Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

103 base jumpers leap off Malaysia's KL Tower

By Phillippa Stewart, for CNN
October 1, 2013 -- Updated 0743 GMT (1543 HKT)
Over 100 base jumpers from 20 countries took part in this year's KL Tower International Jump, held in Malaysia from September 27-30. Over 100 base jumpers from 20 countries took part in this year's KL Tower International Jump, held in Malaysia from September 27-30.
HIDE CAPTION
KL Tower International Jump 2013
Long way down
The ultimate adrenalin buzz
Capturing the drop
Experienced jumpers only
'I jump off buildings for fun'
Front row seats
Palms sweating yet?
Not a sport for everyone
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Base jumpers from 20 countries took part in the KL Tower International Jump 2013
  • Jumpers leaped from 300-meter-high platform, have only seconds to release parachutes
  • Paraplegic base jumper from Canada among festival participants

Kuala Lumpur (CNN) -- Launching off a 300-meter-high tower platform with only seconds to pull your rip cord might sound like the act of an insane person.

But that's exactly what 103 base jumpers from 20 countries -- presumably all of sound mind -- did in Malaysia over the weekend.

The jumps were part of the annual KL Tower International Jump 2013, held in Kuala Lumpur from September 27 to 30.

Kat Donahue, 32, a location manager from the United States, was one of six women jumping this year.

Base jumping in Kuala Lumpur

"A lot of people do say I'm crazy but my family is pretty supportive," she said.

"Jumping can be scary, but when you calm your nerves and become quiet it's very peaceful out there, meditative. Base jumping can be solitary but this is such a social event, it's great."

This year's jump also welcomed Sean Chuma from the U.S., a pioneer in tandem base jumps, and Lonnie Bissonnette, a paraplegic base jumper from Canada.

More: 10 things to know before visiting Malaysia

"Lonnie is inspiring for me as there are extra risks involved for him, but he has been jumping for years," said event organizer Gary Cunningham, 42, an electronic engineer from Australia.

"Unfortunately his accident was caused by base jumping, but he highlights how if one avenue closes you focus on what you can do. Lonnie has been able to do some pretty amazing stuff."

Cunningham has been organizing the Kuala Lumpur event since 2005 and has around 2,900 jumps under his belt.

He said if you want to try base jumping, start by skydiving.

"Through skydiving you learn precision falling and how to handle parachutes. You also learn how to deal with things when they go wrong. The potential risk is very real."

World's worst pick-up line?

With risk comes reward -- the ultimate adrenalin buzz.

But you'd be mistaken to assume that saying you're a base jumper works as a pick-up line.

"It doesn't help you pick up women, it helps you lose them actually," said Peter Wyllie, 33, a junior doctor from Australia.

"Women tend to see base jumpers as not a particularly secure future. Who wants to have babies with someone who is committed to tracking down a 4,000 foot wall?"

The point was echoed by David Laffargue, 24, from France.

"Some women say they're scared of the sport, but then I do also spend all my time and money on base jumping!"

'100% of people who drink bottled water die'

Base jumping is dangerous. From 1981 to the present there have been more than 200 fatalities related to the sport.

The base jumping community tries to minimize risks.

In order to leap from the KL Tower, which opened in the Malaysian capital in 1996, jumpers need to have two years of experience and more than 120 jumps under their belt.

More: 10 best islands for a Malaysia holiday

Veteran base jumper Chris "Douggs" McDougall, 37, known for shouting "ready, steady, spaghetti" as he throws himself off the edge, stresses safety.

"It's not about having [guts], it's about arming yourself with knowledge -- risk management is key," he said.

"We accept what we do is dangerous but we want to see everyone walk away safely. One hundred percent of people who drink bottled water die. Life is a risk. If you accept that you will die you get on with living. Base jumpers focus on the positive."

Insane?

"Bonkers," "mad" and "nuts" were adjectives hurled at jumpers by spectators attached to the tower's ledge with safety harnesses, as they looked over the edge and snapped photos.

"We didn't realize the festival was going on," said UK tourist Jessica Pugh, standing on the open deck of the tower watching jumpers leap.

"We were just sat in Nando's and saw someone fall off the tower -- we thought they'd jumped," added her partner, Jordan Lott.

"Thankfully we saw them pull the parachute. That was an experience in itself and then we came up here to see it. It feels better to watch than to do it yourself."

More: How to do Malaysia ... and get it right

CNN Travel's series often carries sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Read the policy.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0459 GMT (1259 HKT)
Of course you don't really need that LV trunk that converts into a deluxe shower, but wouldn't it be cool?
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1843 GMT (0243 HKT)
Get ready to pucker up -- to celebrate National Kissing Day on July 6, travel deals website Travelzoo has released a list of the world's top 10 romantic movie locations.
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
In honor of Canada Day, a look at some of the country's most incredible manmade and natural beauties.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0617 GMT (1417 HKT)
VW ended Kombi production last year, but the spirit of adventure that endowed the vehicles lives on in Uganda.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
CNN wants to know the wonderful, bizarre and indispensable items you pack when getting ready to hit the road. Tell us #howipack
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 2200 GMT (0600 HKT)
This is what happens when you ask a super-car designer to create a super swanky train.
July 6, 2014 -- Updated 2140 GMT (0540 HKT)
A 666-meter-long bridge shaped like a fire-breathing dragon heralds a new era of prosperity in Da Nang, Vietnam.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
There's a chance of being trampled or even gored, but thousands flock annually to the Spanish fiesta immortalized by Ernest Hemingway
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 0854 GMT (1654 HKT)
Alcazar castle in Spain will stand in for Water Gardens of Dorne in the popular HBO series.
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 1638 GMT (0038 HKT)
Before you join the masses in the hopes of snapping a geisha on her way to work, it's worth learning a few unwritten rules.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 0808 GMT (1608 HKT)
Baptiste Dubanchet poses with food he's recovered from a trash can.
To highlight food waste, Frenchman travels across Europe fueled only by food recovered from trash cans.
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 0731 GMT (1531 HKT)
Tour companies are cashing in on demand from timid thrill seekers who want to safely experience Bangkok's infamously raunchy nightlife.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1657 GMT (0057 HKT)
Dreading airport security, lost luggage or that middle seat? These travel headaches could be a thing of the past by 2024, according to a new report on the future of travel.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
Latest model of aircraft affectionately known as the Queen of the Skies gets the red ribbon treatment, but jumbo jets are facing tough times
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
A former soldier plans to trek every country in the world, having been diagnosed with PTSD.
ADVERTISEMENT