Jumping In


How do you do it? You seem to live the rad existence of up and down, climbing and BASE and you get to live in the sweet, sweet desert paradise of southern Utah. So, seriously, how do you do it? I currently live in St. George, UT, on the other side of paradise, and am working in wilderness therapy. The 8 days on, 6 days off schedule has awesome sauce dumped all over it, but I’ve been doing it for a spell and need a change. It would be a long-standing dream come true if I could climb and BASE. The trouble is a question of logistics. How do you afford to do it all? I’m currently a couple jumps into AFF and I have about 5 years climbing experience, but dang-a-lang it’s expensive. Do you have any advice for a lowly, poor dirtbag trying to finance his dream? What’s your story and how long did it take you to complete the skydive experience necessary? Any suggestions? I’m at a transition point in life and ready to turn over a new chapter, but I would also love to maintain the community that I’ve formed in Utah; I’d love to stay in the relative area if at all possible. I look forward to hearing from you. You’re the cat’s meow.


Hi Zach,
I have always thought that dirtbag climbers who want to climb all the time would be very smart to get a loan from someone (parents?) and fairly quickly get a tandem rating. There is always a demand everywhere for tandem masters, and they rake in an astonishing amount of money even just working weekends at a busy drop zone. So for a climber, it would be perfect. You’d work weekends skydiving (pretty fun anyway), pay off your loan in a matter of months, and then you would have a healthy income with 5 days a week to go climbing.

Another thing you can do is try to get your coach rating quickly or start flying camera, because then you will get jumps paid for and earn money.

I bought used gear almost immediately, before I even had my A license. It’s a lot of money to spend, but it cuts your jump prices in half if you have been renting.

My secret to living free has always been to keep the overhead low. It’s just like losing weight: if you eat more calories than you spend, you will gain weight. And vice versa. As long as you spend less than you make, you can always live well. For years I was far happier living in the back of my truck, knowing I wasn’t “throwing away” money on rent. That gave me a lot of freedom. Now I live in a renovated (by me) ’68 doublewide, and I don’t have a mortgage. That gives me a lot of freedom, and security, both of which are important to me. Plus I love my house 🙂

I have also noticed that everything is always a question of priorities. You can spend $15 eating dinner, or you can spend $15 on a jump ticket at Lodi.

AFF is definitely the worst time of skydiving, for being outrageously expensive. So if you can get through that and get some gear, it will be easier. Still, skydiving is not a dirtbag sport. Unlike climbing, the way to get on the right side of the cost equation is to work in the sport. So I still think that is worth pondering…
Good luck! Steph

  • Anonymous

    How long did you live in you truck Steph?

  • Anonymous

    summers for two years when I was still in school, and then 5 years full time. But I had an oldsmobile for the first few years before I got a truck.
    right now I have to be doing it again for half the week, since it seems to be the only place I can get my book written !!

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    That’s cool to hear your’re writing another book. Will it be the next chapter(s) of high infatuation or are you tackling something different?

  • Anonymous

    That’s cool to hear your’re writing another book. Will it be the next chapter(s) of high infatuation or are you tackling something different?

  • JJ

    When you live in your truck, how much do you miss the luxuries homes allow? Like showers and stuff!

  • Anonymous

    well, i love showers. but if I can’t have them, that’s okay too 🙂 the only luxury I miss unbearably besides cleanliness is my cat….

  • Anonymous

    it’s a memoir, but more of a straight narrative.

  • Crag cat! Thanks for the reply, you made my day!

  • monkeyboyrob

    oh yeah- aff sucked… got me out of skydiving before i even knew what i was doing.   big pain in the ass trucking out to the dz only to end up with three to five days of twenty plus mile an hour winds when i couldn’t jump.  i cumulatively spent probably a dozen days camped there, and only got in six jumps, two a day when i could jump.

    i gotta tell you though, my second jump on my first day was a sunset jump from about 16,500-  i got about two minutes of freefall, and popped sort of late, but still got the sunset canopy ride.  i was in heaven- it was like when we’ve all watched vultures scant feet away, from above, gliding thermals; or heard the rustle and swoop of the swallows rushing down the basalt runnel of el matador, between spread arms and stemmed legs.

    i went to the beer store that night, a few miles down the freeway, and the car (a convertible with the top down) just couldn’t go fast enough.  the tune “overcast” by victor krause came on the radio, and i was in nirvana, i mean a real ‘state of no wind’.

    there’s really nothing like it…

    and anybody that talks that “perfectly good airplane” crap has never seen what a piece of junk most drop zone planes are-  the canopies aren’t just the activity, they’re plan b as well.

    so cool you went through the whole thing- (this isn’t all just a cover up for faked logbooks like everybody else did, is it?).  i think it is awesome that you’re doing the wingsuit thing.  how’s the learning curve on that particular bit of madness?

    speaking of madness, wasn’t i driving that oldsmobile when we got pulled over on the top of the loop road (because i missed the early turn) towing paul’s honda?

    hahaha!  miss you, sis.
    good to know you’re out there pulling down (and evidently flying down as well).


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