About us Our History.
The year was 1992. At the time, Stein Edvardsen had only about 2-3 base jumps. In a shop in Stavanger, he saw a picture of the Kjerag cliff on a post card and asked the lady in the shop about it. Days later, he traveled to the area and hiked around, trying to determine if it was jumpable. Despite the height of the cliff, being an inexperienced jumper, he wasn’t sure about jumping the site. Stein had only jumped some construction cranes and an antenna, 45-100 meters, so the level of confidence wasn’t enough to make him try this cliff. After two years of thinking and researching the site on the computer, he finally went up there with a group of friends and did his first jump.
First jump: October 1994.
So jumpable it was. This happened in October and winter was closing in so they weren’t able to do more jumps during that season. But the jump got people talking, especially in Sweden. Stein also went to Bridge Day the weekend after that very first Kjerag jump. There he met John Vincent and Todd Shoebotham (who showed Stein how to pack). Stein asked the guys what they were jumping. John had been jumping in Chamonix, France, and was taking about 9 second delays. The guys listened in astonishment when Stein shared with them that he just had an 18 second delay in his back yard.
The next year, nearly 400 jumps were made at Kjerag, opening up all of the exit sites, 1-7. Many Swedes arrived to jump, as did Randy Harrison, Rick’s brother. The word was out about this awesome site, and more and more basejumpers were showing up to enjoy Kjerag. At this time basejumping was not accepted by the Norwegian Skydiving Association and any word of jumping from a fixed object could get a jumper grounded from skydiving. And this would happen not only to jumpers but to those helping out as ground crew or boat drivers. It was like a Brad Pitt movie. 1st rule: You do not talk about basejumping. 2nd rule: You DO NOT talk about basejumping.
Stein, however, wanted to jump cliffs more than he wanted to skydive, so he made the choice to step out of the Norwegian Skydiving Association to follow his heart. This instigated many phone calls, from jumpers and from the media. During the summer season of 1995, Thor Alex and Stein decided to start NBA, the Norwegian Base Association. In February 1996 it was formed to give other jumpers a point of contact when wanting to come and jump Kjerag. Stein was carrying the public phone that first year, taking phone calls almost every day from interested parties.
The guys were new at this, and had much to learn, but they soon realized they needed some kind of organization to help skydivers to take the step and become basejumpers. In 1996, under the NBA, they began planning a course to assist. Knowing that other jumpers would begin forming clubs, they maintained the NBA as an umbrella organization. Also, the Association served as a more formal way to interact with authorities and media. Any agencies that had questions or concerns could contact the Association, which gave a sense of professionalism to the sport.
First base course: 1996.
In 1996 the Norwegian Base Association began to offer a base course at Lysebotn. In that same year people also started to jump in Romsdal. Unfortunately, Kjerag had it’s first fatal accident that year. The police came to have a word with the NBA, asking questions about if there were procedures in place to prevent this type of thing from happening again. They quickly saw the need for developing rules and guidelines for the jumpers that were coming. At that time, basejumping could have been banned, but the police were monitoring the development. In retrospect, we can see how progressive of an attitude this was for the time. Needless to say, it was a very lucky break for basejumping in Norway.
In 1997, there was a second fatality, and the chief of police wanted to close down the cliffs for jumping. The NBA had seen this coming, so they had been contacting rescue teams. The Chief of Police needed facts on the table in order to close the jumping down. Such fact would include the rescue teams testifying that it would be too dangerous to attempt rescues, and also that the activities would most likely result in new rescue operations. Because these two points could not be proven, the Chief of Police was not able to shut down the mountain for jumping.
The NBA continued to refine the guidelines and rules for jumping. In 1999 the sport had grown so much and was so well organized it would take a lot of work for the authorities to say stop. The Forsand community was interested in keeping the jumping going, as the media attention was beneficial for tourism and economic growth. Jumping didn’t just bring more jumpers to the area, but also tourists that wanted to watch this exciting and activity. Additional support came from the campground, which was enjoying the benefits of the increasing number of jumpers to the area. In this summer 2850 jumps were made at Kjerag, with two deaths.
