Gravitational Pull |

Gravitational Pull

Photos and words by Court LeveA parachute, skis and a 400-drop. What would Shane McConkey do? “Shane, what are you going to do?” I asked. “A triple,” he answered.

I think I responded, “OK” out loud, as I precariously anchored myself onto a small outcropping above the launch pad for a good camera angle. A triple backflip during a BASE jump. I can’t even think of doing a single backflip on a trampoline and he’s going to do a triple, on skis, off a 400-foot drop with variable winds. I found myself looking back at Shane waiting for him to tell me he’s kidding. The next thing I heard from Shane’s mouth was “dropping in 10…” He sounded like a quarterback calling in a play.

Seconds later he hucked the jump …”God, I hope I don’t miss it,” kept running through my mind as my finger stayed on the shutter.Now, my camera shoots eight frames a second. About 27 frames later it was over. You do the math.Shane, J.T. Holmes and three other “FNGs” (skier speak for novices) were there to BASE jump. They told me a triple back flip had never been done before during a 400-foot drop.

Before McKonkey’s jump, the previous hour was spent packing snow down with skis and shovels by Shane, J.T. Holmes and three other jumpers. Except for J.T. and Shane the three others had never bagged this jump before. In fact, there was one guy who had only B.A.S.E. jumped once before. Despite having more than 100 skydiving jumps under their belts, there was an air of nervous anticipation that hung over all the new guys. The situation reminded me of not wanting to be the first kid off the BMX jump. You really want to go but you also really would like to see someone else go first. I can only guess that this was one of many thoughts running through the new guys’ heads.