Skydiving from the highest peak-world record set by High and Wild
KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Three skydivers in Nepal- Holly Budge, Wendy Smith and Neil Jones- made the first ever parachute jump over Mount Everest-setting the world record for the skydiving from the highest peak and for landing on the world's highest drop zone at 12,350ft (3,764m).
Photo: An Everest Skydive team member leaps from an aircraft / AFP ( enlarge photo )
The daring adventurers -- Britain's Holly
, New Zealand's Wendy Smith
and Canada's Neil
-- took 10 minutes to land on Syangboche, the world's
highest drop zone at 12,870 feet (3,761 metres).
"To be on top of the world was simply stunning," Smith said.
The adventurers set a skydiving world record by making the freefall from a Pilatis Porter that was flying at nearly 29,500 ft (8,900 metres) to the northwest of 27,000ft (8,848-metre) Everest, Krishna Aryal, an official at Explore Himalaya , was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.
The skydivers faced sub zero temperatures and changing weather when they jumped in front of Everest to touch down in the foothills of the mountain.
Organizers say the jumpers are using oxygen masks, along with parachutes that are much larger than normal to help them cruise and descend through the thin, freezing air.
The daredevil adventurers -- from Britain, New Zealand and Canada -- said they had magnificent views as they rocketed past the world's highest peak.
Photo: An Everest Skydive team member prepares to land at Shyangboche airport / AFP
"It was amazing, just spectacular," Holly Budge told AFP by telephone after making a safe landing at 3,900 metres (12,870 feet).
"We had one minute of freefall and while we were above the clouds you could see Everest and the other high mountains popping out of the top."
The skydivers faced sub zero temperatures and fast changing weather when they jumped in front of Everest to touch down in the foothills of the mountain.
The trip, organised by British adventure travel company High and Wild , has cost 32 clients around 24,000 dollars each.
"It was worth the money. It is something that has never been done before," said Budge, a 29-year-old British camerawoman who has completed 2,500 skydives and who jumped to raise money for charities in Britain and Nepal.
The skydivers experience nearly a minute of free-fall before opening their chutes and landing at a flat drop zone.
Due to the thin air, their parachutes were three times the size of regular ones, and the jumpers used oxygen tanks strapped to their waists.
They also wore neoprene undersuits and thermal gear to keep out the freezing temperatures as they leapt out at about 8,940 metres (29,500 feet).
Photo: Canadian skydiver Neil Jones plummets to earth during a parachute jump over Mount Everest this week. Pic: courtesy of Neil Jones ( enlarge photo )
The suits worn by the skydivers during the Everest Skydive was locally made by a young Thamel based Nepali entrepreneur, Rajen Dulal.
"The organisers have brought a plane over from Switzerland, and the permits have been very expensive, as has getting everyone to the jump site," said Budge.
The oldest client slated to make the jump in the coming days is Alan Walton, a 72-year-old British partner in a bioscience company, organiser Nigel Gifford said.
"Although many are very experienced, others are making their first ever skydive and will be going in tandem with experts," said Gifford, whose company has permission to operate in the area for another 13 days.
The "Everest Skydive" is an event that has been 15 years in the making for Gifford. "It came about because I have been a Himalayan mountaineer and took up skydiving. I love doing both and I thought it would be good to marry the two," he said.
New Zealand's Edmund Hillary and Nepal's Tenzing Norgay were the first to successfully climb Mount Everest's 8,850-meter peak 55 years ago.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008
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