BASE Jumping revisited

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Jerry Dodrill

climber
Bodega, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 21, 2006 - 07:55pm PT
MZiebell, Was it necessary to nuke the conversation just when it was getting interesting? I think Ouch! was just working up a real masterpiece.

The original post:

Yosemite National Park (CA)
BASE Jumpers Apprehended

Ranger Keith Lober was descending from El Capitan while off-duty on December 3rd when he came upon two men who were ascending fixed ropes on the rappel route. While waiting at an anchor with the first man, it became apparent to Lober that the second man was not a climber due to his attire and lack of climbing skill. Suspecting that they were BASE jumpers, Lober engaged them in conversation. The men asked Lober if he was a ranger; when he assured them that he wasn’t, they told him that they were going to BASE jump from El Cap that night. Later in the evening, they jumped from El Capitan by the light of the full moon. Lober and other rangers were waiting for them when they landed. Fernando Motta, 29, of Oakland, California, landed in the meadow, stashed his gear, and evaded the rangers in the dark, but Walden Grindle, 28, of Angwin, California, was arrested as he landed. Motta turned himself in two hours later in an effort to retrieve his vehicle and BASE jumping gear, all of which had been seized as evidence. Both were charged with illegal air delivery, and Motta was also charged with possession of marijuana. Evidence seized by the rangers included video from Motta’s helmet camera. [Submitted by Leslie Reynolds, Valley District Ranger]

The dialog:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=296839&msg=297434#msg297434

ground_up

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
Dec 21, 2006 - 09:19pm PT
If it helps to lure in a creation from Ouch I'm in.

All of us probably had a situation in our youth where a cop let us slide.... I did. So , my point is... If it woulda been me..I'd of said something like
" That is awesome you fellers want to jump off El Cap , must be a rush, however , we got us a little problem....ya see ...well...I'm a Ranger, and unfortunately it's illegal to do that...and frankly I don't agree , cuz I'm an F'n climber and I think you guys oughta be able to.. But it's my job. I understand y'all wanting to do your jump and if ya must, ya must...but I can't guarantee you won't get arrested upon landing...the park service takes that stuff real serious like...so..do what you gotta do, I respect ya either way...oh yeh , if ya decide to head on down...I'll buy ya beer.

LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
Dec 21, 2006 - 09:22pm PT
yeah I liked that thread too.. what's the worry?
nature

climber
Flagstaff, AZ
Dec 21, 2006 - 10:15pm PT
So if true, how is it that a LEO can lie about being an LEO. City cops, if asked, must disclose they are LEO's otherwise it's entrapment. Or did shrub change the rules?
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 22, 2006 - 12:33am PT
Rule number 1: Never brag about something you have not yet done.
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Dec 22, 2006 - 12:38am PT
hahaha, I like Rule Number 1 deuce....
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:03am PT
Rule number 1: Never brag about something you have not yet done.


When climbers do that, it tends to bite them in the ass, as we've been fortunate enough to behold.

BTW, I feel that nuking the thread (and a whole bunch of other people's posts) was exceedingly lame.
MZiebell

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:14am PT
Jerry (and others who posted)

I nuked to post because I could see where it was going... :
LOBER BASH!

Since I consider Keith a friend I just wasn't interested in having my name associated with the usual slander and silliness that is so often the mark of those exchanges.

I agree, though, the discussion of BASE activities in NPS areas is worth having, although aren't there alternative forums for that?

Martin
Blinny

Trad climber
NorthWestMontana
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:14am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=296839&msg=297463#msg297463

there's most of it

eKat
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:16am PT

I nuked to post because I could see where it was going... :
LOBER BASH!


Really? I didn't see that at all (and I've read all the Lober threads).
MZiebell

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:22am PT
HK,

You might be right. But I just wasn't interested in being a part of it.

So, can anyone outline the NPS position (rationel) on BASE jumping?

M

Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:32am PT
It's one thing to delete your own posts. But summarily deleting dozens of other's
in a fell swoop really rubs me the wrong way. This is the only forum I've ever seen
(and I've seen a fuçk of a lot) where this is possible. I consider it to be a forum-bug
rather than a feature. Just my (knott-so) humble opinion, FWIW. Carry on...
Burns

Trad climber
Arlington, VA
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:33am PT
Martin-

As a participant in the last thread, I want to clarify that I was in no way trying to start a Lober bashing party, or even a ranger bashing party. My dad was a ranger, and it upsets me when rangers get torn up on this website, because the truth is always somewhere in between and 99% of the time those guys are trying to do a very difficult job as well as they can (there are always a few bad apples). I have often defended the NPS on this site. I was intentionally very careful to speak in general terms, referring to the situation rather than the person, using LEO rather than descending into useless and adolescent phrases like 'that d-bag Lober' which would only serve to invalidate me. My impression of the other posts is that the other posters had the same aim, to have a useful discussion rather than to bash one man (there are always a few bad apples). I think this is a worthy discussion, as I think it goes to the roots of the purposes of law enforcement and the relationships that rangers have with the visiting public, whether they be climbers, jumpers, or fat foreign tourons who's most strenuous activity is stepping up onto the Green Dragon. Honestly, I hope Mr. Lober reads this and has a chance to see the way his actions are interpreted by the public. Also, I thought nuking the last thread was really lame mostly because I was in the midst of writing the 28th post, which was absolutely brilliant, but now the world is a poorer place as the thread was nuked before it got posted and now it is gone forever. So sad.
MZiebell

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:36am PT
Sorry about your post Burns. But this one looks pretty good...

So, Can you outline the NPS position on Base Jumping?

