A Leap of Faith
The Bernese Alps, Switzerland
There are a number of crazy ways to see the Eiger. You can climb it, jump directly off it with a parachute, or leap out of a helicopter that’s flying over it. Of course, of these three death-defying feats, the only one you can even think about attempting without serious mountaineering or skydiving skills is the last option. To try it, you just have to be in relatively good shape and show up with a whole lot of nerve.
Set in the Bernese Alps, between Jungfrau and Grindewald, the Eiger—at 3,970m (13,025 ft.)—looms large, not just because of its natural stance but also thanks to its rich history. In 1858, an Irishman and two Swiss guides made the first successful ascent up its western side. In 1938, an Austrian-German group scaled its north face for the first time. Since then, adventurous climbers have found all kinds of new ways to Spiderman their way up the mountain and Superman back down it. In 2008, U.S. climber Dean Potts free soloed the northern face and then BASE jumped directly from the top with a special parachute. (The acronym “BASE” stands for the different stationary structures from which enthusiasts of this extreme sport catapult themselves: Buildings, Antenna towers, Spans, and Earth.) There are real dangers here, and at least 64 climbers have died trying both new and old feats on the Eiger. The increasing amount of rock fall and diminishing ice fields make it an extremely challenging climb, particularly in the summer—which, of course, is part of the thrill in conquering it.
With this in mind, you can now get even higher than the peak without even wearing out your hiking boots. From your perch in a tranquil helicopter, gliding right above the snow-covered peaks of the Alps, you can enjoy a panoramic look at this picturesque region—before jumping straight into it. In tandem with an experienced skydiver, you can leap straight out of your ride at 4,000m (13,123 ft.) and soar through the air over the Eiger. With one of the biggest adrenaline rushes you’ve ever experienced, you race toward the ground in a 1,500m (4,921-ft.) freefall for 30 seconds at 200kmph (124 mph) before your parachute launches and you gracefully float back to earth.