RUSSIA

Rope jumping: even better than Russian roulette

3 min

Young Russians have found a new way to add a little spice to their life: rope jumping. This unauthorised extreme sport is not unlike bungee jumping, except for two significant details: you don’t jump in an open, natural space, but off a city rooftop. And you don’t use an elastic cord, but a mountain climbing rope.

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Young Russians have found a new way to add a little spice to their life: rope jumping. This unauthorised extreme sport is not unlike bungee jumping, except for two significant details: you don’t jump in an open, natural space, but off a city rooftop. And you don’t use an elastic cord, but a mountain climbing rope.

 

Because rope jumping is such a new activity in Russia, there is no law regulating it. Although it is not officially forbidden,   police usually stop and dismantle any urban rope jumping squads they find, citing safety concerns.

 

The late American rock-climber Dan Osman is usually credited with inventing rope jumping: he was the first to begin jumping off cliffs and mountain tops tied to a safety rope. Osman was killed during a failed jump from the Leaning Tower rock formation in Yosemite National Park in 1998. He was 35 years old. Did he expect his idea to become the new big thing for urban youths in post-Soviet countries? Probably not.

 

Video posted on YouTube by dsfedorovv.

Video posted on YouTube by TheGteamNN. Both videos were shot in Nizhny Novgorod, home to the largest rope jumping sqad in Russia.

 

Rope Jumping around the ex-USSR

In Saint Petersburg. Video posted on YouTube by ff0000hate.

 

In Moscow. Video posted on YouTube by FlyRopeJumping.

 

An elderly woman jumping in Minsk, Belarus. Video posted on YouTube by alexkislov.

 

In Moldova. Video posted on YouTube by 45extreme.

 

 

Rope jumping is actually the safest of extreme sports”

Timofei Zuev, 24, is an entrepreneur and rope jumper. He lives in Nizhny Novgorod.

 

Our group of rope jumpers includes about 30 people, but there are three to four hundred more who jump with us occasionally. About 100 are regulars, and we all know each-other personally. But it all started two years ago with just two people, including me.

 

Besides our rope jumping squad in Nizhny Novgorod, there are several other big ones in Saint-Petersburg, as well as smaller ones in Moscow, Ural and Siberia. In Krasnoyarsk [southern Siberia] there are several great teams, they jump from a wonderful gorge near the city.

 

We jump because we love it, quite simply. At the very beginning we were attracted to the sport because it was unusual and scary, but now it’s just a pleasure. It’s also interesting to watch others, those who jump for the very first time with our help. Although it looks risky, it’s actually one of the safest extreme sports. To my knowledge, there have never been any reports of accidents, injuries or deaths due to rope jumoing in Russia. Occasionally scratches from climbing the fire escape to get up to the roof, but that’s all.

 

The reason it’s so safe is because we meticulously prepare each jump: the material needs to be at the right tension, correctly placed and correctly fastened. And the jumper is actually tied to three ropes, not one: that way, if one rope tears, the other two maintain his weight. It’s virtually impossible for all three ropes to tear at once, it has never happened.”

Post written with freelance journalist Ostap Karmodi.