Mt. Asgard base jumpers to apologize, pay a fine
Three men jumped off 2,015-metre mountain in 2009, then made prize-winning film
First it was an award-winning film, then it became a court case.
But three men who risked their lives scaling and freefalling off Mt. Asgard in Auyuittuq National Park no longer face charges for their stunt that they filmed for a documentary film, called The Asgard Project.
The case was settled Oct. 1 at the Nunavut Court of Justice for British climber Leo Houlding, 32, American Sean “Stanley” Leary, 37, and Spaniard Carlos Quiroga Suarez, 40, who climbed up the 2,015-metre mountain in 2009.
They have to give $1,000 to a Parks Canada charity, and publish an apology in two climbing magazines and apologize to the film festivals where The Asgard Project won its awards.
The trio’s “base- jump” — with the “base” an acronym standing for the four categories of fixed objects from which base jumpers leap from: B- for buildings, A- for antennae towers, S- for spans of bridges and E- for earth features — happened to be a violation of the Canada National Parks Act.
Auyuittuq National Park warden Matthew Blackman laid charges against the three men on May 18, 2011.
That’s after a film documenting their endeavor, called The Asgard Project, had been released and won several awards in 2010.
The awards included the best climbing film award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, grand prize at the Adventure Film Festival in London that year, and grand prize at the Torello Mountain Film Festival in Spain, among others listed the film’s website.
A warrant for the three men’s arrest had been issued Aug. 30, 2011, but all three had already left Canada.
And after a long wait and many adjourned court dates at the Nunavut Court of Justice, Parks Canada and the lawyer representing the filmmakers came to a resolution Oct. 1 in an Iqaluit courtroom.
“All three live in different countries, so it took a long time to try and arrange. On top of that, they’re all adventurers so they travel around the world all the time,” defense lawyer Malcolm Kempt told Nunatsiaq News.
Kempt served as defense for the men. He watched their movie, describing it as “incredible.”
“That’s one of the main reasons I agreed to take on the case,” Kempt said.
“It’s some of the most spectacular images of the park you’re ever going to find, and they did the first free ascent of one of the toughest big wall climbs in the world under some of the harshest conditions in the world.”
Base jumping isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be extremely dangerous. In May 2010, an Australian tourist died near Clyde River after jumping off Mt. Kiguti.
And these kinds of stunts can also result in legal charges: two Australians who paraglided off Mt. Thor in Auyuittuq this past summer have also been charged under the Canada National Parks Act. Their case is set to be heard next month in Pangnirtung.