Cliff jumping or cliff diving, as the name suggests, is the kind of sport in which a person jumps off a cliff and into the water. As in most extreme sports, the moto “ever tried, ever failed, fail again, fail better” is not applicable. You can call this sport many things, but safe is not one of them.
Cliff jumping spot in Cape Greco, Ayia Napa – Cyprus
Cliff jumping physics 101:
Jumping off from just 20 feet/6 meters high, you are hitting the water with a speed of 25mph/40kph. This speed is enough to cause spinal compression, broken bones or a concussion – that is if you enter the water straight/vertically and feet-first. Any disalignment from the vertical axis, let’s say horizontally or “pancake” style, and you’ll be hitting the water with such force, it’ll make it feel as concrete. Jumping off from about half this distance, 10 feet/3 meters, the landing speed reduces about to 17mph/27kph. A car hits a wall at this speed and both get damaged. Imagine a human… That is why, the World High Diving Federation has set the limit to 65.5 feet/20 meters, unless professional rescue divers are set below.
Professional cliff show divers, dive from heights well above this limit though. We are talking about crazy high heights. The show divers at La Quebrada, in Acapulco-Mexico, dive from 148 feet/45 meters above the water. Specific professional training for years and their familiarity with the cliff and underwater area is what saves them in every jump from severe bruising, spinal and other joint dislocations, breaking bones, compressed or injured discs, not to mention paralysis and death. Familiarity with the landing water area is crucial, as waves can alter the water depth and interfere with the dive’s entry point into the water, as well as shorten or lengthen the dive depending on whether the diver hits the wave at its peak or not. These professionals are trained to modify their jumps as per wave and water conditions. In a sport so extreme though, even training and familiarity with the area are not enough to prevent injuries.
Show divers jumping off La Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico – www.elviajero.elpais.com
Imagine now, if someone were to jump off 192.9 feet/58.8 meters… Just for a visual reference, the famous tower of Pisa in Italy is 186 feet/56.7 meters.
Laso Schaller, a Brazilian born, 27-year old, Swiss raised, canyon guide – he has a great number of first decents with his name first on – decided to take the fast way down off the Cascada del Salto – the King of the 150 decendable canyons – in the Italian speaking area of Ticino, in Switzerland. The, also, high-diver athlete took a leap off a specifically builded platform at the top of the cliff and landed succesfully, setting a new World Record in the meantime.
The dive was scheduled for August 4, Tuesday, around mid-afternoon and it was of course very thoroughly planned. So the exit point, as the landing area were carefully studied and cleared in advance, eliminating every posibility of outsource interference to the dive. The days preceding the dive were sunny, promising a dive as planned. But the weather had other plans, as the afternoon approached, so did a storm. Thunder in the background and clouds blocking the sun, had the filming crews running to cover their thousands’ of dollars worth of gear. The crowd that had gathered to witness the brave Latino-Swiss athlete, already begun to leave. It was then, that Schaller walked up the trail towards the top, took a brief look over the platform and jumped.