” This was the most scared I had ever been up until this point”
I recently obtained my NIGHT B.A.S.E number, and what that means is I am the 298th person in the world to have base jumped from a Building, Antenna, Span and Earth at night. These 4 objects need to be jumped once each and then you can apply for your Night Base number.
NIGHT BASE #298
Jump 1 – SPAN
10pm – October 2018.
It was pitch black, no moonlight whatsoever, which really added to the fear factor. This was the most scared I had ever been up until this point.
I did the jump with my mate Gary, we were in Croatia and the object was a 120m bridge. We had made around 50 base jumps off this bridge before, so we were familiar with the object.
We had planned this jump so we brought a bunch of glow sticks with us and gaffa tapped them to our body, and we left 2 in the landing area.
As it turns out, we couldn’t see either of the glow sticks we left on the ground in the landing area when stood on top of the bridge haha.
We used our car headlights to gear up and do our checks, then we had to access the bridge (being extremely careful not to disrupt our pins, or catch anything on the fence) then walk to the exit point.
It is scary as you have to trust that your pins haven't moved from when you checked them, we had to feel our bridles to make sure we haven't caused a mis-route of some sort, as mis routing the bridle will guarantee death before you have even jumped, in fact there was a death not too long ago due to a base jumper routing their bridle through their leg strap when they were gearing up.
You cannot see anything at all. I just waited for a car or lorry to drive past so I could use their headlights for a few seconds to get a last minute view of where the rail was and to climb over.
(My glow sticks are not showing, but I was wearing them!)
After this, we climbed over the rail, again making sure not to knock anything. Once over, I checked that bridle again to make sure it hasn't gone under an arm or something.
An off-heading would disorientate you even more, thankfully we both got on-heading openings. We were able to see the 2 glow sticks on the ground once we were under canopy and coming in to land. One target for Gary and one for me in the centre of the landing area.
Once I hear Gary's canopy open, I counted to 15 and then jumped. I had to be sure to get a good exit and good pitch as I was wearing a GoPro camera on my chest, which is a potential snag hazard. It is unlikely that I would roll onto my back and snag the bridle on the camera, but it's possible. Wearing a GoPro camera on your head in this scenario would just be plain stupid.
So I gave a real good throw of my pilot chute about half a second after I pushed off to make sure it’s as far away from me as possible.
We both landed on our targets and the jump went well.
Here is our mate picking us up in his car, pointing from left to right in the field, his headlights give you an idea of how much we couldn't see haha.
I think it's the most scared I have ever been, but then being 'the most scared I have ever been' happens a lot in BASE, so I can't be sure, but it’s definitely up there with outside ladder climbs! Fucking hate those.
Jump 2 – BUILDING
10:03pm – Can't write date (paranoid about CCTV), but 2019.
I was staying in London that night as I had work there in the morning, so I put up a post on our secret base jumping group forum and asked if any locals were out playing as the winds were very minimal, and I got a reply from a guy I had made a base jump with before in Gloucester. He said that a few of the lads were going to be jumping, so he invited me to their Whats App group. It turns out there were a couple of others on the group who I knew anyway…
I brought Gary with me as we try to involve each other on jumps as we kinda started base jumping together.
It took a while to get invited into the building by a resident, but once in we didn’t mess about.
I decided to static line this jump, and Gary opted for a PCA.
The exit point on this jump was Perspex, so very slippery and I was wearing hiking boots ffs. A mate wiped the edge down with a small towel for me. I tied my break cord on to the railing and got a pin check.
I then started to stand up from the kneeling position very slowly and my knees were shaking. It was difficult to stand up tall as standing on the edge of this 65 metres building was pretty intense.
(Gary's view of me stood on the edge).
I was shitting it.
I took a moment to look around and keep in mind that a right 90 or left 90 degree opening would mean that I would need to be quick on my toggles to steer away. There was another building to my left and a half finished building to my right, and that was the one I really didn’t wanna hit as it had those steel bars for concrete all facing upwards.
(This was my view on the edge).
