BASE Jumping and Highlining Collide at G.G.B.Y.

Highlights of limitless progression from Moab, Utah's annual grassroots gathering.
By Mike Cianciulli

Pushing limits is nothing new. That’s precisely how performance levels trend skyward. But what if we told you there was a place, deep in the deserts of Utah, where the lines of progressive sports blur while simultaneously apexing to new, unfathomable realities of what’s possible?

Enter G.G.B.Y. (Gobble, Gobble, Bitches, Yeah). The informal, annual gathering at the aptly named Fruit Bowl, outside Moab, organically draws envelope-pushers of all shapes, sizes and disciplines. Out here, it’s not uncommon to see nudist highliners donning snorkel gear, mountain bikers hucking themselves off 400-foot cliffs (attached to a rope) or BASE jumpers backflipping off the iconic Space Net.

The striking video above presents an in-depth look into this wacky, wild world. So turn up the speakers, go full screen and prepare to be blown away.

"It’s like the Burning Man of climbing, slacklining, highlining, rope swinging, paramotoring and BASE jumping all combined," Red Bull Air Force member Miles Daisher said. "There’s so many different sports coming together and this place is conducive to doing them all in one area. You can’t just throw all these sports together in your backyard. It takes a lot of vision to find a place like this."

Dany Schmidt playing on the 720-foot line © Katrin Bell/@katrinpbell

That vision evolved from mastermind "Sketchy" Andy Lewis and his band of Moab Monkeys — a group of limitless athletes who began congregating at Gemini Bridges every year around Thanksgiving to goof off, climb crags and send one-of-a-kind highlines. Right about the time this "spontaneous leaderless assembly" reached critical mass, Lewis and G.G.B.Y cofounder Terry Acomb discovered the Fruit Bowl.

“It’s a big horseshoe of a rock,” Daisher said. “Cliffs come out to the edge, with a big hole in the ground and it drops down 400 feet.”

It's all about finding what's possible to do with sports that exist, to create new sports on a higher level.

Miles Daisher

An ideal place for wily sports like highlining and BASE jumping to continue their evolution. After all, highlining derived from slacklining and Terry’s Colorado training facility is largely responsible for line-senders’ advancement from slacks to highs.

Mickey Wilson hucks into the Fruit Bowl's oblivion © Katrin Bell/@katrinpbell

"The draw with highlining is the satisfaction of the participant doing something which seems so improbable," Acomb said. "But it’s isn’t hard, it’s just new. When you learn to slackline, you learn four feet off the ground. Then, you can do this amazing thing — you can take that skill and transfer it to a highline way up high.

"In the last five years, these highliners took up BASE jumping. And then, more and more BASE jumpers have taken up highlining. The Fruit Bowl is one of the more spectacularly tied highline areas and lends itself to BASE jumping."

"Sketchy" Andy Lewis perfecting the Space Net © Katrin Bell/@katrinpbell

But more recently, Lewis and his team of Monkeys have strung together something so unfathomable that only the dozens of limit pushers connecting at the Fruit Bowl could’ve conjured it. The Space Net is a giant melting pot of parachute cord, rope and webbing strung together in the center of the massive Fruit Bowl. G.G.B.Y. attendees highline out to this hammock of sorts, relax for a bit while suspended 400 feet above the bottom of the canyon before BASE jumping off into oblivion.

"[The Space Net] is basically an evolution of highlining," Daisher said. "It’s a party of all these sports combined. It’s a party for learning. A party for progression."

Rilyn Vandemerwe diving in at the Fruit Bowl © Katrin Bell/@katrinpbell

Make no mistake, these aren’t sports in your traditional sense of the word. But progression like what’s here in Moab at the ninth installment of G.G.B.Y is what keeps the grassroots gathering growing.

"During the first three events, we all could fit around the same campfire," Acomb said. "Nowadays, there’s been an explosion of the number of people and also an explosion of the talent level. People who are into yoga, spinning fire, music … all the various things, this event has been a magnet for them lately. Community support and group support will very often push people to do things that they’re a little bit tentative of doing."

But perhaps Daisher summed G.G.B.Y up the best: "It's all about finding what's possible to do with sports that exist, to create new sports on a higher level."

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