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Vermont Swimmin Club

Stay Wild

West Coast & East Coast Cliff Jumping Together

Story By Jeff Edwards // @la_swim

Photos by Zachary Liptak // @zaplipzach

 

The water was the perfect shade of turquoise, an invite we couldn’t refuse. There was a rumor that this quarry called Little Bahamas had leeches. We don’t get to see many leeches in California, so I didn’t even know what to look for. As I was getting out I saw one, then another. They were monstrous, something out of a horror movie. That’s when we decided to move on.

We rolled up to the second spot on our list. Everyone calls this place The Grotto. The last quarry was pretty small compared to this one. In fact, this place was so huge we would spend the next two days exploring all of its crevices. As we arrived, a few people were already jumping the huge cliff everyone calls The Slab. It is a large slab of dark granite that slopes outward at a very slight angle, 67 feet before it reaches the water. This means you need a running start if you want to clear out far enough to hit the water. After about 15 minutes of jumping, the cops showed up and told us we had to leave. Apparently we were loud as fuck and one of the people that lives near the quarry called the cops and complained. I’m sorry that this lady was bothered by our presence, but that’s like living next to Disneyland and complaining that there are crowds walking by your house all hours of the day. If you don’t want to be bothered, then I suggest you don’t live right next to a famous cliff jumping quarry. 

In California, there are always some rocks below that we have to jump clear of, the take-off spots are rarely bigger than a foot wide, and we always have to jump in a tiny sweet spot maybe 10 feet in diameter. East coast quarries are all very deep, with sheer cliff faces and huge run-ups. The only issue with quarries is the still water. You need to throw rocks down to break the surface tension just to see where to land and so it doesn’t hurt as much when you hit the still water. 

After jumping the slab most of the day we headed over to the other side of the quarry the locals call The Rat Shack, named after the dilapidated building atop the black and white marbled cliffs in the area. The cliff measures 83 feet. About 30 yards away, another massive cliff measuring 110 feet looms over the water. Not many people have jumped this cliff, which is probably a good thing. After sending a few people to swim over and lifeguard the area, Jon Faye launched a massive double half. Shortly after, the safety coordinator for the quarry came up and yelled at us to get out. After 30 minutes of hesitation, Aaron Fleenor knew he had to do it now cuz we were all getting kicked out. Aaron peeked over the edge one last time, walked a few steps back and ran as fast as he could to rip a monster gainer. The safety guy was screaming his head off and was literally on the verge of an aneurysm. I’ve never seen someone so angry at kids having a good time. His life must be hell. 

After getting the boot, we drove to Bingham Falls to jump for a bit while we still had some light out. We planned on camping here, so everyone set up their tents and we jumped till it got dark. Then a couple stragglers from the group came in and warned us that the police showed up to the parking lot and threatened to tow out all 20+ of our vehicles if we were still here in an hour. Half the group was ready to call his bluff—we had all our tents and hammocks set up and had started drinking, and no one was in the mood to tear down and set up somewhere else. Also, we had nowhere else to go. Peter Henry called his family up and asked if it was okay if our fat crew could come crash in his yard for the night, and they gave us the thumbs up. We showed up around 9pm, set up all our tents and hammocks, and began raging as violently as possible. Peter’s dad must be friends with the local law enforcement, cuz I’m sure every neighbor on the block had called the police on us. 

At some point during the night someone set up a giant trampoline, and instead of everyone taking turns, the whole party smashed on it all at once. Springs were flying everywhere, people were getting hurt left and right. Then the Royal Rumble idea came up: 30+ people wrestling on the trampoline with only one man standing wins. It was a disaster of epic proportions. The campfire kept burning and the only reason the party died down was cuz a giant storm blew in around 5am. It dumped hard and lightning was striking a few hundred yards away from us. Some people had passed out drunk on the grass and woke up to the rain, then went back in their tents to find out they were flooded inside cuz they forgot to put on the rain fly. A few lucky people got to crash inside the house and didn’t have to deal with any of the noise or weather.

The next day, one by one, everyone zombied out of their tents and wondered what the hell happened that night. Peter’s mom bought ten thousand bagels and 50 gallons of coffee for everyone, which helped immensely. While a couple people warmed up on the trampoline, the Henry family busted out buckets full of water balloons and the craziest war erupted. As much as we enjoy swimming in water all day, something about getting smacked in the chest with a water balloon is enraging. 

After drying off, we hopped in the cars and drove to a secret quarry about 15 minutes away from the Henry House. We snuck in like ninjas and spent the entire day here. The jumps ranged from 20–90 feet. No one had actually jumped the 90-footer. That changed quickly. I would love to admit that we got kicked out of every spot on this trip, but this was the one spot we didn’t.