Catching up with… Keith Forsyth

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Some people are on the edge of crazy…

Keith Forsyth, photo by Dan Dupuis

Researching for this interview wasn’t easy as Keith’s not exactly a ‘social media’ person… but for sure it was interesting!

He’s the kid of a skydiver (the best ones always are, it seems!) originally from Eastern Washington and has way more skill than you would expect from his age and jump numbers. Friends say that he has put in the time in the tunnel, did cross-training sports like paragliding and climbing and mountaineering, got really good at flying wingsuits and free flying and he can hold his own in a belly formation too. Not a bad business card in the sport…

It was a pleasure to catch up with this guy…

Hi, Keith. Just to start… how many jumps – base and skydive – what type, how long in the sport?

  • 3000 skydives – 9 years
  • 200 base jumps – 5 years
  • 1000 speedflying/ paragliding flights – 7 years 
Following Team One Call over Gudvangen Fjord during Extremsportveko
Photo by Keith

Home drop zone?

When I was 17 my dad took my brother and I to do our first jump in 2011 at Skydive Kapowsin, and I’ve been jumping there since. It’s still my favorite DZ out there. I feel super lucky to call Skydive Kapowsin my home DZ. There is such a unique and special community there, the staff and community do a really good job of bringing in the newer jumpers and helping them progress.  

From his first jump out here at Skydive Kapowsin he was a natural”

Hitching a ride… taken to a whole new level…
Keith docking with Mike Patey and his Draco
Photo by @savagesac

Please list your base and skydiving achievements, claims to fame

I don’t know if there are any that I would call achievements but there are certainly a lot of moments that stand out. Some of my favorites were filming Red Bull Aces, competing in WOWS (wide open wingsuit series), flying with Draco (a heavily modified bush plane), and doing XRW over fjords in Norway during Extremsportveko. 

What do you do for a living?

I build camper vans for a conversion company in Washington state called Momentum Vans. I focus primarily on the van layout, cabinetry, and finish work. I’ve always enjoyed designing and building so it’s been really nice to be working in a shop again. 

Keith’s camper – a swish life on the road

Do you have a camper van of dreams then? What do you do with it?

Yeah, I have one that I built out prior to doing it professionally, I’ve slowly kept modifying it over the years. I’ve done a lot of road trips around the Western United States and British Columbia. It’s so nice to be able to travel with not only a place to sleep, but your whole quiver of gear. 

What other sports do you do? 

I really enjoy a variety of climbing, ski mountaineering, bike touring, basically anything to get outdoors. 

Leading the second pitch of Wicked Wanda in the Ghost River Wilderness Area in the Canadian Rockies, photo by Harry Birt

Do you feel that your BASE jumping has benefitted from your participation in other mountain sports?

I think a lot of the mountain sports are very tightly connected, there’s tons to learn from each. Just a few of these being micro meteorology, training, and taking a systematic approach to preparing and executing an objective. It’s really neat to see how each activity still has a unique community and approach to their endeavor. There is so much to be learned from participating in a variety of activities.

How did tunnel flying helped you with the rest of your skydive and BASE activities?

I didn’t start tunnel flying until I had over 1000 skydives. After I started I was amazed at how much it helps to develop a solid base in learning how to fly your body in a variety of configurations. I’ve found that dynamic tunnel flying translates really well to dynamic wingsuit flying and building a comfort level to fly a wingsuit at a variety of angles.  

Keith enjoying some XRW with Tommy Miller
Photo by Stephen Megison

How did your DZ influence you? What is it like to grow up around people like Andy Farrington?

Learning and working at Kapowsin has been such a huge factor in my skydiving progression and a lot of the opportunities that I’ve gotten to do in and out of skydiving. The style of teaching and learning that I learned from Andy and others at Kapowsin is something that I’ve tried to apply to other sports and aspects of life. 

What was the most interesting/challenging skydiving related project you’ve been involved with so far?

Without a doubt Red Bull Aces, that was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It was amazing to be able to jump with so many people from all over the world that I had looked up to for so long. The fact that I got to film them racing around helicopters was something else. 

When I setup Red Bull ACE’s wingsuit comp I ask Keith if he wanted to compete or fly video. It was funny to see him flying around getting the shot from any angle he wanted while most of the pilots were going as fast as they possible could. He did not care about the glory of competing just the fact that the video slot got him more flights on the course then anyone else that year”

Racing around the pylons in Red Bull Aces
Photo by Keith Forsyth

Why did Luke Aikins choose you to fly camera for the Red Bull Aces? How was the experience?

