Professional skier and filmmaker Mike Douglas says the BASE jumping community is angry after a man jumped from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler, B.C., then posted a video of the illegal stunt on YouTube.
The video posted on Wednesday, which also shows a woman in the gondola, was apparently shot from a helmet camera worn by a man, who makes the jump at around the 2:30 mark of the video.
Douglas, a Whistler resident, spoke on Friday of the community's frustration over the stunt.
"In the BASE jumping community, it's a pretty tight-knit group and there's a code of ethics these guys and girls abide by. It seems that this incident...broke those codes," he said.
"There's a certain level of vandalism done there and I know that my friends in the BASE community have come out and condemned it, saying 'Hey that was a bad move and you've kind of blown it for the rest of us so thanks for nothing,'."
Shane McConkey 'honoured'
The title of the video, McConkey Reborn, apparently honours Shane McConkey, an extreme skier who BASE jumped from the same point on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola when it opened in 2008.
McConkey's jump, with fellow BASE jumper Miles Daisher, was carried out during an event sponsored by Red Bull and with the permission of Whistler Blackcomb.
Douglas was a good friend of McConkey, who died in 2009 after jumping off a cliff with a parachute while filming a movie in Italy.
He says McConkey was a professional, who went through the right channels and came and did it the right way — unlike the man who carried out this illegal jump.
"This guy seems to have gone about it in all the wrong ways. He caused a lot of damage in the process which I think is not cool.
"And he wasn't that smart about the way he did it. He showed his face in the video, he had an accomplice. All these things that you just don't wanna do if you're into that sort of thing."
Douglas says he thinks what people are most annoyed by is the damage done to the gondola car, rather than the jump.
"It shines a bad light on the entire BASE community when someone does something like this so you hope that, if these guys go out there — and they're going to push it, they're going to find ways — but you hope that they're going to do it in at least an ethical sort of manner."
Police hunt man, arrest woman
Police believe the man who carried out the jump is 25 years old, and holds a B.C. driver's licence with a Vancouver address. They say he is originally from Ontario, but they have yet to locate him.
Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. LeClair said it is possible he pulled off the jump then headed back to the city and police continue to seek a warrant for his arrest.
"We're preparing a report to Crown counsel recommending charges against him of mischief over $5,000 and we will be seeking a warrant for his arrest.... He's arrestable right now if we locate him," said LeClair Thursday.
LeClair said the woman, originally from Ontario, has since been released on a promise to appear in court on April 2, in North Vancouver. RCMP are recommending charges of obstruction and mischief.
"We initially interviewed her on Feb. 6. She was not co-operative at that point and that's where the obstruction charge arises from," said LeClair.
"Now she was interviewed [Wednesday] and was more co-operative when she was presented with some of the evidence."
Meanwhile, it appears a man with a similar appearance to her companion has been on a BASE jumping tour of the region, apparently posting a YouTube video of a leap off the Stawamus Chief, a 700-metre-high mountain in Squamish, B.C.
Gondola safety mechanism damaged
In a statement issued Wednesday, a representative of Whistler Blackcomb said a man entered the gondola at around 3:45 p.m. PT before jumping 436 metres from the moving cabin at the highest point above Fitzsimmons Creek.
Judging from the video, it appears the man landed safely, but despite an extensive search by a Whistler Blackcomb mountain patroller and RCMP at the time, the jumper could not be found on the mountain.
The statement added that it is believed the man used brute force to open the gondola doors and caused $10,000 worth of damage to the opening and locking systems, which are designed to prevent the doors opening on their own.
"Whistler Blackcomb takes tampering a lift system very seriously and is working with the RCMP to press charges and recoup damages to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola," said the statement.
On Thursday, LeClair said the stunt was not funny and serious damage was done.
"This is a criminal act where somebody has indiscriminately done serious damage to someone else's property for selfish short-term gain."
Anyone with information about the BASE jumper is being urged to contact Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044.
BASE jumping usually involves a leap off fixed objects with a parachute. BASE is an acronym which stands for four types of objects from which jumpers can make the leap – a building, antenna, span, or Earth, such as a cliff.