How a BASE Jumper Uses Digital Maps to Plan New Adventures
Tim Howell is a mountaineer and professional BASE jumper, pioneering many first jumps all around the world. We talked to him about his latest film, First BASE, and how he utilises digital tools to his advantage in the world of extreme gravity sports.
FATMAP: Hi Tim, congrats on your latest film First BASE, how did that come about and what was it like filming it?
Tim Howell: Cheers, I always like to explore what’s on our doorstep, so I try and get up to Scotland for a week or two each year. I planned the shoot with Jöttnar months in advance and was very skeptical that the weather would be good enough to BASE jump, but fortunately we got a whole week of jumping weather. It was really cool to work with Mike at Abacus Mountain Guides as he was able to show me some areas I wouldn't have found without him.
FM: What was it like scouting ski-tours and BASE jumping spots in the Winter season?
TH: It's often word of mouth or searching for pictures on the internet that lead to me finding a potential jump. Then the planning starts. FATMAP is invaluable for helping me find an exit point and how to reach that cliff. The new snow layers tool was very helpful as snow doesn't often fall that low on the isle of Skye, so we jumped at the chance to get the first ski BASE on the island when we realized there was enough snow on the ground.
FM: What other adventures have you been up to recently and what’s in the pipeline?
TH: We have just come back from Vietnam from an amazing trip bashing through the jungle. Next trips on the horizon are Greenland, Malawi and Mozambique.. I'm going to have to save the maps offline for these trips!
FM: Tell us a little bit about the planning and prep that goes in to what you do.
TH: It often starts with a picture I've saved on Instagram, like an amazing looking rock feature. Then I find out where it is. Using the tools in FATMAP, I can then gauge how high it is and the terrain profile to see how far I can fly under canopy. Access is of course very important, so I often plot my route and save it offline for reference when I’m there.
FM: How has your use of digital tools changed over the years in your sport?
TH: Just in the five years I've been jumping, the amount of digital tools available have changed so much, making it safer for us to plan a jump. We now have bluetooth lasers so we can upload the terrain profile and then compare it to a GPS profile of our wingsuit flight, enabling us to figure out if there is enough margin for error.
Tim Howell’s ski-touring route up to the Old Man Storr
FM: Finally, what’s your outlook on the future of outdoor sports and technology?
TH: I think technology is just helping us become safer in the mountains, which is only a good thing. Social media can be seen as a hindrance but used in the right way I think it's a great asset. We can share condition reports, raise awareness of certain situations as well as be inspired/ inspire others to get outside and complete our goals, as long as it keeps going in this direction, I'm all for it.
FATMAP is a platform that allows people to get outdoors and live their own adventurers, no matter how big or how small.
Planning is an integral part of any adventure and the tools available on FATMAP allow professional athletes and amateurs alike to delve deep into understanding their terrain and routes.