- An historical tribute to what use to be a hundred-year tradition
of cliff jumping, enjoying the La Jolla Rough Water Swim and
4th of July activities until it was outlawed.
Clam itself is a collection of cliffs located in La Jolla, CA.
The edges hang over the Pacific Ocean from which people jump
or dive off of. The reason it is called "The Clam"
is because the two main edges of the cliff stick out over the
water and round in the middle to form the shape of a clamshell.
Clam web site was created in 1997 by Will
Childers. The web site was created to commemorate what once
use to be a hundred-year tradition of cliff jumping and a beautiful
place to be enjoyed by many until 1993 when the no jumping law
started to be fiercely enforced. The cliffs are now taken over
by sea birds, which have defecated all over the cliffs. What
once use to be beautiful and brown now looks like a snowy Colorado
mountain peek, almost all white from sea bird feces.
Childers started enjoying the cliffs in 1984 when he was in
the 7th grade. Although he had snorkeled and researched the
cliffs to know what the depths of the jumps are, he had no professional
diving experience. In college he had taken a springboard diving
class and by the second semester had made the diving team. Although
he didn't pursue diving any further than college he continued
to jump the cliffs of La Jolla and anywhere else he could find.
"It's amazing how enjoyable cliff jumping is when you have
springboard experience under your belt. You have more confidence
knowing exactly the dynamics of yourself falling, making it
a much safer experience."
until 1993, when lifeguards started to heavily enforce a 30
years old no-jumping law, hundreds of people would congregate
at The Clam during the summertime. Some would cliff jump and
others would stick around for the entertainment. It was a giant
tourist attraction of La Jolla, similar to that of the Acapulco
cliff divers in Mexico.
Childers and Eric Lind are now trying to reopen
The Clam. They have started a web site dedicated to repelling
the no jumping law. More information can be found at TheClam.org.
are two primary reasons for repelling this law. One - The hundred-year
tradition of cliff jumping from The Clam should not be illegal.
Two - Statistics have shown that it's actually more dangerous
to have a no-jumping law in affect.
the law does not take into account is the thinking of an adolescent.
Although no one should dive off of a cliff until they have researched
the area and have had professional springboard training, they
still do. People are going to jump the cliffs, regardless of
safest time to jump at The Clam is in the summertime. The water
is warm, the visibility is better, there are no large swells
and there are lifeguards around. Unfortunately, because of the
no-jumping law, that means people are going to jump when it's
the least likely time to get caught. That means in the wintertime
or at night. Those are the two most dangerous times to jump
at The Clam.
one, there are no lifeguards around during those times. At night,
you might jump in the wrong place. During the wintertime, the
water is very cold and there are large swells. The only way
to get out of the ocean is to climb up a barnacle infested reef.
In the wintertime, its very hard to climb out because you will
get about 1/3 of the way out and a swell will hit the reef and
knock you back into the ocean. It can take about 5 - 8 attempts
to climb out before success. Because of the extremely cold waters
and the energy used trying to climb out, people can get hypothermia
and get tired to the point that they simply can't swim any longer
until 1993, only one person had died at The Clam. It was a man
who had jumped off of Dead Mans and died about 30 days after
his jump from internal injuries. After 1993 when the no-jumping
law startd to be heavily enforced, three people have died. All
three were in the wintertime and died not from jumping or diving,
but drowned in the turbulent ocean surf because they could not
climb out of the water.
seems counter intuitive to have people jumping and diving from
the cliffs in these dangerous times and not when lifeguards
are present. The no-jumping law should be repealed so that people
can jump more safely.
sports have some calculated risks involved. If you just haphazardly
do any sport without researching it, you will probably be injured.
If you just stuffed a parachute into a backpack and jumped out
of a plane without training, more than likely the chute won't
open and you'll probably be in some serious trouble. If someone
just picks up a skateboard and bombs down a hill without being
aware of speed wobbles and if they don't have tight trucks they'll
probably wind up crashing and hurting themselves very badly.
If someone goes rock climbing and planted the pro in the cliff
the wrong way and then slips, it's not going to hold them when
they fall. If someone just grabbed a hanglider and went for
it, they would most likely not know how to control it correctly
and crash. With all sports, some training and education is required,
the same goes with cliff jumping. It's important that one does
the research of the area, learns the tides and the depth of
the landing zone and practice jumping and diving techniques
in a pool to learn how to land properly to avoid injury.
reason cliff jumping is outlawed is because there is no or little
money to be made from it. All other sports require gear of some
sort. The sales of surfboards, wetsuits, parachutes, rope or
whatever equipment allows others to have the money to lobby
for their sport. Cliff jumping only requires a pair of shorts.
Because people and organizations can make money off of equipment
sales for their sport, they keep those sports legal. I propose
this question. In America, the land of the free, should a sport
or activity be illegal just because someone isn't making money
off of it?
the last 100 years or more, only 4 people have died at The Clam,
one of which was back in the 1930's. Last year alone in the
US, 42,000 people died on the highways of America from accidents.
People die all of the time participating in all kinds of sports
and activities. People get lost on hiking trips and die or get
severely injured from exposure or fall off of a cliff while
rock climbing or pulled out to sea from a riptide while swimming
in the ocean or...or...or. Why are those sports not outlawed?
It's unfair that cliff jumping is outlawed just because there
is no one making money off of it to be able to lobby it's cause.