Meet Dante Ward: Base-jumper extraordinaire, professional sky-diver, speed-flier and Boulder native with cojones of steel
"I just try to play every day."
Some human beings, simply weren’t born to live terrestrial lives. Some humans were born to fly — identifying more with birds and bats and flying squirrels, than with the rest of nature’s Earthbound beings.
Dante Ward is one such creature. He started skydiving as soon as it was legal to do, and was hooked from the very first moment he hurled himself out of a plane some ten- or fifteen-thousand feet in the air. He found his happy place, in the gut-churning, mind-bending tumult of a fall from heaven — and he hasn’t abandoned it since.
Ward spends his days flying whenever and wherever he can. He travels the world to exotic new places to jump off of sheer cliffs and skyscraper roofs. When he’s not doing that, he works on tour with electronic bands as a traveling live-show photographer. Check out his website here, and or his instagram @outrageous.
To put it simply: ward a pretty cool, dude. And after watching enough of his Instagram videos to make my palms sweat, I reached out to him to pick his brain about his strange sky-bound lifestyle and some of his favorite places to jump.
When I called him he was (not-surprisingly) high up somewhere, where the wind and service made our phone call somewhat broken. He stepped away from the ledge, to go find somewhere with a little better reception.
Hay! Can you hear me?
Well enough. What's up man - where are you at right now?
Right now I'm over in the like Salt Lake area. Yeah I'm living out here now for the fall season, just trying to fly all the time. It's pretty awesome out here.
Gotcha, right on. Well, I guess to start would you kind of tell about where you’re from and how you got into these insane sports?
So, I grew up in Boulder, Colorado. And I have been in Colorado my whole life. Kind of split time between Denver and Boulder. I did a tandem skydive for my 18th birthday — so that's the minimum age you can do a skydive at — and was stoked. I was like, ‘his is awesome.’ I was in high school at the time and didn't really have the money at the time to really commit and get a skydiving license.
But, yeah, that was my senior year. I early graduated and I was actually on tour, I was doing like photo/video work full-time for the music scene. I was on tour with this group in California, actually in San Francisco. And one of the people I found on the Internet after I did [my first] tandem skydive, I reached out to on Instagram. We were talking and we were actually in the same area, in San Fran, at the same same time, and we met up and we climbed like an eighty-two story crane, and then he jumped off. And I was like, ‘that's the next thing I need to do.’
So I got back from that and started skydiving. I got to get trained up, got an A-license. And yeah, the rest is history. I got really into base jumping for a few years. And that's what I mainly do, now. But, tandem skydiving is how it all started.
How long you been doing all this for now. How long has it been since your 18th birthday?
I think like four and a half years now. So, yeah, just pretty much since then I've been doing it every day — some sort of thing involved with flying.
That’s insane, man. Do you have a preference between, like wingsuit or base jumping or or whichever?
I kind of like doing all the stuff, you know. I get bored really easily. So even with this stuff, like, I do one of the air sports and then move onto another. So, I mean base jumping, paragliding, and then kind of a subdivision of paragliding called “speed-flying” which is just paragliding with smaller, faster wings. So, kind of all that — I really do like speed flying and base jumping the most, though. And then skydiving, I have this kind of job element with that.
Do you have a favorite jump, or favorite place to jump?
So, two years ago, me and some friends went out to China, we did a base jumping trip out there. And that was pretty awesome. Definitely, some all-time favorite jumps there. It did end with us getting arrested we got deported from China. But it's still an awesome time.
Deported? Sounds like an interesting travel story.
Yeah, definitely. It wasn't so fun. But looking back at what happened, you know, it was a good experience overall.
Just base on your photography, it looks like you do a decent amount of urban exploration. Is that like is that just another hobby for you?
Yeah, it is. It started out as a hobby. Go back a few years ago before I got into all the air sports, and I was climbing around on buildings and cranes, sneaking around in the night and having fun. And, you know, I've always had a love for photography. So I started bringing a camera and capturing spots where most people couldn't get to, or would never see. So that had a big appeal.
And that's definitely what led to changing it up. I was doing photography on top of buildings for a long time, and I was like, alright let's jump off of them now.
What’s been your scariest jump?
Oh, I- I've had plenty of those. Not that many, but definitely have had a few base jumps where I've almost killed myself. But luck was on side and I'm still around.
Just watching your speed-flying video, and it really doesn’t look like you leave yourself a margin for error…
There's definitely not. But, you know, everything is a progression. You don't start off on small eight meter wings, going seventy, eighty miles an hour, two feet off the ground. You start on bigger wings and with more room and then you get to a point where you’re very comfortable doing that.
It’s definitely not a large margin — if you crash you're going to die. So, don't crash.
No doubt. How do you pick the spots that you normally jump from?
So base jumping is a pretty small community. There's not a lot of people, especially in the US, that do it. But the people that do, do it are really tight with eachother and everybody shares information.
Anything you want people to know about?
One project that I'm working on right now with the company. Impossible HQ is doing like a multi-aiir sport day so in one day: paragliding, speedflying, skydiving, wing suiiting and base jumping. We're actually working on a video for that. But, you know, all in one day doing all that.
That sounds that sounds like a hell of a day.
It is going to be a hell of a day. Yeah. And I've done it before accidentally, but putting together a video and doing it with multiple people and really awesome places — because you can do it not in a super challenging way, but doing it in really awesome places is what's going to be intensive.