Interview with BASE jumper Clair Marie

base

1.Do you still hold the record for the youngest female jumper?

I still hold the record of being the youngest female BASE jumper, although now its fun to meet people who are younger than I am who are active jumpers.

2.Do you know what the age of the youngest male is?

I believe the youngest male did a BASE jump or two at the age of 14 but he wasn’t an active jumper and just jumped a few times. It is very rare to see young people in our sport who are actually active jumpers.

3.Do you think the reason that there are not more BASE jumpers is because of the high risk factor involved or because of the inaccessibility of the sport?

I believe there are many factors as to why there aren’t more jumpers in the sport. It is still fairly new and most people still view it as reckless even though it is becoming a little more mainstream. It takes a special kind of person to be willing to jump off objects and have trust in the gear, their ability and yet have the desire and drive to do it as well. I don’t believe inaccessibility is an issue as I believe if someone truly wants to participate then they will do what ever is necessary to become a jumper. This usually includes lots of skydiving as well as finding a mentor. I believe if it was more accessible the number of fatalities would increase as people wouldn’t have the preparation necessary to participate in the sport safely.

CLAIR

4.Do you compete in BASE competitions or is it just in-house competitions to jump from higher and newer routes?

I think every base jumper has a competitive streak. We all want to be known for something. Although there are a few competitions a year for BASE I don’t participate because they are in an area that doesn’t interest me as much as others.

5.Have you tried wingsuit flying?

I own a wingsuit and do really enjoy flying it, but it isn’t my true passion. I prefer what is called a tracking suit. The way it functions is through inflations similar to a wingsuit but instead of one piece, each limb is free and enclosed in the inflated suit, sort of like an inflatable snow suit. It is much harder to fly and manipulate than a wingsuit because of the freedom of the arms and legs. I feel the skill level required to fly it well is very attractive to me and very challenging as well!

6.Where is the most remote place/country you’ve ever jumped from?

I have jumped in some crazy remote places around the world, but most recently I was jumping in Tonsai, Thailand. Although there is a small village below the cliff with food and bars, there is no direct access to emergency care (In a BASE jumpers mind that is one of the factors when talking about remote locations) The nearest hospital would have been a 20 minute long tail boat ride, a decent carry across a beach and then a 45 minute taxi ride into Krabi. Luckily we do our best to not get hurt!

clair marie 2

7.Who are the other big female names in the sport?

Unfortunately there aren’t many female jumpers who capture the attention of the none jumping world but there are a few. Suz Graham who is a professional skier and is very popular in the world of BASE and then of course Roberto Manchino who is still fairly new to the sport but she made her mark for sure. She brought in sponsors from skydiving as well as gained attention because she is an international model. She is continuing to progress in the sport and do amazing things. Its so nice to see that there are more women in the sport now than there were when I started! It shows that the sport is going in the right direction.

8.How often do you get to jump?

I try to jump as often as I can, weather permitting of course, at this point I get several jumps per month! During the spring-fall I am able to get much more jumps

9.Do you have a local spot?

There are a few local spots which all the jumpers usually meet up at to jump together but most of them  aren’t necessarily legal. Because of that I can’t name them, but there is a cliff about 2hrs away that is spectacular and then Moab Ut which is a popular and legal jumping location is a short 6 hour drive away.

10.Advice for the kids who want to do what you’ve done?

Do as much research as you can, read about it, watch it and start skydiving as soon as you turn 18. I know I started with BASE but I had very rare circumstances which helped me to enter into the sport without skydiving. However learning to skydiving and perfecting your only means that when you do start BASE jumping you will already have a solid understanding about the equipment as well as better skills for landing! I depict a lot of my struggles and successes in my book “Won’t Take No For An Answer” which will be released and available on e-book through my website at the end of this month.

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11.What do you pack for a jumping trip?

It really depends on the trip. Most of the time, in addition to my gear, I pack a helmet, knee/shin guards, medical supply kit that stays in the car or at camp for the most part, parachute packing supplies (steak to hold the gear to the ground, pull up cord to close it and a tarp to pack on). As well as collapsible water bottles, medical tape, sunscreen and gopros :P

12.Any pre-jump rituals?

I don’t have any specific pre-jump rituals, however most men in the sport do and it is a disgusting one. They call it the pre-jump dump haha!

13.Why do you think there is so few women in the sport?

In my experience there aren’t many women who follow an extreme sport path. It is very hard for most women to wrap their mind around what I do and why I do it. There is also a lot of criticism and judgement when women participate in the sport. Luckily that is going down as more are introduced but there is still a common belief that BASE is a man’s sport and women have to be very thick skinned to participate while still maintaining their personality.

14.Have you received criticism been a women and doing this?

In the beginning I received some incredibly harsh criticism especially regarding the way I was introduced to the sport. There was a public online forum that bashed me and my instructor in very harsh and descriptive ways. I had a firm belief that in the beginning people were offended that a 16 year old girl was participating in a sport that made them feel like a bad ass, and because I was an active jumper it showed the sport wasn’t as hard core as they wanted it to seem. I think that ego unfortunately gets in the way of a lot of BASE jumpers personalities and it is really sad.

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15.Why did your first ever jump take place in the middle of the night?

My first jump and many of my jumps after have taken place at night because the objects that we jump aren’t necessarily legal and we could get trespassing charges. Therefore we jump at times where there is a decreased chance of being seen.

16.Do you know how many jumps you have made to date?

I have made around 250 BASE jumps as well as 3,500 skydives. I tried to be diligent about keeping track of my jumps in the beginning but it faded after a while. Those numbers are the last recorded numbers I have in my log books.

17.What are your plans for the rest of the year?

The remainder of this year is filled with trips across the country for BASE and for work. Because I work for myself I have the ability of combining most of my work trips with BASE trips. I plan on going to Moab several times as well as Vegas, Norcal and Socal, as well as attending burning man! Travel is when I feel most at home so I do as much of it as I can!

Follow her journey via her websiteFacebook or YouTube account.


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