In the French Alps, a granite spire known as Le Trident du Tacul towers some 800 feet above the Glacier du Geant. Though beautiful, it’s not the typical spot for a birthday celebration. But Tim Howell, a former British Royal Marines commando, wanted to ring in turning 28 with something a bit more thrilling than a round of pints.

The accomplished BASE jumper has leaped off bridges, amusement-park rides, and a Portuguese cliffside chapel. Above all, though, he relishes venturing into the backcountry to reach natural launch points, such as Le Trident du Tacul, which offers views of the 12,440-foot La Tour Ronde.

“I think the reward is always a lot more satisfying when the challenge is greater,” Howell says.

Along for the multipitch climb up the steep spire that August day was photographer Hamish Frost, who dangled from a rope a few yards below the takeoff point, waiting for the right moment to capture Howell’s birthday leap.

“I wanted him in free fall as he went past me,” Frost says. “I hoped I’d catch him in frame. There wasn’t much chance of asking him to jump again.”

If you’re a big BASE jumper (or just enjoy spectating), check out this 4,000 foot jump


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