Roof tops, night skies, ski-lifts and more.
JUMPING FROM buildings is trending. Social media buzzes with eagle-eye panoramas shot from masts and towers around the world. Magical sunsets snapped from fresh viewpoints draw legions of Likes and Shares, especially when the sightseeing ends in the shared adrenaline-surge of a plummet from the heights – rooftopping as it’s known, the urban extension to BASE jumping. The substantial coverage reaches traditional media when city explorers’ trespassing leads to arrests or else, tragic falls to the death. That in turn has caught the imagination of brands, eager to latch onto any trend that grabs the attention of fickle millenials. Nike apparel appears in a number of 24-year-old Russian model Angela Nikolau’s audacious poses (right), along with signature high heels and summer skirts. Dangling high from skyscrapers, her antics have bagged her 468,000 Instagram followers. A Chinese travel company even paid her and another rooftopper to snap themselves atop the country’s most vertiginous structures. Mainstream media has labelled the fad as a pastime of attention-seeking, reckless teens, but professional skydiver and BASE jumper, Jeb Corliss (shown below), prefers to call it a journey of self-discovery. He says rooftopping deserves more recognition. “Rooftopping is what BASE jumpers need to do in order to gain access to launch locations in urban environments. I would say rooftopping could be considered a component of one classification of the larger BASE jumping discipline,” he said. “[Social media] has given people a way to share their experiences with the world in a way that just didn’t exist 20 years ago. Now the average person from anywhere in the world can go out and experience amazing things…it shows people a different perspective of the world and environment they inhabit.” Most traditional BASE jumpers focus on a connection with the outdoors, respecting the natural world and its role in their exploration of the boundaries of human potential. Arguably, these are values that today’s urban expression of BASE also holds dear, as rooftoppers say they adhere to an unspoken motto of “take only photos, leave only footprints”. Psychologically, Corliss believes rooftoopers and BASE jumpers share goals, ones that have nothing to do with a few snatched seconds of fame: “That’s a very small view from a person that doesn’t understand why a person would want to do something like this. There is almost always a much bigger purpose behind the action even if the person doing it is not 100% aware of it…i think the people doing these things are asking themselves [questions] in a physical way. In these activities, they are trying to find themselves even if they don’t realise that’s what they’re doing.”