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 18, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Where to pay homage to the cutest local celebrities you'll ever stalk.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
For air travelers who like to gripe about being cramped in economy, here comes another warning that they've never had it so good.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Cream cakes from the Ruszwurm bakery in Budapest, Hungary
Proving they're what's really important, the world's best pastry shops have survived survived sieges, revolutions and World War II.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Lois Pryce ignored naysayers and traveled 3,000 miles via motorcycle to discover the real Iran.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
Built at a cost of $442.2 million, Universal Studios Japan hopes its new Potter attraction will bring in $55 billion over 10 years.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
A scene in Marrakech
The gateway to Morocco's Atlas Mountains is becoming a photographer's paradise -- but capturing it on camera isn't easy.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 2136 GMT (0536 HKT)
Cathay Pacific was pronounced the world's best airliner of the year at the industry's leading awards ceremony in Farnborough on Tuesday.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Britain has stolen a march in the space race with plans for the world's first spaceport outside the U.S.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
In the hunt for the world's best amusement park, the people have spoken -- and it seems the people like mixing with creatures who eat a lot of fish.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0611 GMT (1411 HKT)
An Hellenic Seaplanes aircraft
Seaplane network set to open up far-flung destinations to affordable jet-setting tours.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
A man who took a dangerous selfie during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, with the half-ton beasts right behind him, is still on the run -- but this time from the police.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Its cramped rooms and retro lobby are dated, but its charm and devotion to customers are worth preserving.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0553 GMT (1353 HKT)
A young girl sits on a bench decorated with an image of Paddington Bear.
As part of a scheme to encourage reading, 50 benches designed in the style of popular novels or kids' stories have been scattered around London.
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
To all the locals who have been hoarding the following beaches, please forgive us.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Jason Hullinger, a computer security architect in Los Angeles, went to Joshua Tree National Park in December to catch the Geminid meteor shower.
CNN iReporters from across the globe share their incredible images of the skies above us.
ADVERTISEMENT