Go Play: Jumping overboard with Roaring Fork Skydivers in western Colorado (video)
Roaring Fork Skydivers
Tandem skydives cost $308; a second tandem the same day costs $225; still photos cost $75; video costs $100 and includes photos; discounts are available for groups of five or more, military and students.
For more information, visit www.roaringforkskydivers.com or call 970-364-3737.
If you think the scenery here is beautiful, you should try plummeting toward it from 8,500 feet.
That’s what I did in mid-April with Roaring Fork Skydivers, a 6-year-old company that moved last June to Glenwood Springs from Boulder (where it was called Independent Skydive Co.). Owned and operated by Jeremy Divan, a Marine Corps veteran and internationally known skydiver who’s done more than 7,000 jumps, the company offers tandem jumps, rigging services and skydive training, all out of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport.
I had never gone skydiving, but I had wanted to try it for as long as I can remember. I’m certainly not one who enjoys dangerous situations, but skydiving has always seemed perfectly safe to me.
That’s probably because it nearly is. According to the U.S. Parachute Association, in 2014, there were 24 recorded fatal skydiving accidents in the United States out of roughly 3.2 million jumps. That means you have a 0.00075 percent chance of dying from skydiving.
That didn’t make my mom feel any better about the situation, though.
But on the day of my jump, I was feeling fine — especially after meeting Divan, who would be my tandem partner and who would — literally — have my life in his hands. He instantly started cracking jokes and making friendly conversation with me in between giving instructions on how not to get us both killed.
After gearing up and using the bathroom (a very important early step in the skydiving process), I climbed into the tiny 1960 Cessna that would take me on half my journey. It was quite a cozy ride, and I couldn’t help but wonder how Jeremy and I were going to shimmy out the narrow door when it came time to jump.
But once we took off, I wasn’t wondering much of anything, except how a place as beautiful as our valley can possibly exist. Even Highway 82 looks majestic from the sky, where it’s just another part of the breathtaking red mountains we may take for granted when we’re commuting up and down the valley. We flew right over Carbondale, where we were eye-level with the summits of Mount Sopris. We could see Aspen’s snowy mountains in the distance.
The whole experience was one vivid view after another, as if someone created a watercolor flip book of our most beloved landscapes.
As relaxing as it was to take in that scenery, in the back of my mind I couldn’t wait to get to the finale.
At five minutes until the jump, Divan helped me get my goggles on (outrageously uncomfortable, but safety first) and went over everything I had to do during the jump: lean my head back, cross my arms over my chest, arch my back and make sure my legs were bent and relaxed. A tap on the shoulder means raise your arms. Smile for the GoPro.
When it was time to go and the door opened, a burst of cold air hit me hard, but I was too excited to mind. We scooted toward the front of the plane, and I stepped out sideways, first one foot, then the other.
And then we jumped.
It was more like a fall, really. We flipped backward once before settling on our stomachs against the wind. I screamed, of course — not out of fear, but out of pure ecstasy. I don’t know how long the free fall lasted, but it seemed like mere seconds before the parachute was out and we were floating lazily back to earth, back to reality.
As we were floating, Divan loosened my straps to make me a little more comfortable and said I could take my goggles off (thank goodness). He even let me steer a little bit, but he took over the driving when it counted.
The landing was perfect and soft, even gentler than I thought it would be — and we didn’t end up on someone’s roof, which is always a plus.
If you’ve ever been curious about skydiving, all I can say is: The time is now. Don’t wait another moment to experience that indescribable, free feeling of falling through the sky — especially in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I’m already saving up for the next jump.
Jessica Cabe would like to apologize to her parents for any lost sleep, high blood pressure or anxiety this experience may have caused them. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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