I've had some hellacious weeks at work, and was in desperate need of clearing my head. So, when a friend mentioned he wanted to jump off the Stratosphere, I was game. I figured it was just what I needed. Frank and I have known Dan since highschool. He brought his wife to Vegas to see Tim and Faith's Soul2Soul show at the Venetian. They were both Vegas virgins and not even 20 hours after landing we had them atop the Stratosphere enjoying thrills.
Dan and I made reservations for 7:30, but when we got to the SkyJump store before 7 o'clock, they only had one group ahead of us. We had just enough time to hit the restroom and grab a drink at the bar. We were suited up and given shoes since ours didn't pass inspection. Once weighed and given a couple safety checks we were led around to the elevators to the observation deck. We had seperate access from those seeking admission to the top. Once on the observation deck, we were whisked around to the SkyJump launch area.
There, we met a lady that chickened out on her first attempt. She was trying to work up the courage to go through with the jump. "Are you nervous?" she asked us both. In unison we replied, "Nope! Just excited!" Even she thought we were nuts. My biggest concern about the jump was the weather. I didn't want to be cold and felt that we chose a good day to make the jump. It wasn't windy (though you wouldn't know it 855 feet up) and temps were mid-80's. The air wasn't cool nor did it feel like an oven. I was confident. I jumped before Dan. Later, he said his last thought was "this probably isn't a good idea!"
I was brought into the jumping area. They checked my weight and performed a couple more safety checks. They suggested I land with bent knees and a straight back. It was then I thought of one potential problem. I hadn't considered the landing. I have two weak ankles. And the right one is particularly fragile. I asked how much shock is absorbed and was told it was about the same as jumping from 3ft. I should be able to withstand that, I thought. "Any other questions?" he asked. "Nope, let's do this!" I replied. They announced 30 seconds for Kellee over the loud speaker. Frank was watching from down below.
I was led outside, the wind whipped in my face, I pushed my hair to side and tucked it into my suit. With my toes dangling over the edge of the platform the city was beneath me. I held on to the scaffolding until I was cleared to jump. 3... 2... 1...
Then, I let go. And jumped.
It's a controlled free fall so you don't plummet immediately. You hang for a second, maybe two, then the descent begins. You reach speeds of 45mph but it seems a bit slower. You have time to look out and take in the views around you. Soon, you approach the ground and the cables slow you down. The impact when you touch down was a more than I expected. I immediately felt a shooting pain from the bottom of my foot up to my calf. I don't know if it was just my weak ankles, the lack of support in the loaner shoes or what, but it was pain lasted through the next day. I was able to walk on it without issue so I wasn't too concerned about an injury, but it was definitely tweaked.
Sore ankle or not, it was totally worth it. It's awesome and it iss a one of kind of experience. It's not every day you freefall from the 108th floor of a building. Not any building, the tallest tower west of the Mississippi. I was never nervous to jump. I never got butterflies. I missed the butterfly effect. I wasn't going to ride the Big Shot, but after the jump I needed it. I wanted to feel that level of andrenaline when you shoot up to the top and feel weightless before you freefall. Yes, what I'm saying is I find Big Shot more thrilling than SkyJump. Try 'em both and see what you decide. Locals receive a $20 discount; regular price is $109.99.