BASE jumping is all about risks. Most are calculated, but there’re always ones you can’t plan for, especially when you’re in Hong Kong. But for Aussie jumpers Locklan Gilbert, BJ Johnson and Wes Burrows, those risks are all part of the adventure.
The trio have just returned from a wild 10-day trip to Hong Kong where they jumped off as many skyscrapers as possible, and ended up all over the news here when they got detained by police.
Now back home in Perth and planning his next adventure, we caught up with BJ to get the lowdown on their insane HK experience.
Wes Burrows, BJ Johnson and Locklan Gilbert, pre-jump selfie.
Mate, you guys have been all over the news here. They say you were locked during your trip to Hong Kong and all sorts. What’s the go?
[Laughs] Yeah we made all the Aussie channels and I had mates in Spain who saw it over there too. The news said we were locked up in Hong Kong for BASE-jumping, but we were just detained for two or three hours for questioning.
We wanted to jump off the International Finance Centre, which is like the Hong Kong version of the World Trade Centre, but we set off an invisible alarm all the way to the roof, so by the time we got there the security and police were waiting for us. We recorded it all as we went and the police asked our names and were puzzles as to why we were there. They asked what was in our bags I said “it’s a parachute” and he was like “on no, very danger, this is Hong Kong. No BASE-jumping!”
They escorted us out of there and questioned us. They were actually pretty cool and fascinated, but we convinced them we wouldn’t do it again… then we jumped again that afternoon.
After all the banged-up abroad stories, were you crapping yourself when you were busted?
I wasn’t too worried. The worst that could happen is to get locked up for a little while.
Haha! Tell us a bit about the trip to Hong Kong.
Altogether the three of us did 35 jumps in 10 days, so it was full on. It takes a bit to scout the buildings and it’s sort of hectic with telephone wires and cars everywhere. We had to jump over the top of other buildings, look out for obstacles in freefall, they were technical jumps. And usually we find a tall building, the way in, then the landing area. In Hong Kong we had to find a landing area first, as every bit of land has a skyscraper on it!
What was the gnarliest jump you did?
There was one 27-hour mission for one jump. We took a train into China late at night and had to pass the border and military checkpoints. We were shitting ourselves. We then broke into the China Resources Headquarters, which is a 1000ft tower shaped like a bullet that they’re still building. There’s a crane out the side of it, so it’s about 1300ft from the top of the crane.
Anyway, we had to sneak past the guards and 1000 sleeping slum dwellers who’re working on the tower, then take stairs the whole way to the top. By the time we got to the top of the crane the sun was coming up and all the builders were coming into the tower like ants, so we had no choice but to jump in sketchy wind that was blowing towards the building. I did a slow backflip but the wind blew me off axis and when I looked down I was heading straight for the building. I had a crazy opening and flew to safety, but it was f**king scary. Two of us almost died because of the wind, but we landed and got the f**k out of China.
Damn, that’s crazy! Generally speaking, was it easy to break into the buildings you targeted?
We thought it’d be heaps easier than it actually was. The physical security, locks, alarms and stuff were well behind the times, but there are security guards that stand on the roofs and that’s much harder to work around. We also had a goal to jump from one building to another, then tack and jump again as many times as we could, but the weather conditions didn’t allow for it.
So are there plans to go back?
Not to Hong Kong, but we’ll hit another city. We were in the news a lot in Hong Kong and are worried that if we go back we’ll get in the shit. People were starting to recognize us on the street and ask for photos, and if we entered any lobby of a building they’d be onto us straight away. At the start of the trip they wouldn’t look twice at us, but after nine or 10 days they were a lot more vigilant.
Hahaha that’s nuts, man. Sounds like it was an epic trip! Thanks for the chat and we’ll catch up with ya soon.