3, 2, 1 see ya.
Nice on heading opening, and landed in a park. An injured mate was on the ground taking photos and so I landed next to him. I then waited for the other 2 base jumpers.
Great jump, we packed in a car park afterwards and went and did another building!
Jump 3 – Antenna
10:15pm – 👻 Friday 13th September 2019 👻.
This is an antenna I have jumped a couple of times before, but it was definitely a lot scarier at night as the landing area is not particularly forgiving. It’s on a slope and the height of the ground differs depending on how far you glide. You also can’t really afford an off-heading.
With that in mind, we chose to jump static line, to try and minimise the chances of an off heading opening. This time though we were jumping from the opposite side of the Antenna than usual as we wanted the wind behind us as oppose to jumping towards it. This also meant jumping towards trees…not super ideal, the other side is better, but provided you grab your toggles after opening and make a right turn, you won’t hit the trees.
We rushed to the top of this antenna so fast, as we were trying to beat full darkness. It was the Summer so didn’t really get dark until about 9:30pm.
It’s a 62 metre tall mast and we got arm pump from climbing non-stop. The ladder is vertical (some masts have incline ladders that zig zag all the way up, and these are easier on the arms to climb).
I put two head lamps on the ground facing up. The first one was a red light, and I put that on a large slab on concrete that was raised from the ground considerably. The second one I put in the centre of the ideal place to land.
I don’t usually like lighting up a hazard (when using glow sticks) as you can end up getting fixated on it and thus landing on it. However, this was a red light and I really wanted to know where this concrete was as it’s about waist height and it would ruin our night a bit if we flew into it.
Ok so we are up top and we notice another base jumper has recently been here. We found some blue rope left on part of the antenna that was not there before. With the loop in it and where it was left, someone had tied their break cord on to it. I then remembered, a short while ago I posted on the secret UK base jumping group about the whereabouts of this antenna…so yeah, I guess someone fancied it after that haha. When I posted it and asked if anyone had jumped it before, 1 person came forward and said they had done it. For a few hours I thought me n Gary opened it.
By the time we started to tie on our break cord, the winds had picked up and had gone well over. Fuck sake. Zero wind on the ground, but the ground was surrounded by trees protecting the LZ from the wind. The further we climbed the antenna, the more we felt the wind. It was ok when we got up there but it picked up so quick and it was inflating our pilot chutes fully.
Gary and I work well together as we tend to have the same risk limits. We both agreed the wind was too strong and we shouldn’t jump, but I suggested we wait as we had no other plans that night.
15 – 20 mins later I was happy to tie on as the gusts of wind had died down and turned into a constant breeze. It was now pitch black as the Sun had gone down a while ago and there are plenty of snag hazards on the antenna.
We do have illumination thanks to the red light on top of the antenna, so we are able to see what we are doing while on the antenna, but once we jump, its pure darkness.
I climb over while Gary holds a red light so keeping an eye on my pins and bridle.
It was my turn to go first this time as I was left up the top of a crane and another building recently before this base jump. Both of us like going first haha, neither one likes being left up the top.
Its Friday the 13th, its dark, it’s a base jump and it’s windy.
Yet again, we were both scared.
I didn’t buggar about, I climbed over and jumped and got a good opening. I unstowed my toggles pretty quick and made a 150ish degree turn to the right and landed.
Gary had to wait another 5 minutes before jumping as the wind came back haha. I was half expecting him to climb down but he jumped and got a very slight off-heading to the left and then fumbled a toggle!
He had gone to unstow his brakes and he successfully unstowed the left toggle, but didn’t manage the right toggle, so the canopy turned even further to the left…he then quickly unstowed the right toggle and pulled it right down, and I have never seen a canopy turn on the spot before like that. I was sure he was fucked.
Once I saw the canopy get the off heading, and then the left turn, I was certain he was into those trees, but he got it around to the right.
The canopy dived but recovered just in time for Gary to land safely.
We both had a large beer when we got home.
Jump 4 – Earth
11pm – December 2019.
