Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Base-jumping, for and against

I've just heard that another base-jumper was killed this morning to the south of Grenoble, but I don't know yet whether it was at or near Choranche. At the end of last year, there was a mortal base-jumping accident at Choranche. The ensuing discussions, for and against base-jumping at Choranche, starred my friends Georges Pontvianne, of the Jorjane hotel-restaurant, and Bernard Bourne, dairy farmer and mayor of Choranche. They can be seen, in French (with good views of our cliffs), here and here.

Within our tiny village, it's a conflict of two cultures. There are only about 250 daredevils in France who practice this extreme sport (whose statistics indicate that it is only moderately dangerous), but our cliffs in Choranche (just above the Rochemuse floral park of Tineke and Serge) happen to be a world-famous address for base-jumping. Ever since settling down in Choranche, I've become accustomed to the idea that base-jumping is a permanent element of our local outdoor culture... but I must admit that I've never been tempted to get involved in this activity at a practical level. I love to look up at cliffs, and take photos. Before arriving in Choranche, however, I never imagined for an instant that there might be individuals who got a kick out of jumping off cliffs.

BREAKING NEWS: No, yesterday morning's accident occurred in the Obiou range, 70 km to the south of Grenoble, at an altitude of 2,400 metres. For reasons that remain unknown, a base-jumper failed to open his parachute. For the moment, apparently, weather conditions have prevented searchers from reaching the scene of the accident.

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