Jul
26

Chamonix bans wingsuit flying
Thursday July 26, 2012 - Email this article to a friend

The French resort has banned the sport after a Norwegian died this week. He is the latest casualty this summer as people hurl themselves from great heights wearing a wingsuit and then release a parachute to land. We have videos of the adrenalin junkies.

In the latest accident a 40-year old man leapt from the summit at the Brevent lift station at 2,500m and plunged to his death.

It appeared his parachute did not open correctly.

Later the same day a South African man was seriously injured at the same spot.

There have been four accidents in Chamonix in this week alone.

There are few rules and regulations surrounding the sport and it is thought people with little experience are putting themselves in too much danger in the never-ending quest for action sport and adrenalin rushes.

All four accidents happened to very experienced people and now the resort has banned people from using wingsuits at the top of the Brévent and Aiguille du Midi lift stations.

For more information about the accidents and the subsequent ban see this story from our good friend, Trey Cook, over at EpicTV.

Brevant, Photo c/o EpicTVBrevent, Photo c/o EpicTV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what is the thrill of wingsuit flying?

 

Valery Rozov is featured below in his wingsuit jumping off des Petits Drus in the Mont Blanc region last July. 

He wears two cameras on his helmet showing different perspectives of his flight.

Scary yet exhilirating.

And here's Géraldine Fasnacht in a recent jump in the same region of Mont Blanc as the video of Valery Rozov above.

It is though highly dangerous.

Earlier this summer a man from New Zealand died in Switzerland. 

Alan McCandlish, 31, was very experienced but died while jumping in the Bernese Oberland.

He fell from a cliff edge while preparing for the jump.

So, what exactly is wingsuit flying?

Most start with a BASE jump where the people leap from fixed objects.

BASE stands for the four types of objects they jump from: buildings, antennae, spans (bridges) and earth (mountains).

Wearing a wingsuits allows the jumpers to travel horizontally as they fall.

This week's ban in Chamonix has caused some debate in the European home of adventure sports.

However the Mayor of the town, in conjunction with safety officials, has decided it is simply too dangerous and has banned it from the various known jumping spots above the town.

The authorities believe enough is enough.

Chamonix has already been in the headlines for the wrong reasons this summer when 9 climbers, including three British men, died when they were swept away by an avalanche when trying to climb Mont Blanc.

We reported on it at the time on PlanetSKI.

BASE jumping itself is very dangerous and wearing a wingsuit adds another dimension.

A study complied a decade ago showed that the death rate for BASE jumpers was 1 in every 60 people who do the sport. There are more injuries too. 1 in every 2,317 jumps ends in a fatality and when compared to other recreational activities it has the highest odds of death. 

It is therefore statistically the most dangerous recreational activity according to the figures form the survey in 2002.

Latest figures are not available.

Wingsuit flying is the latest adrenalin fuelled extreme sport.

In the winter people do similar things where they ski from cliffs as well as simply jumping from them.

Last winter a man skied off the north face of the Matterhorn and had a narrow escape as his ski came off just before he was going to launch himself into the void.

He hit a rock hidden by the snow.

Matthias Giraud claims to be the first person to ski base ride from the summit of the Matterhorn.

We reported on it at the time here on PlanetSKI and see a video of the incident below.

Wingsuit flying has grown sharply in popularity and though it has been banned from the known spots in Chamonix the enthusiasts and likely to simply go elsewhere.

For further information about wingsuit flying see the sport's entry in Wikipedia.

For the spirit of the mountains

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