Tales from the Primal House: Stealth bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge
Primal housemate Quinner, later at Point North. Another day in the office.
Editor’s Note:Please read part 1 of the story here.
Dec. 15, 1997 – Fly Fishing for Great Whites
TAL FLETCHER BOUNCED around in the back of a van with twelve other guys all wearing black gear, camouflage, and face paint.
“I looked around at the crew,” he says. “Jimbo was there, M.C., Miles D., Gambler, Dano, Senior, and Quinner, among others, and I wondered who in hell I was to be with them.”
It was Jimbo’s birthday, as well as the night that Joe Montana’s jersey was being retired in San Francisco. In classic Primal strategy, the crew figured most of the attention—police and otherwise—would be on Candlestick park. It was the ideal night for bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
The van dropped them off. They approached the bridge in the dark from the Marin side, then flung a rope up over a girder. Miles Daisher, with monkey-like gymnastic ability, ascended the rope then set up a rope ladder beneath the bridge for the rest to climb. As cars passed by 10 feet overhead, the group dropped into the understructure of the bridge, moving south toward San Francisco.
Some parts had catwalks for maintenance crews, but to get where they needed to go, the group had to cross several sections of thin I-beams with nothing below them but a 230-foot drop off into the Pacific Ocean. They moved slowly—most sitting down and inching along—except for Dano, who cruised around on the beams as if on a sidewalk.
To reach the center of the bridge, they had to climb ladders, slide down poles, and in some sections, climb hand over hand. At one point, their eyes were at tire-level. They peeped out across the road, ducking back down as cars passed by at 50 mph. In another place they encountered a video camera, and had to maneuver around it so as not to be seen.
The group made it out between the two towers, close to the center of the bridge, and set up for the jump. They called it “Fly-Fishing for Great Whites,” because the goal was to jump just far enough to get wet—a quick head-dunk in the Bay before getting snapped skyward on the bungee.
When it was his turn to jump, Tal took a deep breath, then launched off the bridge. There were several seconds of wind and speed, the lights of San Francisco blurring into the darkness of the oncoming water. Then, six feet above the surface, he rocketed back, rebounding several times, gradually coming to a rest, dangling halfway between the bridge and the ocean.
The group lowered a static line through a pulley with a carabiner on the end. Tal clipped in, and the rest of the crew pulled him up, walking backwards on the catwalk tug-of-war style.
The others took their jumps, with M.C—who always used a bullet-like form—going the deepest, touching the water. There were a lot of high fives afterwards, and then the group went back to celebrate, drinking beers and watching videos of the jump that several people had shot via helmet cams.
“I wasn’t sure if it was ‘the ultimate,’” Tal says. “But if it wasn’t, then I don’t know what is.”
Photos courtesy of Tal Fletcher.