Saturday, August 21, 2010

Boulders and BASE-jumping.

I’m feeling out of place. I’ve come to Lysebotn, a small village that sit on the Lysefjord, about a 3 hour boat-ride from Stavanger in Norway. I came here to hike to the Kjerag boulder, and expected the hostel to be full of people doing the same. It is, however, full of people that hike up to the boulder, continue past it to the cliffs, then hurl themselves off them. They're BASE-jumpers. I’ve arrived at their southern Norwegian epicenter, and they are everywhere.

In the past 24 hours I’ve had a crash course in all things BASE-jumping, not that I am any closer to understanding their conversations. They speak in a language more foreign to me than Norwegian, but every once in awhile they’ll courteously turn to explain what this means or why that type of jump is bad. Last night the conversation included casual talk of the Russian guy who died jumping here three weeks ago, and another guy’s plans to go up Everest next year. To BASE-jump you have to have a minimum of 250 sky-dives under your belt, but many that I've talked to have done at least 300-500, “just to be prepared.” I hiked up to the cliffs they take off from yesterday, and what prepares a person to go over the edge of one of them is beyond me.

It’s all about perspective, however. Most of the world thinks BASE-jumpers are crazy, but when you’re submersed in a group of them it becomes the most normal thing in the world. It’s just what they do, what they love; everyone says I should take up the hobby too, casually suggesting it as they would scrap-booking or model airplane-making. Telling them you’ve bungee-jumped is like announcing to a room full of Michelin-star chefs that you once made Kraft Dinner.

This morning I was told to go down to the dock, look for “Ryan from Canada,” and go with him on the boat to the landing site for the jumpers.  So I did, and I ended up atop a big boulder, watching as over twenty of them rained down two or three at a time. I squinted hard to spot their tiny bodies buzzing through the air before their chutes went up and a few of them wore wingsuits, making them look like flying squirrels. And they do actually fly, higher and for longer than I thought possible for a person that hasn’t jumped out of a plane.

They're not crazy; they are extremely confident, ambitious, and outgoing souls whose lust for life I admire. There's no frigging way I'm taking up BASE-jumping, though.

1 comment:

  1. That is insane! Sounds like a very interesting and exciting group of people though!