Burns

Trad climber
Arlington, VA
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:46am PT
Martin-

I'm just joking with you. I don't know that anything I've ever had to say would qualify as brilliant.

As far as the NPS position on BASE jumping, I don't know for sure, but I might be able to do a little research. If I find anything official I'll certainly post it. I think part of my post that never saw the light of day went something like this, which questioned the policy itself:

In this particular situation there are two intertwined issues, one of which must be wrong. Either the law against base jumping exists for a valid reason (that reason is that it causes or has the potential to cause some real harm to people or park resources) and therefore the LEO is morally obligated to prevent the crime, or the LEO has no obligation to prevent the crime because no real harm could be expected to result, in which case the law itself is invalid.

Thanks for rejoining the discussion and steering it in the right direction.
deuce4

Big Wall climber
the Southwest
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:49am PT
It would be interesting to estimate the statistics, of how many people have jumped in Yosemite verses the number of accidents.

Though I always dreamed of jumping El Cap one day, once I saw the remains of a woman who had hit her head on the way down--on El Cap Tower, I believe--(during a rescue--Werner, remember that one?), I lost some of my enthusiasm for it. Soon after, my good friend Xaver died on a base jump, and that was it for me: parachute for sale, cheap.

With hanggliding, people generally don't explode into pieces when something bad happens. That might have something to do with the NPS's overall perception while managing the parkland. They've seen it, and they've got to clean it up. Not that I condone their rigid policy on the sport.
MZiebell

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
Dec 22, 2006 - 11:59am PT
Well, I don't know where the policy came from. But I do recall in an NPS naturalist training sess I went through that part of what steers policy in the parks is that any proposed activity (that is novel) be evaluated as to whether it augments or distracts from the visitors meaningful interaction with "the resource".

Base jumping would probably fall into the "distractor" class.

So might climbing, but as a so-called "traditional use" it is generally accepted.

I think that's how that goes...

Any NPS NATS out there want to chime in?

Martin
Appliance

Social climber
Yosemite
Dec 22, 2006 - 01:25pm PT
Management Policies 2006

The Guide to Managing the National Park System

8.2.2.7 Parachuting

Parachuting (or BASE jumping), whether from an aircraft, structure, or natural feature, is generally prohibited by 36 CFR 2.17(a)(3). However, if determined through a park planning process to be an appropriate activity, it may be allowed pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit.

From the Wilderness act of 1964

PROHIBITION OF CERTAIN USES

(c) Except as specifically provided for in this chapter, and subject to existing private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and, except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.

My understanding:

By regulation in USFS and BLM areas parachutes are defined as mechanical transport. In NPS areas that defination is not regulation, but is understood to be the same.

All BASE historical Yosemite BASE launch sites except Glacier Point are in designated wilderness. The floor of Yosemite Valley is not.

Under NPS regulation 36 CFR §2.17 Aircraft and air delivery.
(a) The following are prohibited:

(1) Operating or using aircraft on lands or waters other than at locations designated pursuant to special regulations.

(2) ...

(3) Delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit.

36 CFR §1.4 What terms do I need to know?
(a)...
Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for human flight in the air, including powerless flight.
Klimmer

Mountain climber
San Diego
Dec 22, 2006 - 02:28pm PT
It sure seems by national regulations there is wiggle room.

Ok, so Glacier Point is not in designated wilderness, along with the valley floor so that is why the HG pilots have been able to cooperatively work out a system that allows them to fly. I'm all in favor of it, and would not want to jeopordize what the "hangies" have so brilliantly been able to work out. It proves that cooperation between our national free-flight organization USHPA and the NPS can and does work.

So it seems to me it should also allow paragliders to do this, without any change in the spirit of the law. The launch that is used is a shallow launch, and only one tree would really need to be removed to safely allow paraglider pilots. Flying Yosemite in a Hang Glider is one of the most regulated flying sites in the nation. They only allow early morning "sled rides" no thermal flights, or we would be up all day. From what I know, Hang Glider pilots are on a waiting list to fly Yosemite. The same could easily be done for paraglider pilots.

BASE jumpers could if they get nationally organized (maybe they are, I don't know?), approach the NPS and say, hey let's work together, let's put past sins behind us and let's work out a system that will allow BASE jumpers on a very early morning regulated basis, along with a waiting list, lawfully jump off the big block "diving board" at Glacier Point. BASE jumpers would have to agree to this and stop bandito illegal jumps off "El Cap" or no agreement, no jumps.

It would be a hard choice to make for many BASE jumpers for sure. The real prize is jumping off El Cap.

But there is no reason why the NPS should exclude paragliders from flying Yosemite. We are in the same organization the United States Hang Gliding & PARAGLIDING Association (USHPA).

Damn it! I demand my right to fly my paraglider off Glacier Point just as the hangies do. I will wait. Put my name on a list, whatever. In no way should this jeopardize the hangies from continueing to fly. I don't want to hear this bullshit arguement from HG pilots or the NPS.

And the NPS shouldn't hang that arguement over any other user group. "Well, if everyone asks to fly or jump, then we are just going to shut it down for everyone." That is a base-less, chicken-sh#t, threatening and un-intelligent arguement.

By the way, if I were fortunate enough to fly from a thermal site just West of Yosemite National Park and thermal over the entire park, never landing within park boundaries and then landed in Lee Vining they couldn't do squat about it. They, wouldn't even know I was there. Ok, doing that is a dream and another story. But, it is possible and legal.



Jerry Dodrill

climber
Bodega, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 22, 2006 - 02:33pm PT
Is there a flight ceiling for aircraft over the park?
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