Take the plunge

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By Cliff jumping is the latest fad, reports Shibani Chattopadhyay JUMP TO IT - How-to handbook
  • Published 30.09.06

Cliff jumping and fun? You bet. Much as you shake your head at the unnerving thought, you can’t shake the sport away. It’s the latest in the adventure sport bandwagon to have caught the fancy of young India. Corporate wizkids and adventure enthusiasts are making a beeline for tour operators offering this extreme sport, cementing its status as the latest fad.

“Cliff jumping,” says Pranav Kukreti, avid cliff jumper and director, marketing, Treks ’N’ Rapids Private Limited, Delhi (a company which offers cliff jumping), “is the mellower cousin of base jumping. Here an adventurer jumps from a 30 to 40 feet high cliff (rock or bridge) into a waterbody (river/ stream/ lake/sea).” The only difference between base jumping and cliff jumping is that base jumping requires proper training, is more technical in nature and requires combined skills in aero sports.

Cliff jumping, however, is more popular in the West and is now slowly catching on in India. Initially it was looked upon as an ‘add-on’ sport and was combined with the white water rafting packages. But having emerged out of the shadows of rafting today, it has come into its own. The main attraction of cliff jumping is perhaps the buzz you feel once you have completed your first jump.

Nimish Pant, business change consultant at Tata Consultancy Services, Delhi, recalls, “The first time, the cliff looked as though it was mocking us, daring us to climb and take the plunge. The reluctance of the others present added to the challenge. I guess it was a temptation I couldn’t resist.” That’s probably when the seeds of his affair with the cliff were sowed.

For Aakash Mehra, a systems analyst at Newgen Software Technologies Limited, Bangalore, it was a different experience. “I went on a rafting trip and felt somewhat dissatisfied. So I decided to try cliff jumping and it left me asking for more,” he chuckles.

In fact, cliff jumping works as icing on the rafting cake. The adrenaline rush is tremendous and you can hear your heart pounding. But once you take the plunge, operators promise you’ll come back for more. “After having surfed skillfully, negotiating the rapids with ease, jumping from a cliff into the waters provides the grand finale,” adds Pant.

Cliff jumping is mostly done in mountain rivers (as part of a rafting trip) or in the sea. The platform for cliff jumping is usually a simple clearing in the bushes and other vegetation along the cliff above a river, sea or lake. If you are a beginner, it helps to choose a small harbour where the depth of water is clearly indicated. Then, select an area where you want to land, place one foot in front of the other and push off confidently.

When flying through the air, use your arms to steady yourself, making sure that you pull them to your sides just prior to hitting the water. Though there is no formal training available, yet at the minimum, first-time jumpers are usually taught how to enter the water correctly so that they don’t hurt themselves. In fact, the secret to a successful landing in the water is to be as straight as a ruler when in air, keeping the hands away from the face.

“Good supervision and guidance along with proper first-aid facility in place are recommended,” points out Kukreti. It’s also essential to have the right equipment while attempting cliff jumping. Shoes are essential. Protective clothing for the arms and legs such as a wet suit should always be worn. This is to help protect against barnacle rashes (a painful affliction which occurs when the skin comes into contact with barnacle-covered rocks). Moreover, it’s advisable to bring along experienced trainers, a towel and of course, a life jacket.

So what are you waiting for? If you want a break from the daily grind, go, jump.