I think my summer has finally come to an end. I look back and can’t quite remember all the places I visited. It was certainly the most traveling I have ever done in a summer. Things in my life are really starting to develop further than I had ever Imagined. I remember when I first moved to Twin Falls, ID. My intention was to get really good at Aerials Base Jumping. My background in gymnastics, pole vaulting, and skiing gave me the acrobatic abilities to wisely work toward doing aerials (flips) in Base Jumping. I wanted to travel around the world, jumping off of things, and get paid for it. I made small moves in my life that almost seemed meaningless at the time, but now that I look back they were all necessary pieces to the puzzle. Before now, I didn’t know the exact formula to get to where I am now. I just had the desire to be good at what I do and to have more fun than I could ever imagine. I didn’t focus on getting sponsors or the normal bullshit that lots of jumpers focus on, turns out that having sponsors certainly does not automatically make you a good BASE Jumper. I just focused on being controlled and sharp like a razor blade. Things slowly but surely started unfold into this interesting life that I am now living. I say interesting because thats the description I get from most people when I tell the stories. To me it is just normal and I am just the same ole Sean, deep down.
I get stressed at times because I often don’t have enough time in a day to do what I need and want to do, but otherwise, like I said, I am the same ole’ Sean that I have always been. I know things are just going to get better, but my intention remains the same. Its the intention to have fun.
I am very passionate about Base Jumping and all the money in the world can’t beat the amazing experiences that are out there. It can help you have those experiences though. It is a balancing act. I feel like it is very important, as a jumper, to love BASE so much that you can’t live without it. My purpose for jumping is because it is fun, it makes me feel like me. I don’t do it for videos, or likes, or fame, though that stuff seems to be a bi-product at the moment. If a jumpers purpose for jumping is to be famous, or be liked by others, or get internet famous, I feel like they are in it for the wrong reason. Sure it may help you be a more well rounded extreme sports athlete, but in the end if it isn’t your true passion, how are you going to feel if something bad happens. Will it be worth it? Will there be regrets? I do it for the love of the sport and good things seem to come out of that.
I think back on last summer, the summer of 2014, whoa! sounds so futurstic!
I believe it started off with my first European Base jump courses. My friend Jarno Cordia, a truly expert wingsuit pilot, and I booked two courses back to back. The students consisted of Europeans, Aussies, and an American. The Basic low jump training was in Croatia for a few days and then on to Monte’ Brento, in Arco, Italy for Terminal Jumps. Terminal meaning Terminal Velocity. You could easily be confused if you don’t know the lingo. We had an amazing group of students in each class. It was a learning experience for myself and the students. I was teaching a Base Jump Course in a place I had never even been to, which made things a bit challenging. Here at the Perrine I have routine and I know the bridge and conditions very well. In Croatia I had to adjust to the new rhythm of that bridge. Myself and my classes were able to do that, and I have made that special place a second home for myself. A getaway within my world. A European headquarters, if you will. I will certainly have more classes out there and plan to be part of an organization of a few different classes that are working together to develop proper training for new jumpers.
The courses went well and all the guys seemed to like the way it was going. I become attached to my students. I feel emotion when they jump. I get inside their heads and share the experience with them so that they know they are not alone. I am in the moment with them when they are scared shitless, but I am the guiding voice for them in that moment. You can see how this can create a strong bond between the instructor and the student. We have already lost one of the students to a car wreck since those Euro courses. Alex Ross, as he goes by on facebook. He was the mixed Russian/ Australian kid that was very humble, wise and physically skilled. He lives on in the experiences and memories that we all had with him.
After going back and forth from Croatia- Italy, Croatia- Italy, and meeting with Robert Pecnik, owner of Phoenix-fly, and Stane Krajnc and his son Andrej, from Atair, for some hang out time, I realized I have an amazing network of friends in Europe.