The opening of Smellveggen: 2000.
In 2000, there were many people jumping in the area, including the new addition of jumping Smellveggen. From this cliff that you may jump and fly your parachute back to the campground. In this year the first helicopter boogie was hosted. That event experienced one fatality, and there was a second one later the same season. Four fatalities in two seasons again caught the attention from the police and the media, and one more time jumping was threatened at Kjerag. The parties involved met several times, discussing what to do to save the site. Between 1999 and 2000 the jumping experience level had been allowed to drop to 100 jumps, so canopy skills were less than adequate for the area. After discussing this, the NBA decided to again increase the required experience level for jumpers. Also, the NBA was a national association and there was no local club to be responsible for the area. Stein and other jumpers then decided to form a more local entity. All the jumpers that could be contacted were called in for a meeting, and they started the Stavanger Base Klubb in December of 2000. Jumping had decreased from nearly 3000 jumps in 1999 to around 2000 the following year, probably due to increased awareness of the risks.
The number of jumps required to qualify to jump at Kjerag was increased to 250. Thanks to the inception of the SBK, jumping became organized and an instructor was brought in. In 2001 there were only seven minor accidents and no fatalities. It appeared that the efforts were paying off. This was a good year for base at Kjerag, with about 1600 jumps made. The number of jumps was down, but some of this was due to bad weather, and the rest due to the rules that disqualified many inexperienced jumpers from participating. Again, these procedures did pay off for base in the long run, as the jumping was more successful in the public eye.
Year of the Pendulator; 2002.
No dramatic changes were made in 2002 so things continued as they had in 2001 with the same instructor and the same rules, with increased jump numbers. This year there were the same number of minor accidents, but this year there were another 2 fatalities, with the first wingsuit fatality occurring. The other fatality was an exit position problem, which brought to the fore the necessity for some type of exit practice. Ronny Risvik came up with an idea using a harness, ropes, and tall trees to create a “Pendulator”, which allowed students to practice their exits before trying it off a cliff. The use of the Pendulator dramatically increased the ability of the newer jumpers to exit properly. In addition to this, any new jumpers to the area must take the SBK Course before they were allowed to jump at Kjerag, even if they were attending another jump course. This was because 3 deaths had occurred due to bad exit and body position up to this point, so the SBK had to step in and take responsibility for the training of new jumpers to Kjerag. A jumper must have 250 skydives to participate in jumping at Kjerag, and if they have less than 15 basejumps, they are required to take the SBK Refresher Course.
After the increase of more stringent rules, a marked decrease in all accidents was observed. Even such incidents as twisted ankles decreased. By the end of the 2003 season it was obvious that the rules, requirements, and training was paying off, with 2050 jumps and only 5 minor accidents, with no fatalities. This was a very successful season at Kjerag, with only one helicopter rescue required. In hopes of maintaining this safety trend, the rules again was strictly enforced for the 2004 season.
Since the inception of the Stavanger Base Klubb, much work has been done to improve the site for jumping, particularly in the landing areas. Boulders have been cleared from both the main landing area and a small area below Smellveggen, and along the shoreline below exit #7. Another improvement made to the area is a bridge over a crevasse that has been quite an obstacle on the hike to #7. To meet the requests for rental gear, the SBK purchased rigs from Basic Research that has been available from the 2004 season. The Stavanger Base Klubb Store in Lysebotn has since then been carrying rental gear, plus accessories for purchase.
Kjerag is one of the most beautiful and exciting places to jump in the world. Due to the efforts of the Stavanger Base Klubb, the jumping has become much safer, and has made Kjerag probably the biggest base drop zone in the world. SBK has taken over more of the facilities at Lysebotn, making the campground even more jumper friendly. We invite you to come out and enjoy the peace, beauty, and excitement of Kjerag and fall in love with jumping from the cliffs, as we have. As always, be safe, have fun, and soft landings!