While the average person may not know that BASE is an acronym for Bridge, Antennae, Span, Earth -- the four things these adrenaline junkies launch themselves off of -- pretty much everyone knows by now that BASE jumping is about as safe as paddling a surfboard into a tsunami. The ultimate adrenaline sport requires jumpers to leap from relatively low heights and pull their chute before it’s too late -- it’s illegal almost everywhere, the margin for error is non-existent, and BASE jumpers themselves are disappearing faster than black rhinos.
Special skills required: It’s a complete toss up over which is more important here: the courage of a Navy SEAL or the IQ of an actual seal.
How not to die: Simple: the higher the jump, the more time you have to deploy your chute properly. But, too high, and it’s just a simple skydive.
Best place to do it: While there are more BASE jumping fatalities in Switzerland’s beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley than anywhere else in the world, its famous cliffs also happens to be a popular spot to learn -- two stats which seem somehow related. Here in the U.S., the 876-foot New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia is a popular spot, even hosting a legal jump for one day each year in October, which draws hundreds of BASE enthusiasts.