I feel like I could go see any of these guys at any time and they would take me in if it was necessary. I have so much respect for all these guys. Anyways (ADD) After the two courses, I staid in Brento after Jarno and most of the students had left. It was a perfect opportunity to tune up my wingsuiting skills. Jarno let me borrow his brand new Vampire Race for Brento and Paganella. I jumped the shit out of it and had some amazing breakthroughs and elevations in skill. I got to jump a bit with Noah Bahnson (a master at flying) and the beautiful Roberta Mancino (who seems to have an inescapable mesmerizing gaze).
I got to hang with my friend Ryan Scarlett, who I truly admire as a friend, in the sport of Base jumping. Ryan and I spent my first summer together in Twin Falls. He came from New Zealand. We were both fairly new jumpers and we had the best times jumping and pushing each other forward. We bounced ideas off each other about aerials and such, and we both increased our skill levels big time that summer. Seeing him in Brento was a real surprise, as it was the first time we had wingsuited with each other.
I had a bit of a esspresso drinking problem while I was out there. If you have been to Europe you may understand. There are coffee bars all over the place in Italy and I really do enjoy an Americano. The esspresso out that way seems to stick to your teeth a lot more than in the States. One day i was brushing my teeth and i noticed, not stains, but rather some kind of matter on my teeth. I brushed hard but it wouldn’t come off. It almost appeared as if my teeth were rotting. I freaked out for a minute and then started scratching it off with my fingernail. I got most of it off, but meanwhile i had changed my mind about how much I was enjoying the coffee out there. I put a stop to it for the sake of my smile. I was in way too deep anyhow. I’m not saying I quit forever, I just stopped drinking the coffee in Italy. I’m sure I will relapse and go through the same process next time as well.
As always, after a couple weeks, I became homesick and was ready to make my way home. I must confess that one of my biggest stresses in life seems to be baggage limitations on airlines. It is a huge ordeal to try to take all the flying toys on a trip. I rarely have room for much clothing. I often pack everything I need and then start with the process of elimination. I am getting better at it, but I still get very anxious before a trip, due to the limitations.
After this Euro trip, I went home and Taught a Base FJC or two and then headed to southern California to do some wingsuit training and jumping for the Red Bull Aces Wingsuit Race. This race was legit and so fun but so nerve racking at the same time. We mostly jumped out of a Sky Van, 4 jumpers at a time. We then weaved through a course of pylons that were hanging about 100 ft or so below the 4 helicopters. I never imagined I would be flying so close to chopper blades. The idea was terrifying at first but once we all got into it, it wasn’t so bad. Fuck that was fun. There were some of the best pilots in the world and the competition was super fierce… I still managed to finish in the top 16 out of 52 competitors. I even won a thousand bucks, which paid for that trip!! I learned a lot about a different type of flying from that race. The wingsuit I borrowed, since mine had to be sold about a month before the race, was built for Robert Pecnik. Robert is about 6′ 1”. I am 5′ 9”. The suit didn’t fit. You need a nice amount of tension in the suit for cleaner flight. So, I had to cut a couple pair of sandals up and make a platform to put inside the booties of the suit. I also wore thick soled shoes. This raised me up about 4-5 inches so that I could get tension in the suit and fly it properly. I told many people at the race about what I had done to modify the suit, and most laughed, but many of them were seriously thinking about buying a suit too big. Everyone is always a little jealous of the tall guys because they end up having more wing and sometimes seem to perform better. This is a way that the shorter person can be a tall wingsuit pilot. My ghetto methods make me laugh sometimes.
After the Red Bull Aces, I headed back home for some always enjoyable time in Twin Falls.
I think I put on another course or two and some advanced training classes, and did some speedflying with my friend Will Burks. He is a bad ass Speedflyer. He is a pro skiier dude that just flies constantly up near Sun Valley, ID. He is a fun dude to hang out with and a really good dude to learn about the art of speedflying from.
