BASE jumpers defend sport after accident on Camelback Mountain

Base jumpers defend right to 'fly'

PHOENIX - Professional BASE jumper Scotty Bob has clocked well over 1,000 base jumps in his career.

One of his favorite spots to do a quick jump, due to its accessibility and scenery, is right here in the Valley.

“In BASE jumping, it’s a great jump,” he said when asked about the lure of Camelback Mountain at Echo Canyon Park in Phoenix.

RELATED: BASE jumper rescued after failed landing on Camelback

“It’s quite over-hung and is close to around 300 feet,” he said,” I’ve had close to 100 jumps off Camelback Mountain and no injuries.”

But as many in the world of extreme sports know, injuries and fatalities do happen.

Tuesday, Phoenix firefighters rescued Scotty Bob's friend and local BASE jumper Landon Dirnberger after he jumped off the cliff with his parachute but crashed into the wall and then fell to the ground.

“When people think that it's just some idiot that decided to buy a parachute and jump off, it's not like that,” Scotty Bob told 12 News. “Most of us are extremely experienced parachuters and we've been jumping for years.”

12 News got the chance to see Dirnberger in action when we followed him a few other BASE jumpers along to a jump off Camelback Mountain back in 2015.

In the video from that day, Dirnberger told our camera crew, "I'm alive and uninjured so that was a success.”

This time, Scotty Bob says Dirnberger broke his heels but is expected to be OK.

Still, the accident once again ignited the online debate over whether the extreme sport should be banned from the park.

While state lawmakers have tried in the past, citing safety and liability issues, so far nothing has passed.

“People online want to complain about ‘these guys’ (BASE jumpers) should be banned and prosecuted,” he said, “Then you should probably go up to Flagstaff and ban skiing.”

While there's no denying BASE jumping can be an extremely dangerous sport, Scotty Bob feels it's developed an unfair stigma.

“It's BASE jumping and it’s like ‘oh my God, it's so terrifying and extreme,’" Scotty Bob said. "No, it's just like any other sport where people get injured.”

While some people might think Camelback is too short of a cliff to jump, Scotty Bob says in BASE jumping it’s called a "go and throw."

That’s when you throw your parachute immediately or within a second of jumping in order to coast down.

Scotty Bob said the difficulty of the manuever is just intermediate, but things can go wrong.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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