By Tim Gaynor
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A Norwegian man plunged about 1,000 feet to his death when his parachute failed to open after he struck a vertical cliff and spiraled out of control during a recreational "BASE" jump near the Grand Canyon, authorities said on Wednesday.
Eiliv Ruud, 37, was with two other BASE jumpers from Norway who were planning to jump at Salt Trail Canyon, in northern Arizona, on Tuesday, said the Coconino County Sheriff's Office.
BASE jumping is an activity in which participants leap off tall, static objects and use a parachute to break their fall. The term "BASE" is an acronym for "buildings, antennas, spans and earth."
"Mr. Ruud was the first one to jump, and the other two watched. When he had fallen a distance of about 500 feet, it appeared that a gust of wind blew him against the canyon wall," said sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair.
Ruud's parachute failed to deploy fully, and the contact "pretty much caused him to spiral down the rest" of the way, Blair said. Ruud was pronounced dead at the scene.
Salt Trail Canyon flanks the Little Colorado River, one of the largest tributaries of the Colorado River that flows through the Grand Canyon.
Blair said Ruud and the other Norwegian man and woman had previously visited the area, which is popular with BASE jumpers.
Blair said BASE jump fatalities in Coconino County were infrequent.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Lisa Shumaker)