18th Feb 2010 - Adventures over Everest

A new record for the world’s highest landing was set and then broken again almost immediately. British adventure filmmaker Leo Dickinson achieved an 18-year old ambition to skydive over Everest, having almost made an emergency jump in 1991 when he wasn’t sure if the balloon he was piloting would clear the summit (it did). Leo returned in September 2009 and jumped from 20,000 feet out of an Esqirrel B2 helicopter, setting down his 300 sqft Navigator parachute at 16,800 feet at Gorak Shep, a dried up lake bed near Everest base camp. British instructor Ralph Mitchell and Wing Commander Ramesh Tripathi, an Indian, made the jump with Leo, who is now offering to arrange skydiving expeditions in this area, see skydivemounteverest.com

A month later an entirely separate group of Everest veterans, Wendy Smith and Tom Noonan, set a new world record by landing at Kala Pathar, at 17,192 feet. Wendy and Tom were both part of the 2008 Everest adventure, which achieved a world first skydiving in this area, as reported in December 2008’s Mag. Wendy, who is an Australian Safety Officer & Instructor, has put a project team together aiming to offer skydives over Everest with a completely different approach. Her organisation, Everest Skydive, is now working with Explore Himalaya, to use as many Nepalese personnel and services as possible, to benefit the local economy.

Everest Skydive ran a 22-day extensive operation in October 2009, with a specialised crew of 20 qualified personnel. They made several successful skydives (solo and tandem) over Everest, landing at Syangboche DZ, as per the 2008 expedition. Though Wendy and Tom jumped into the record books at Kala Pathar as a one-off they considered this area too dangerous for tandem or commercial sport jumping.

Everest Skydive has trained Nepalese pilots and dropzone staff, whose education continues this year with four Nepalese skydivers working at dropzones worldwide, with the aim that eventually skydiving over Everest can be Nepali run.

everest-skydive.com

Everest Skydive jumps will help Global Angels, a charity run by Molly Beddingfield to help children in Nepal and Asia.

globalangels.org

Photo: Wendy Smith, Chief co-ordinator of skydiving operations for Everest Skydive, before setting her World Record, by Gorakh Bista

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