The subject of this post is a little off topic. I came across the following video recently and it blew me away. It also got me thinking. And since thinking is what this blog is about, I wanted to share the video and my thoughts with you.
The video is a spectacular composition of base jump footage shot in the Alps. In base jumping, grown men of sane mind throw themselves off a mountain and open a parachute at the last minute… for fun. The jumpers are wearing a wingsuit, which gives them some forward motion while falling and allows them some degree of control over the direction of their fall. They reach speeds of about 140mph. As one of them says in another video, ‘At first when we base jumped our goal was to get as far from the rock face as possible. But after a while that became boring, so now we play around with it a little.’ Playing around with it means they guide themselves using the wingsuit to ‘buzz’ the rock face to as close as an arm’s length away and thread themselves through little irregularities in the rock wall. The scary thing about it is you must remember they are not flying, they are falling. They cannot ‘pull up’ if they have misjudged the height of the next rock wall.
From a philosophical point of view, I think they are crazy. My opinion is the same as the one I give to people who ask me if I have ever been parachute jumping. To risk your life for the sake of pleasure is something I cannot understand. If you are talking about practicing parachute jumping as a military skill, a necessary ability in a noble cause, then I can see the point and find it worthy, and laudable.
The same goes for base jumping. The jumpers may be worthy and laudable people, but it does not come particularly from this activity. You can bombard me with the arguments ‘oh, they are pushing beyond their limits, oh they are conquering their fear’ and all that, the bottom line is they are doing it for a kick. Whereas if you were to ask a group of soldiers to learn to base jump in order to carry out a mission to save lives, it would be noble, brave and admirable. That is my view. I am open to your arguments.
Having said that, all tastes can be found in nature. That these guys and gals get a kick from doing this is a part of the human kaleidoscope. There will always be people willing to risk their lives for the thrill of it. You certainly cannot deny that what they do calls for huge dollops of courage. And it must give them a huge kick.
The music by Ugress that accompanies the video is very well chosen and the video is beautifully edited to match it. If it were not for the music, this would be just another base jump video. But the music takes the images to another level, beyond the edge of the real to a nightmare world where reason has no say. Here you have the dreadful dark awesome power and beauty of the human spirit, taunting death with a smile and a laugh, as it hurtles through space. Only to land and climb back up the mountain to do it again.
Note: See the jumper Halvor Angvik’s response to this post here.
Thanks to Halvor Angvik for the video and editing, to Ugress for the music, and to Pakiavelli for publishing to Youtube