“Hey buddy,” says Sam Hardy, his voice coming down the line from Chamonix. “Could you give me like 20 minutes? I’ve literally just packed and I need to drive home, is that cool?”
It’s not yet 10am here in the UK, but Sam has just completed his second wingsuit BASE jump of the morning. That is to say he’s jumped off the 2,525-metre-high Brevent ridge and screamed down through terrifyingly tight gaps in the rock at speeds of around 200km/h – deliberately flying as close to the terrain as he can – with nothing more to protect him than a flimsy-looking crash helmet. Not once, but twice. In that same time, I’ve logged into my computer and answered a few emails.
To most outside observers, wingsuit BASE jumping probably seems like a ludicrous thing to do. The thrill is obvious: These guys are literally flying like superheros, their suits reminiscent of Batman’s cape. But at the same time, the sport is highly dangerous: They’re putting their lives on the line with every line they fly. And so many of the millions of people who watch viral wingsuit videos assume the individuals involved must be nuts. Or at least that they must care less about their own safety than their next adrenaline hit.