If you consider yourself a seasoned skydiver and have considered the extreme sport of BASE jumping, then you have probably wondered where you can train.
BASE jumping is a semi-legal extreme sport that involves parachuting from fixed objects. The “BASE" is an acronym for the four categories of fixed points from which you jump, which are Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), and Earth (cliffs). The sport originated in the mid 1960's when two rogue jumpers parachuted off El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, something that is now illegal in a National Park. Since 1981, those who have jumped from all four “B.A.S.E.” categories can be issued a “BASE Number,” which are currently approaching 1,600, according to the BaseNumbers website.
This is an inherently dangerous sport that requires a high level of professional training with specialized equipment before you ever take your first plunge. Even if you have skydived hundreds of jumps, don’t attempt to BASE jump without training. Most training centers require you to already have 150 to 200 skydives under your belt before they will even consider teaching you the initial “First Jump Course” (FJC). If you are ready, FJCs are available from various BASE organizations and gear manufacturers around the world, and some of the best are in the Western U.S.
Located in Twin Falls, Idaho, Snake River BASE Academy offers 4 full days of traditional first jump training that includes slider up packing, something not part of traditional FJC's. The Snake River course focuses on fundamental BASE skills, the history and ethics of BASE, and the teamwork necessary for BASE jumps. The course is limited to a maximum of 5 students. The course cost of $850 also includes a packing video, packing tools, a course reader, a BASE log book and Snake River t-shirt.
The Academy's “Death Camp,” offered twice each year, is a more comprehensive introduction to BASE. Besides the standard First Jump training, the course covers “appropriate brake settings, advanced packing techniques, object avoidance techniques, object evaluation, and landing skills.” The Death Camp is free, but admission is highly competitive based on an evaluation of each student’s skills, reference checks, and past class completion.
Moroheus Technologies’ First Jump Course trains at the Perrine Bridge, also located in Twin Falls, Idaho. The bridge sits 486 feet above the Snake River and is the longest span bridge in North America. At 1,500 feet, the Perrine Bridge is a great spot to train first time jumpers and is a popular spot for the entire BASE community. Although the bridge is open to jumping year around, Morpheus schedules their FJC training during the warmer summer months. The 3-day courses are much more personalized and Moroheus generally schedules them around those dates when potential students show the most interest.
This 3-day course covers the different types of jumps, how to choose the right equipment, safety and protective gear, making a site assessment, packing techniques, choosing a pilot chute, canopy control, and BASE ethics. Cost for this course instruction is $825 if you have your own gear or you purchase the gear from Moroheus, and $1,050 if you rent their gear.