#126 | Snorting The Ashes Of The Dead: An Unproductive Conversation w/ Tom Aiello

In this episode, I speak with Tom Aiello, founder and lead instructor at the Snake River BASE Academy. Tom has travelled all around the world pursuing his passion of BASE jumping, and in this episode he shares his rich depth of experience and knowledge, as well as some truly fascinating and engrossing stories well worth listening to.

In this wide-ranging conversation, Tom shares some the numerous experiences he has had in his years of traveling the world. One example, among many others, is the experience he shares of BASE jumping at the legendary Sótano de las Golandrinas (Cave of the Swallows) in the jungles of Mexico, “the largest known cave shaft in the world and the second deepest pit in Mexico. The cave gets its name from the green parakeets and white-collared swifts that live along its walls. Each day the birds fly in concentric circles up the cave shaft before the flocks come spilling out of the of the hole into the jungle.”* Tom also shares some very interesting stories involving the (mis)adventures of other BASE jumpers (including a story about snorting the ashes of a deceased BASE jumper in a diner in rural Oregon, just to give an example). 

Tom and I touch on a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to an examination of: the very diverse subcultures that exist within the broader global BASE jumping culture; the pros and cons of mixing drugs (psychedelic or otherwise) with BASE jumping (and other novel experiences); the diverse, eclectic, and fascinating individuals that make up the BASE jumping subcultures Tom has spent time with; the camaraderie and tribal qualities that exist within the world of BASE jumping. 

I’m very thankful Tom was willing to have this kind of conversation with me, for being open and willing share these experiences for this episode. This episode is an "Unproductive Conversation,” a label intended to convey to the listener that this conversation is free-form, both in its structure and in the topics discussed.

*Source: bit.ly/caveofswallows

Episode Notes:

- Tom was featured in episode #87 of the podcast, titled “Snake River BASE: Higher Education For Lower Free Fall.” To learn more about Tom’s backstory, as well as learn more about Tom’s BASE academy, listen here: https://bit.ly/2LEJO3A

- You can learn more about the Snake River BASE Academy at the website: http://snakeriverbase.com

- The song featured in this episode is “Face Tat” by Zach Hill from the album Face Tat.