Caught on camera: BASE jumper’s terrifying plummet down cliff face


posted Friday, December 6, 2013 at 1:54 PM EST


We've seen some spectacular -- and spectacularly painful-looking -- action camera videos, but this one truly takes the cake. As jaded as we might've become in the face of an onslaught of first-person extreme sports action thanks to the folks at GoPro and their rivals, we still found ourselves gasping and moaning aloud, as we watched a clip of a BASE jumper's exploits going badly wrong.

(We should probably note here that although he's certainly come out much the worse for wear, the BASE jumper -- who goes by the Vimeo username of Subterminallyill -- survived, and we're sure he'll be back on the BASE-jumping horse before too much longer.)

The video shows the start of what looks to be a fairly typical BASE jump, if there is such a thing: a leap from the top of a cliff, and a sheer drop that is at once terrifyingly tall, and yet seems like it leaves far too little time to get a parachute deployed and the descent under control. And then, just moments after the jump starts, we cut to slow motion, and we know something is about to mark this jump out from all the others.

We're not BASE jumpers ourselves, but the parachute appears not to deploy correctly, spiraling its pilot -- now a helpless passenger -- around and directly into the cliff face. From there, things get considerably worse, as he's first smashed into a rather wicked-looking rock projection, and then left to plummet all the way to the ground, barely slowed by a parachute that's now dragging down the rock face behind him.

Vimeo user Subterminallyill's BASE jump goes wrong. Spectacularly wrong. And yet somehow he -- and his camera -- live to tell the tale in terrifying slow motion.

It's edge-of-the-seat stuff, and we wish we knew more about the BASE jumper, what inspired him to take up his hobby, how he's doing, and just what went wrong. (We wouldn't mind knowing what gear the video was shot with, either -- it's not identified in the clip or on Vimeo.) All we do know for sure is that subterminallyill -- whose username now seems strangely prescient -- suffered a compression fracture of the T12 vertebra, 11 stitches on his face, and severe sprains to back, wrist and hand, not to mention the bumps and bruises you'd expect.

We've reached out to him, and hopefully we'll be able to learn a little more -- or just say thanks for living life on the edge, and for allowing us a vicarious peek into something we don't quite have the stomach to try for ourselves. If we do, we'll update this item with whatever we've discovered.

(via DIY Photography)