I’m always amazed at the time I spend preparing for a BASE trip in comparison to the time I’ll actually spend in flight for it. It’s not uncommon I spend over twenty hours planning a trip that only yields about three-minutes of flight time. Hours are spent on logistical preparation, travel time, location and exit-point scouting and hiking. On paper, the time spent planning for a flight vs. flight time doesn’t seem to add up, yet time and time again those few seconds in flight are so potent it makes it’s all worth it.
Chiapas, Mexico, Canyon de Sumidero - Jeff Provenzano
Once again I found myself on another BASEfari with teammate Miles Daisher in Chiapas, Mexico. A BASEfari is a term I think nicely titles our goal of hunting for the tallest cliffs to fly off of. After weeks of research, emails and computer time it all finally came together. From the moment I stepped off the plane the real adventure began.
Normally the drive to the canyon shouldn’t have been so long but we ran into a few roadblocks, literally. At one point protestors laid road-spikes across the highway, which forced us to take an impromptu eight-hour detour. When we finally arrived to Canyon de Sumidero, we still had a lot of prep-work and scouting to do.
We scouted out the canyon by river, taking boats to check things out and form a plan. It was the easiest way to see the entire canyon, get a good idea of the terrain, and get our eyes on potential exit points and the lines we would fly. Based on previous research we knew the general area of the jump but still needed to work out the details.
On the top of the canyon rim we began working our way through the dense jungle. This wasn’t as simple as hiking to previous exit points in places like the Alps or Norway. Here our only option was bushwhacking new trails with our machetes. As we reached the cliffs edge it was easy to determine our best exit point, which happened to have a protruding ledge below. For a situation like this we calculate our ability to clear it by tossing a softball size rock and counting the seconds of vertical drop to impact. This spot had a clean 6-7 seconds, allowing enough time for our wingsuits to start flying and clear it.
The final situation is finding a safe landing area. This turned out to be simple, as we didn’t have any options. Option 1: Land in the crocodile infested water, or option 2: land on a boat. Sometimes it’s not about finding a landing area but about creating one, so we rigged up a small 8x12ft plywood platform on top of a riverboat. This is a super small landing area, and with aggressive currants a constantly shifting one. At the end of the day it all turned out awesome.
There is something so powerful and amazing about BASE jumping that justifies these countless hours of preparation for a few seconds of reward. I’ll never be able to properly articulate my experiences in a way that could ever bring BASE jumping any justice, but I hope you at least enjoy the photos from my trip. A BIG thank you to Altius for making this possible and bringing us down to Mexico to film and document this project.