I think next came the Las Vegas Base jumper bash with Jimmy and Marta. That was a pretty damn good time. I went down there with my roomate Joey and our friend Marc Lambert. I can’t remember if Joey was with his girlfriend at the time or not. On a side note, they break up a lot, and even when he says he will never go back to her, he proves us all wrong and they work it out. I think we, as his friends, know him better than he knows himself these days. It was a lot better when he just liked the big girls, rather than having something serious. His amazingly screwed up relationship has taught me a lot though. It has taught me that attachment can be very confused with love. I’m pretty sure he is just attached. He breaks up and says he is over it for sure this time…. Then all of a sudden he is lonely and seems to forget all the shit he hated and complained about in the relationship. I always just tell him facetiously that, “maybe it’ll work this time.” He might end up being a little pissed I even wrote about this but it has been a bold theme for a while now and deserves attention. It’s ridiculous.
Anyways… Vegas, ahh yes… Lots of jumpers and no jumping, just long hangout sessions and good times. We all staid at the nugget on Fremont Street. Most of us staid by the pool for days, except when they kicked us out at night. It was a pretty out of control party and I can’t even mention some of the details. What happens in Vegas Stays, it just would’t be right if I got into the deets. We had a pretty good and low stress time down there. Joey ate a bunch of lifesavers and was dancing around for hours at the late night party. Turns out the lifesavers had a couple hundred milligrams of caffeine in each one.
After a few days of rest we continued our Twin Falls local life as usual with an awesome “Roundy Summer.” We jumped our round parachutes a lot this past summer. They are the best for the hot days and low openings. They slow you down just enough to land in the water. If you did land on dry land, you would be hurting. Its one of the most exciting things about our home in the summer. It turns our sport into a water sport. Some people don’t quite understand how dangerous it can be if you don’t do it right. If you open too high, you can easily float over land and pound into the ground. If you open too low, well, its over. So there is a happy medium for this happy sport. I miss it already just thinking about it.
Sometime around this time we also took the amazing Dorothy Custer on that hot air balloon ride we promised her. We did that for her 103rd birthday. We got to jump out for her while she played her harmonica in the balloon, haha! See we owed her this balloon ride because we gave her three wishes. The summer before I took her on a tandem base jump off the bridge here in Twin Falls. That was wish number 1. She said she also wanted to ride on an elephant, and go for a ride in a hot air balloon. She is so damn sweet! We took her on that elephant the week after the jump, thanks to the Shriner’s Circus. Me and Joey even got to ride it with her. The balloon took a bit longer to figure out. See, we wanted to be able to jump out of the balloon, cuz what is a balloon ride if you can’t jump out. We finally found a guy in Utah that was down for the cause. He had no issues letting us bail out. I had thought about hooking Dorothy up to me and jumping tandem with her, but I didn’t want to take any extra chances and possibly hurt her. Its one thing to do crazy shit on your own, but it is a whole different thing if you have someone attached to you. You can hurt yourself but you don’t want to hurt someone else. Her being 103 years old makes her a bit more fragile so I didn’t want to take that risk. One jump was enough for her and I care too much for her. So we jumped for her. The balloon pilot told us lots of stories about how he used to take Patrick Swayze up in balloons to jump. Swayze sounds like he was a pretty crazy dude. When the balloon was getting pretty high up, the pilot started freaking out and telling us it was time to jump right now! Dorothy was playing her harmonica and we jumped one at a time, in a hurry.
Now that i am writing this i realize how screwed up my timeline is. The timing is not important though. I’m just trying to paint a picture of the experiences.
I can’t forget about having Lonnie Bissonnette out here in twinzo. He brought a tv crew from ESPN with him and Joey built him a platform and I pushed him off the bridge in his wheelchair for his 10 year anniversary since his paralyzing accident at the Perrine bridge. The Story the guys did for ESPN was really good and I was stoked to be a part of it. I was even more stoked though, after the Camera crew left, to push Lonnie off a local cliff and complete his wheelchair BASE. That means he jumped all four objects in the word BASE, in his chair. It stands for Building, Antenna, Span, Earth. What a bad ass. We had this platform that Joey California built in the back of his small pickup truck. We backed the truck up to the edge of the cliff and it stuck over the cliff by about 8 ft. It was perfect. His opening was good and then Lonnie face planted into a bush and we were laughing our asses off once we saw him smiling. He landed going so fast and then his front wheels snagged the ground and he went airborn again. Joey found him laughing and covered up by his parachute.