Me n Gary were chatting one night and he mentioned that we only needed to do a cliff base jump at night to complete NIGHT BASE. I was like “Oh shit, I didn’t even realise!” And then suggested we do the Avon Gorge at night as we had been planning that jump anyway, but during the day.
We weren’t trying to get our night base numbers intentionally, it just so happened that we had got 3 out of the 4 objects done at night anyway.
We waited and waited for the bullshit English weather to be right for us to drive to Bristol and base jump the Avon Gorge, but we got impatient.
A few weeks of waiting and we noticed the wind dropped off from the constant 20mph all day down to around 5mph at dinner time. Me n Gary talked about maybe going to Beachy Head and base jumping one of the lower cliffs along that coastline.
It was so cold, so so cold but we both managed to clear it with our wives, so I drove to Garys and picked him up and we headed to the Birling Gap in Eastbourne. While on the way I feel guilty that we are driving past a mate’s house boat, who is a base jumper. I call him up and explain if he is quick he can come and jump with us…he did, we picked him up and continued our drive to Beachy Head.
This little cliff that we named ‘Peachy’ is 150ft high. So it’s really low haha.
(Here is what it looks like in the day).
I had made a base jump from it once before but the other two hadn’t. I brought a new stake with me, it’s a beast and it’s called the ‘Big Ben Heavy Duty Hurricane Ground Anchor’ it has a holding power of 1260kgs. It’s more than enough for the job, in fact its super overkill as it only need to hold out 80lb break cord. I bought it for peace of mind, but it’s a bastard to get all the way into the ground, especially when its chalky like here at Beachy Head.
We had laid around 20 glow sticks on the ground in the landing area. We used yellow for the start of the landing strip, blue for the width of the landing strip, and then orange at the end to basically say “Do not for fuck sake land past this line”. There were boulders from rock fall before and after the LZ.
Our friend that joined us was going first as Gary was going to PCA him.
He was struggling to make out the glow sticks when stood on the exit point, and the fact he hadn’t made a base jump from this cliff in daylight…after a few minutes he decided he didn’t want to do the base jump.
Not a problem.
Gary tied in and was stood on the exit for several minutes. He then turned to me and said ”Do you want to go first?” To which I replied ”Ok, but that does mean I will get my NIGHT BASE number before you” He then was like ”You got your World BASE number before me, you’re not having this one”, then counted in, 3, 2, 1, see ya.
I heard his canopy open, waited for him to land on the stones and then asked if he was ok, and he was so it was now my turn.
I tied on and it was FREEZING, my hands were frozen, it had got icy, the grass was crunchy and we were all struggling to stay warm. We had a breeze from the North as well so it made it feel so much worse.
I stood on the exit, looked at the moon over the ocean and counted down.
“3, 2, 1, NIGHT BASE”
Canopy opens and I fumble the toggles.
Yep, I put gloves on after tying my break cord. I had leather gloves that I had not jumped before…silly little man.
I got my toggles on the second attempt, made the left 90 degree turn and immediately flared and landed.
I was ok, I had used up all of my available altitude, couldn’t really see a lot as it was dark but managed to land standing up.
Me n Gary high fived and then collected up the used glow sticks and walked back along the beach back to the van.
Our mate was stood there freezing. It turns out it was -4C with a northerly wind and it was past midnight.
We drove home discussing why we do this shit. I got in around 1:30am, its minus 4 degrees, it’s a week night and we are dicking around at a cliff that’s known for suicides…it is ridiculous.
We got NIGHT BASE :-)
No need to go and do that again!! Haha
Cheers for reading, sorry it was a long one, the weather has been dreadful here in England for so long now and I’m losing my mind a bit.
We did try a building twice last week but the winds are still over, and still too windy for sky diving also.
I AM NOT A BASE JUMPING INSTRUCTOR. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. DO NOT GO AND ATTEMPT TO JUMP OFF A CLIFF LET ALONE AT NIGHT BECAUSE YOU SAW MY POST.
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