BaseJumpers

Baffin, Canada – Post-holing up The Beak was one of those memories that, in my mind, i’ve relegated to Type 2 fun.  Had I not been with an amazing crew, It most certainly would have been closer to type 3 fun.

We departed from our base camp down in Sam Ford Fjord on Baffin Island, early in the morning.  It was light outside, but only because it’s always light outside at that time of year. We glided across the frozen sea on snowmobiles, the arctic wind whipping at our covered faces.  Rolling up at the base, we geared up for the long climb ahead.  This was a scouting mission so the BASE jumpers could get some test jumps in.  Filming would begin the following morning.  As we trudged up the backside of the cliff face, the sun beat down on the snow, burning our already tan faces.  Wind blew by us, drowning out the heavy breathing. The group slowly crawled up the backside, hitting false summit after false summit.

When we finally reached the ridge, the launch point stuck out like a sore thumb.  We stood there looking around at some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. In front of us, a wind swept frozen fjord extended into the vast arctic wasteland. Behind us, a glacial remnant of the forces that have shaped the landscape for a millennia, creaked and groaned as it scoured it’s way down through the rock.   The silence was deafening.

The build up of adrenaline was electrifying as the BASE jumpers checked and rechecked their equipment. After what seemed like an eternity, they were ready. The three of them perched at the edge of the cliff, issuing words of encouragement, and in a moment they were gone, rocketing toward the frozen ocean below.  My eyes were transfixed on the spot where they had been standing, but I looked down in time to see their parachutes open up.  Screams of excitement interrupted the unnerving silence, and we watched as they effortlessly steered their canopies down to the valley floor. Once again, we were soon bathed in an inescapable quiet. Our reason for being there had just jumped off the cliff.  We looked around, exchanging congratulations of our own, and started packing up our things for the hike down, which ended up being substantially easier.

It’s interesting how fleeting these moments seem. Timy Dutton, one of the BASE jumpers on the shoot, died last week in a skydiving accident at one of his favorite jump locations. Time stops with the passing of friends, and while he is no longer here, the impressions that Timy made on all of us will last forever, which is a comforting thought.

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