Shortly after this, I was off to the most beautiful places on Earth. Zakynthos, Greece. Holy shit! I love it there and shall return. Blue Raspberry Kool-aid waters and pebbly white sand on secluded beaches full of pretty girls… and Base jumpers! Go fast and Apex Base (Jimmy, Marta, and Hank) put on this amazing Base boogie. There was about 30 of us. I crashed a scooter and have souvenir scars forever. Anyways… There is this cliff out there that is about 600ft. It is over a magical beach that has a shipwreck on it. You can only get to the beach by boat or down the cliff. We jumped in and chilled at the bottom. I even got to do 3 of the most beautiful Tandem Base Jumps ever off that cliff. That paid for my trip. Actually my friend Vicente is to thank for making that trip happen for me. He wanted to do something special for his Fernanda. He called me up and asked, if he flew me to Greece, could I take his girl on a tandem off that cliff. I checked out the specs on the cliff and made a decision that it was possible. I ended up taking two other girlfriends of jumpers as well and it was the shit! I can’t wait to go back. But all good things come to and end until the next good thing comes along. There is a nice video of it here.
Home was the next good thing. When you travel this much going home is almost a better feeling that actually getting to your vacation destination. Its strange but true for me. I love Twin Falls and all my friends and my bridge.
Amongst all this something pretty tragic happened last summer. My friend Chris broke his neck on a tandem skydive. He was charged by a dust devil and ended up with a complete C4 spinal cord injury. See his fundraiser page here. This was pretty tough for him and his friends and family. Chris is my inter dimensional brother. We have a long history and this hit me hard.
This along with the experiences I have had with Lonnie B, motivated me to become more involved in doing something for people with spinal cord injuries. I am actually going to start a program to take people with SCI’s on tandem base jumps. I can’t imagine how stoked these peeps would be to do this. I know I can do it. I believe that I can even get grants to pay for and make the project even more awesome. I love to make people smile and this would truly do that. I love to inspire the world to do what they want to do. I love to help people have fun. This experience with Chris is super devastating but as one door closes another opens. This directed my energy in a different direction and has changed my whole life as well as his an his family members.
I made a couple trips to see Chris. One right after the accident and then one to see him in Georgia at the Shepherd Center. He is now back home in New York and I plan to visit him in December before heading off to my friend Donald Schultz’s wedding in South Africa.
So a couple weeks after Greece I took off to Malaysia and ended up doing about 67 jumps in the week that I was there. I love that Base jump event. Gary Cunningham does an amazing job at making it super fun. He sets the pace and jumps like a mad man. He did over 100 jumps in the four days and packed all of them himself. I don’t know where he gets the energy to keep jumping after complete exhaustion. He just keeps going anyways. In KL I did some new tricks and had fun on the rope swing. Slanders got some sweet photos of all this. I got to use my sweet new rig that Apex Base gave me over the summer. It is a Summit Container in gangster I-D Base/ Harlem Globetrotter colors. It even says Inter-Demented. I love that thing. I have been testing out their new Lobo canopy. They gave me a 220 which is smaller than I would normally jump but it is perfect. I think i have put over 300 jumps on it since I got it this summer. Thanks guys! Another tangent,
sorry readers… KL was a short trip and when i got back i wasn’t even effected by the 15 hour time difference or the jet lag. After all the traveling I am able to quickly adjust and hop in and out of different time zones in very short periods of time. I still dislike airport security and baggage limitations, fyi.
I got home from KL and did a course or two and then rented a car to drive to Bridge Day in Fayetteville, West Virginia. I love that Bridge.
