nice and stable in sub terminal freefall and enjoyed a 45 second canopy ride to the LZ.
Enjoying my sunset canopy ride under this Behemoth.
Next time, I will smoke it down further for sure, but this jump was conservative for me on this occasion.
The view of the river is awesome.
We all landed safely, none of us died, we were not seen and our driver had a blast too. In fact his family were waiting at the bottom in their car for us and they enjoyed watching it.
High five for driver David!
Being locals to the area I thought they had maybe seen base jumpers here before, but to my surprise they didn’t even know it went on. That is great to hear, as it tells me that base jumpers in general aren’t creating too much attention.
I thought for a while about whether to post this or not, but after typing 'Millau Viaduct' into YouTube and finding MANY videos of people base jumping it, I thought it would be ok to post. So I am not burning an object, as it's pretty clear it gets jumped a lot, especially as a bunch of the videos are uploaded by French locals.
After the jump we all ruined 'Dry January' and went for a beer with our Airbnb hosts in Millau town. They later cooked us a traditional French meal called Blanquette de Veau, followed by local cheeses, wine and cured meats.
We were spoiled to say the least.
I think this could be one of the most exciting jumps I have done, I am still deciding haha.
I will be back for sure, and maybe throw a Gainer myself next time.
Like always, thanks for reading!
Now that dry January is ruined, I'm off to the pub for one or two, CHEERS!
I HAVE POSTED A VIDEO, BUT STEEMIT READERS SEEM TO PREFER WRITTEN CONTENT, WHICH IS WHY I DID THIS POST.
I AM NOT A BASE JUMPING INSTRUCTOR. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. DO NOT GO AND ATTEMPT TO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE BECAUSE YOU SAW MY POST.
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