That’s a good question, I’m not really sure. But I’m really glad he did. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that at the time Matt Gerdes, Mike Steen, and Andy Farrington were doing a lot of testing and preparation for the competition at Kapowsin. And I had been trying to commit all my spare time chasing them down in an attempt to learn their secrets. Maybe Luke saw my interest in racing and decided to give me a chance at an amazing opportunity. 

Keith is genuinely awesome. One of the best people in the sport. I remember, during the 2016 Red Bull Aces, him being the subject of many murmurs in the competition, most people feeling happy that he wasn’t IN because he would have been mostly unbeatable without a camera on his head”

Keith and friends flying a tight stack
Photo by Chris Mort

How have your goals changed over the past few years? What keeps your interest in skydiving? 

I’ve been focusing a lot more of my energy towards climbing and paragliding these days. Recently I find the most rewarding trips to be those where I can creatively incorporate a variety of sports together in different environments. Organizing, planning, and executing these trips creates a really engaging challenge technically, mentally, and physically. Especially in the Western United States and Canada I think there is tons of potential for exploration by combining flying and climbing in unique ways. 

As for skydiving I still really enjoy jumping occasionally, but I’d say what I enjoy most these days is filming and teaching others. 

Day 5 rope soloing Mescalito on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley
Photo by Tom Evans

What’s more fun for you…

Tunnel or sky?

Sky, the freedom to move across the sky is unbeatable. 

BASE or skydiving? 

BASE, but skydiving is a close second. It really comes down to being outside and spending time in the mountains. 

Wingsuit or freefly? 

Wingsuit, I really like the ability to move across the sky and cover ground. 

Carving around freefly tubes with Sebastian Alvarez
Photo by Craig O’Brien

What’s your favorite skydiving or base moment of all time?

My favorite base moment is from a recent trip last fall. I spent ten days rope-soloing a big wall in California, followed by a sunset wingsuit jump over the valley. 

Describe yourself in 5 words or less

I like to be outside. 

Tell us a quirky fact about yourself, something people don’t know

I really enjoy sewing and making my own gear. 

Speedriding Mount Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah

I understand you like modifying and designing gear, tell us about that

I’ve always really enjoyed designing and making gear for myself. As I’ve gotten more into adventure sports I’m intrigued by all the various systems involved and how they came to be. It’s amazing how basically all the gear we use today from skydiving, BASE, skiing, to climbing was more or less originated by someone having an idea and then designing and constructing their own gear. I think as larger companies have developed over the years that’s something that is sometimes forgotten. So, I’ve always made a point to modify the gear others have made or make my own to better suit my needs. More often than not it’s more time consuming, costly, and a step in the wrong direction. But every now and then something starts to click and without all those failures progress would never be made. 

Describe a perfect day in your world

The perfect day? Let’s see, nice alpine start, not too early though. Up around 4:00 AM, quick eggs, oatmeal, and coffee to get started. Then on the trail soon after. Couple mishaps on the approach whether a wrong turn, some tough climbing, you know, something to keep it interesting. Then a beautiful sunrise flight back to the valley. After a fun morning mission then off the DZ for a day of jumping or into the mountains for some XC paragliding or climbing. Then wrap up the day with a cold IPA and some stretching. Something along those lines. 

Swooping the good ol’ Xaos at Skydive Perris

Who’s been the biggest influence on your life?

My parents, I’ve been incredibly fortunate of how supportive my parents have been from one idea to the next. I’m always inspired by how active, creative, and hardworking they are.  

What’s your pet hate? Inside and outside the sport

Slow people; walking in slow crowds, people taking too long to pack, people climbing slow, people flying their wingsuit too slow, you know, slow people. 

How are you coping with lockdown, what is keeping you sane? 

I’m definitely more of an introvert so it hasn’t affected me as much as others. I’ve been spending a lot more time at work, working on personal projects, and reading.  

Looking back at Split Mountain in the Eastern Sierras after a winter ascent
Photo by Kia Ravanfar

Who are your sponsors?

Squirrel and Velocity Sports Equipment

Anything you would like to add?

Here are a couple of videos below. You can also check some trip reports I’ve done. Hope you like them :).

Just a bit of XRW fun
Exploring the Wasatch and more with friends

If you want to know more about Keith’s adventures you follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Vimeo.

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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