"I grew up watching Shane McConkey's ski movies and remember the day in 2009 when he died in the Dolomites, skiing off Saas Pordoi. When I started mountaineering and BASE jumping I knew I wanted to visit these locations that had such an impact on me."
Marco is a good friend of mine, a highly capable wingsuiter and ski/mountain guide who knows the area well. He was keen to do his first ski BASE off the huge cliffs of Saas Pordoi. I had just driven from the UK the day before, stopping en route in Verbier before meeting Marco. Stood in the valley looking up, we felt dwarfed by the huge south face of Saas Pordoi.
It was early in the season, and with not as much snow as usual years. The gondola wasn't open yet, so we boot-packed up. Once we gained the saddle we then traversed to the steepest part of the wall. The exposure kept my focus and at the end of the steep slope was the 400m-plus drop. We traversed until we could go no further. The only thing left was to gear up and wait for a lull in the wind.
I set up for the run-in, controlled my breathing and did my final checks. Calm, I then committed to straight-lining it over the edge of the void. Getting the perfect trajectory off a cliff and ensuring correct body symmetry is critical, but it's not something to overthink. The muscle memory gained from years of skiing and BASE jumping comes in useful here.
The commitment is unlike anything else; falling until the ground comes rushing in.
I pull my pilot chute which in turn pulls out my parachute. A life-affirming jolt as the canopy deploys and I then fly down to meet my friend in the valley floor to celebrate a successful jump from Saas Pordoi.