BASE Jump in Grand Canyon Costs Daredevil $5,000; Conviction Includes Year of Probation

BASE jumper Chris McNamara must pay a $5,000 fine for leaping from a cliff in the Grand Canyon National Park, says a federal judge.

The winged daredevil and climber from Marin County, California did his wicked deed on November 5, 2007, during a badass Canyon adventure with climbing superstars Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden. (Rodden and Caldwell, you may recall, escaped from being kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan in 2000). You may remember them from A write-up of the event, which was filmed by photographer Corey Rich, doesn't mention the crime. But the November 5 entry does leave a hint:

There were some other good looking FA's [short of first ascent of a rock-climbing route] in the area but they would have required cleaning and we were off to... mile 38.5. Where we set up camp on a great beach right under an overhanging diving board 800 feet up.

Few would think of a rock outcrop at the top of an 800-foot cliff as a "diving board." Exceptions would include BASE jumpers -- people who parachute off a building, antenna, span or -- as in the case of the Grand Canyon cliff -- earth. In the photo above, McNamara is BASE jumping with a wingsuit in Italy.

Rich was also charged with a crime for failing to report the jump, even though he didn't film it. He has to pay $1,000.

McNamara's one-year probation includes the stipulation that he can't enter any national parks -- with the exception of Yosemite, where he volunteers his time for "civic work."

Officials say BASE jumping at the Grand Canyon creates too much risk for both participants and potential rescuers.

You can read the news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office below:



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Christopher Copeland McNamara, 30, of Marin County, Calif., and Corey Jonathon Rich, 33, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., appeared in federal district court in Flagstaff, today on charges relating to a November 5, 2007, illegal BASE jump in the Grand Canyon National Park. (BASE is an acronym that stands for the four categories of fixed objects from which someone can jump: a building, antenna, span or earth.)

McNamara pleaded guilty to illegally BASE jumping in Grand Canyon National Park and was sentenced today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey to one year probation and a $5,000 fine to be dedicated to protection resource monitoring in Grand Canyon. In delivering the sentence, the Court acknowledged McNamara's civic work in Yosemite National Park. Terms of probation include a ban from all National Park lands, except Yosemite National Park.

Rich pleaded guilty to violating the terms and conditions of his commercial filming river permit for failing to report the illegal BASE jumping activity. The Court deferred acceptance of the guilty plea for one year during which time Rich will use his work to promote the Leave No Trace education and to denounce illegal BASE jumping. He will pay $1,000 to be used for protection resource program monitoring in Grand Canyon. Upon the satisfactory completion of these conditions, the charge against him will be dismissed.

U.S. Attorney Diane J. Humetewa stated that, "The U.S. Attorney's Office is dedicated to protecting the resources on federal land in Arizona."

"BASE jumping is inherently dangerous; but that's only part of why it's prohibited in the park. BASE jumping here, where the terrain is so intensely rugged and the nearest help can be hours away, increases the inherent risks exponentially; and it puts park rescue personnel and resources at risk," stated Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Steve Martin. "Our concern is for the safety and protection of park visitors, park staff and park resources; so, we are grateful that the U.S. Attorney's Office was willing to so aggressively pursue prosecution of this case."

The charges were based upon events documented from an October 31 to November 17, 2007, river trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. Rich was issued a Special Use Permit for the purpose of filming a documentary about rock climbing and river rafting. The BASE jump was not filmed by Rich. On November 5, 2007, McNamara performed an illegal BASE jump on this trip in the Grand Canyon National Park.

The investigation in this case was conducted by Special Agents of the National Park Service. The prosecution was handled by Camille D. Bibles, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Flagstaff.