Last weekend's Go Fast Games at the Royal Gorge were designed to give 35 BASE skydivers the chance to fly through the air over the world's highest suspension bridge and the river rapids 1,053 feet below.
But the games at the Royal Gorge Bridge were marred by the death on Sunday of Dwain Weston, 30, one of the best BASE jumpers in the world. Weston, who was traveling at an estimated 100 mph, apparently miscalculated his distance from the bridge, hit it, and fell to the rocks below.
Two days before Weston's fatal jump, 24-year-old Chad Henderson (pictured a right) described the rush of BASE jumping. BASE is an acronym for Building, Antennae, Span (bridges), Earth (cliffs), and represents the fixed-objects from which BASE jumps are made.
"BASE jumping is definitely a bigger rush than jumping from a plane," Henderson said. "Because you are so low, you only have one parachute and you only have so much time. It's probably seven or eight seconds to impact, maybe less, and on this jump, I don't plan on going deeper than five."
Henderson, of Black Forest, started skydiving at 18. With more than 1,500 skydives, Henderson began BASE jumping three years ago and has logged more than 240 jumps.
"When you first jump off, you get that roller coaster feeling. You know, when it goes down, where your stomach is in your throat," he said. "The earth is just sucking you up."
This week, the small and stunned community of BASE jumpers from across the globe mourned the loss of Weston.
--story by Kenneth Wajda and Cara DeGette
photo by Kenneth Wajda