There is a well known adage amongst mountaineers that says “getting to the summit is only halfway to the finish,” as obviously they have to safely come back down the mountain after they’ve completed their ascent. There are few places where this is more apparent than Mt. Everest, where climbers not only have to make a long, grueling trek to the top, they also have to negotiate a tricky descent as well. Over the weekend, two climbers found a way to avoid that descent however, by paragliding off the summit, bypassing all the challenges of a traditional return to Base Camp.
On Saturday, 29-year old Babu Sunuwar and his partner Lakpa Tshering Sherpa, 35, climbed to the summit of Everest. Once there, they assembled their tandem paraglider, and starting it up, both men stepped out into the nothingness that surrounds the highest point on the planet. Rather than plummeting a thousand feet to their deaths however, they took off on what must have been a spectacular flight through one of the most scenic places in the world.
Sailing through the air, Babu and Lakpa passed snow capped mountains on their 42-minute flight, which eventually deposited them at Namche Bazaar, a village in the Khumbu Valley region. Reaching that point would normally take climbers returning from the summit a minimum of three days, but these two avoided a long hike and were soon resting in a comfortable teahouse I’m sure.
Their adventure is far from over however. Having reached the highest point on Earth, they are now headed toward sea level by kayak and bike. Their eco-friendly journey will eventually end in Bangladesh in a few weeks time.
At the moment, there have been no photos released from this epic flight through the Himalaya. I’m hoping that at some point we might see some video footage though, as I’m sure the view was amazing. I’m also guessing that there were more than few other climbers who were jealous of their method of descent after seeing them take off from the summit as well.
[Photo Credit: Babu Sunuwar]