Weekend Warm-Up: The Skye’s the Limit

Six years ago, Tim Howell decided to take up BASE jumping, including wingsuit flying. The former Royal Marine Commando fell in love with the adrenalin-charged sport. He became the first Briton to complete a ski BASE jump, and was the first person ever to do this in the UK at Buachaille Etive Mor, in the Scottish Highlands. He has jumped from famous landmarks around the world, including Table Mountain in Cape Town, Half Dome in Yosemite, Trident du Tacul in the Mont Blanc massif and the Grand Canyon in the U.S.

Howell eventually decided to combine his twin passions for mountaineering and BASE jumping. He set himself the challenge of becoming the first person to climb and then jump from all six classic North Faces in the Alps.

In 2015, he climbed the 1938 route on the North Face of the Eiger and leaped from an exit on the West Flank. Next, Tre Cime via the Comici Route, jumping from the summit.  In 2017, he completed the Cassin Route on Piz Badile, but was unable to find a launch point, so has to make a second attempt. Until recently, military commitments made his progress fairly slow. Now that he is retired, he intends to devote more time to his goal and to the mountains in general.  

Mike Pescod, Howell’s partner on this little adventure, has 25 years experience climbing and guiding. He has tackled just about everything everything the Scottish Highlands have to offer. More recently, he has diversified to the Alps, soloing Les Droites North Face and others. He does not BASE jump and in the film, he expresses the mountaineer’s reluctance to voluntarily fall off a perfectly good mountain. “My whole life is about staying attached,” says Pescod.

In this short film, set on the Isle of Skye, Howell — who has no such reluctance — hurls himself off some short but steep pillars, then the pair unwind with some ice climbing, which looks positively tame by comparison.