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5 Most Popular Spots for BASE Jumping


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Yosemite National Park, Calif.
El Capitan in Yosemite is where BASE jumping got its start in 1966 and is still a favorite location because of its smooth granite face -- no outcroppings on which to hit.
El Capitan in Yosemite is where BASE jumping got its start in 1966 and is still a favorite location because of its smooth granite face -- no outcroppings on which to hit.
Photodisc/Thinkstock

Adored by hikers, rock climbers and campers, Yosemite National Park in California is a BASE jumper's dream. In fact, that's where the sport got its start. In 1966, Michael Pelkey and Brian Schubert made the first free fall from El Capitan's 3,000-foot (914.40-meter) vertical face [source: Iqbal]. In the beginning, park rangers didn't mind the BASE jumpers. Now the sport is expressly verboten from Yosemite's cliffs. In the summer of 2010, Ammon McNeely, the so-called "El Cap Pirate," was Tased by a park ranger. That December, he pleaded guilty in federal court to "air delivery of a person by parachute" [source: Smiley].

While some countries welcome BASE jumpers, in the United States these free-falling devil-may-care athletes guard their favorite haunts. Officials in New York City banned BASE jumping in 2006 after Jeb Corliss attempted to jump off the Empire State Building. However, there are some places, such as the Perrine Bridge in Idaho, where jumpers can legally take the plunge. Nevertheless, El Capitan is still a favorite location, even with the rangers on the prowl. Its smooth granite face is perfect -- no outcroppings on which to hit. Those that do make it to Yosemite do so stealthily. To avoid being seen, BASE jumpers say they have to fall farther than they should before pulling their chutes [source: Smiley].


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