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The Desert is Hot - Jill Kuzman

The Desert is Hot - Jill Kuzman
The Desert is Hot - Jill Kuzman
The Desert is Hot - Jill Kuzman
The Desert is Hot - Jill Kuzman
The Desert is Hot - Jill Kuzman
July 25, 2012 - 

The temperatures in Moab soar to over 105 degrees in the summer. Its brutal out there, but the ripping spring winds have calmed and I can't spend a nice day not jumping. Being a bartender, I work nights, so early morning jumps are a rarity for me. I've been hunting down the exit points with shorter hikes or shady hikes to try and avoid heat stroke and such. Ha.

Over the last year, I've fallen in love with the low stuff. By low stuff, about 200 feet or less. One of my favorite low jumps is Looking Glass Arch, just south of Moab, UT. This beautiful structure is a red rock amphitheater. The west side of the dome has a hole where the light shines through at sunset. Casting a looking glass, perfectly framed on the other side of the wall. This is, by far, my lowest jump. At 127 feet to impact, its a mandatory static line or PCA (pilot chute assist). These are very fast methods for parachute deployment. When an object's height does not permit freefalling an object, these are the alternatives. A static line requires a tie off point to the object, whereas with a PCA, a person is needed to hold your pilot chute until extraction of your main.


I headed out to Looking Glass with a few friends. We brought along some webbing to make a new anchor to static line off of. As we got to the top of the arch, we realized the static line bolts had been removed by someone. Boo. Not a big problem when its only a 5 minute hike to the top. So Scott (our awesome photographer and fellow BASE jumper) gets a PCA by me. Then I go next, getting a PCA from Kevin. After a whole 5 seconds of canopy flight, I land and start my hike back up the arch. I PCA Kevin, the last jumper, then begin the scariest part... The ropeless down climb of the 5.4 rated climb. While going up this thing is a breeze, oh my, its a little bit scarier going down. Stoked I had my vegan guide tennies on! Couldn't have been happier to have Stealth on my feet for this decent!

Next super hot summer jump went down a few days later on my last day in Moab before a trek back east. After being winded off this awesome new exit 2 days earlier, I got my redemption jump! This little gem of a sandstone feature, known to jumpers as 'Lollipop', is in the ballpark of 275 feet tall. This unique structure is true to its name. A 6 foot wide rock atop a 15 foot tall pedestal.

Scott and I headed out there around 11am. Another alpine start for this early bird! We hiked up the slightly shaded gully with our BASE rigs and Scott's camera gear. We geared up at the base of the pedestal and hand over handed the fixed rope to the top of the pop. Talk about exposure! Winds are great! Lets go! I go first. I get a decent running push to clear the 3-4 foot lip below the summit. Scott snaps the awesome photos. I decided to land on the sand hill off to the right.

Scott stashes the camera gear and heads up to the summit. The winds picked up a little. I see his pilot chute blowing in his hand. He waits for a few minutes. Its finally calm. Scott exits, turns and lands downhill from me. Awesome jumps. Awesome exit. I love the uniqueness of the features that I get to experience in Utah. Stunning red rock surrounded by green washes from the summer flash floods. Blue skies, white clouds. I remember again why I live in the 105 degree desert.

Scott and I start the hike back up for the camera gear. Unfortunately, our heat index to water supply ratio was way off. Good job, Moab locals. You know better than this. We get back to the car, parched. Lucky for us, on our drive out we pass a big white catering tent. Its some John Deere rally event. Fully stocked with cold water and lemonade. Score! The desert provides again!


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