I made my first trip to Norway this spring to document the quieter side of BASE jumping. So much of the imagery I had seen was this wide angle, GoPro-style photography, usually accompanied by a Red Bull logo and a speed-metal soundtrack. I wanted to capture the intimate side of the sport, following the athletes as they packed their chutes and embarked on hours-long hikes to exit points. I set out to find not only BASE jumpers, but outdoorsmen. The search led me to Tom Erik Heimen, a 41-year-old BASE jumper and skier who has become an unofficial guide to his local peaks on the coast of Norway.
Heimen invited me to join him on a trip to Isfjorden, a small town on the central west coast of Norway in the Romsdal Valley. Isfjorden, home to the Troll Wall—the tallest vertical rock face in Europe—is an under-the-radar adventure mecca. While local officials banned jumps from the Troll Wall after a spate of fatalities there in the ‘80s, there are many other legal jumping sites in the area and Heimen has spent years developing new ones. This is a look at what goes into one of Heimen’s jumps and at those who join him.
Photos by Patrick DoughertyA 20-foot tall, three-headed troll sculpture in the parking lot of my campsite. Legend has it that trolls inhabit the woods in northern Norway. They also inhabit the tourist shops.Homes in the village of Isfjorden, roughly a six-hour drive north of Oslo.A stop to scout a flight path on the way to the trailhead. We are led by Heimen (center), who acts as local guide for many of his friends looking to BASE jump. Heimen is a well known outdoorsman in the area, hiking and jumping in the summer and skiing in the winter. There was not a single hike on which we didn’t run into someone he knew. He’s tough to keep up with.Heiman on the approach to the Romdalseggen, or Romsdal Edge. He practically jogs up the steep, two-hour hike.Jumper Espen Fadnes on the approach to Romdalseggen.Heimen and Kristian Tolaas Trondsen looking out over the Romsdal Valley.Hestad scouting a potential new exit point.Loads of preparation goes into every jump, and Heiman takes all of it very seriously. Every exit point is studied thoroughly before the jump, which Fadnes is doing here.Heimen suiting up across the valley from the Troll Wall, which can be seen behind him on the right.Heiman activating his GPS watch, not only to record speed but also to broadcast his location should anything go awry.Fadnes, goggles on.The guys throw rocks off the ledge and watch them fall to get a sense of how much room they have below. The sound of falling rock in the quiet valley feels prehistoric as well as vertigo-inducing.Heimen, Fadnes, and Hestad gather before stepping out to the edge. While suiting up, the guys are lighthearted, chatting away and making jokes. But as soon as the time comes to step out to the edge, a tense, concentrated energy takes over.A few practice reaches for the rip cord to reinforce muscle memory. This was the one thing everybody did independently of each other on every jump I witnessed.Hestad stepping out to the edge.
Big. Crazy. Opinionated.