Matt Frohlich and I did a total of 13 Tandem Base Jumps under my company Tandem BASE. We had it running so smoothly with packers, a driver for our personal shuttle car, an exit coordinator, and even a wheel barrow
man to carry the wet rigs to the packers. It was amazing. we finished so early that I even got to do 2 extra jumps on my own. Matt and I did a two way and then I went solo off that diving board. I think it was six flips and 2.5 full twists. That bridge is the perfect height to do Inter Dimensional gangster shit. The after party was fun as usual and I got to see old faces and new ones. One of the best things about these events is seeing all my friends. It was so much fun. It sounds like next year the authorities want to fingerprint all the jumpers. I think this is going to make a lot of people boycott the event. Kind of a shame that they think they need to take our fingerprints. Before the drive I packed the rental car with all the gear and as much Magic Hat #9 beer that i could fit. I ended up taking about 70 beers home from the East side of the US. I love that stuff so if you ever want to get me a nice gift from the East. Magic Hat #9 please.
I drove the shit out of that car. 5,000 miles. I certainly got my moneys worth. I even got to see my lovely Grandma and Grandpa Chuma and my dad along the way. My Grandma had her house decorated for halloween. She has so many lights and stuff like that. It was the only house in the hood that was decorated to such a high level. She cracks me up. I stopped to see my College friend and brother from another mother, Lyon Avila. The friend that taught me how to stop stressing and just chill the funk out. Thanks for that Leroy!
off for one last end of summer trip… in November. I went back to Italy. To Brento. I went with my long time friend Adam Clark, the dude that got me into Base. We always skydived together and he started jumping Base about a year before me. I used to go ground crew on solo missions for him and wanted to jump so bad. He helped me by telling me the moves to make. Buy a rig, go take a course at the Perrine… then he took me for my first antenna, then the local bridge. Anyways it was cool cuz he had
always jumped low stuff and Brento was to be his first Terminal wall. I was out there with a fresh Phoenix-fly Venom Power wingsuit. Harlem globerotter colors. I was taking it there to break it in. Oh man it is legit. So much fun and power.
I also took my brand new Tandem Rig out there. I have a new light weight tandem troll from Atair and a sweet container that Nick Burden from Black Sheep Rigging made for me. He even made me a super sick Pilot chute with the Black Sheep logo on it. Anyways excess baggage prices are ridiculous but i took my tandem rig anyways. I got to do the first tandem base jump ever off of Brento. this cliff is nearly 4,000 ft to the valley floor below. We did a static line and had an amazing flight along the wall. Up close and personal with birds and caves and faces on the wall. The very first passenger was none other than the well known Maurizio Di Palma. He is one of the few that has over 3,000 base jumps and has been around for much of the history of Brento. He has made over 1,000 jumps from Brento and has jumped some other famous monuments. I am very happy that I took him on the first one. I will now be offering Tandem Base jumps at Brento and will be working Directly with Maurizio on this. Tandem Base has just branched out to Europe. Damn straight!
I got 18 jumps on this trip, and jumped 3 different cliffs. I met some cool people. I didn’t know it could rain so much but I just played in the mud anyhow. Next time I’m gonna take Fabio the Base bus driver or one of those girls from the bar, on a tandem.
During this trip I was more homesick than ever. Once i got home, yet again I felt better than when I got to my vacation destination. This is a good thing. This means my whole life is a vacation. I am always welcomed by my friends and special people in my life when I get home. It wasn’t time to relax just yet. Opening day of my little ski hill, Pomerelle, was the day after I got home, so you know what I did. I tried to ignore it but I was a little jet lagged. In a couple days I am teaching an advanced Base course to some cool dudes and then heading for my fifth year in a row at the Turkey Boogie in Moab, UT. I will run into lots of my friends down there and have that amazing Turkey dinner at the Moab Brewery. Moab is unique, it always reminds me of what Mars might look like.
Life is pretty crazy. You focus your attention toward a certain intent and it seems to come pretty close to that picture you imagined. Sometimes even more than you could imagine. Think of the good things and shift away from the negative thoughts, they will just bring you down in the long run. Find a reason to smile, there is always one somewhere. The Universe is massive and it is your universe to mold into whatever you want. It ain’t always easy but it is always something. I look forward to the experiences ahead and I give gratitude for the experiences in the past that have made me who I am.