For many people around the world, the Golden Gate Bridge serves as the unofficial trademark of Northern California. Crossing the San Francisco Bay from the Marin Headlands to San Francisco’s Presidio sits the beautiful, bright red crown of the city by the bay.
As thousands of tourists head to the famed bridge each day, it has also become a destination for illegal BASE jumping – or jumping off the top of the towers with a parachute.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people have been able to accomplish the task of BASE jumping off the bridge, as it’s highly-illegal and people may have not wanted document the jump with the fear of being prosecuted by authorities. But there are two incidents that have been made public, that show the shear danger of doing the stunt.
The first example comes out of 1984, when Ron Broyles and Richard Berke jumped off the 750-foot tower of the bridge, with both encountering nearly fatal accidents. In trusting an FAA certified rigger to pack their bags, both the men’s parachutes were packed backwards, sending them crashing into the tower and causing severe injuries to both of them. Fortunately, they both survived being stuck on the side of the tower.
Watch the ordeal with a clip from the History Channel:
Then in 2001, famed extreme athlete Jeb Corliss accomplished the stunt during the early morning to avoid being arrested by authorities. Him and an accomplice successfully accomplished the jump and hid in the bushes next to the bridge for 7 hours to avoid the police search boats and helicopters.
Corliss, never one to avoid controversy, posted the whole process in a vlog:
Corliss has become world-renown for his stunts across the globe, and especially for this near-death experience on a South African cliff. We won’t show you the gruesome video of the crash (a simple Google search will get you there) but we will show you the subsequent interview he did with Conan O’Brien regarding the incident:
BASE jumping is considered by many (it could probably be known as fact by now) to be by far the most dangerous sport on the planet. So much can go wrong and the BASE jumping community is riddled with deaths of young men looking for that perfect adrenaline rush.
We don’t condone the actions of the men. We simply document them. If they want to put their lives on the line for the rush – that’s their prerogative. No matter how you think of BASE jumping, there’s no doubting that it’s pretty mesmerizing to watch.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine