There are plenty of spectacular (some might say crazy) activities for thrill seekers in this wonderful planet of ours. Swimming with great white sharks in South Africa, for instance. Or cycling down the Camino del Muerte, or ‘Death Road’, in Bolivia. Others love the buzz of snowboarding off piste high up on a vertiginous peak, or climbing solo on equally dizzying overhangs. But I’ve just found out about a new challenge, which might just pip the lot…
Everest Skydive it’s called. Yes, you did read that correctly. A skydive over Everest. Incredible, huh.
‘The ultimate skydive experience’ – and you can’t really disagree – is being offered by Captive Adventure, a new company looking to create once-in-a-lifetime adventures for the adventurous spirited. The company were set up after the great success of ‘The Everest Test’ in 2009, the world’s highest game of cricket… proving just how extraordinarily dedicated and barmy cricket fans and players can be.
For this expedition they’ve teamed up with World Record breaking adventurer, Nigel Gifford OBE (who scaled Everest as a climber in 1976 and organised the first ever Everest skydive in 2008), for what they hope will be the first of a series of adventure experiences… I wonder what they’ll do to top this!
The trip (www.skydive-everest.com) runs from 30 September to 12 October 2010. After a five-day acclimatisation trek through the Khumbu Valley the daredevil expedition members will take their leap of faith from a Pilatus Porter P6 Turbine aircraft at 29,500 feet – the cruising height of most passenger aircraft – from within 6 miles of the top of Mount Everest. They’ll drop at speeds of up to 140mph before landing on the highest drop zone in the world, Syangboche, at 12,000 feet above sea level… higher than the total jumping height of most ‘normal’ skydives.
Superlatives abound with this sensory overload of a lifetime.
The 8,848-metre-high mountain – Sagarmartha as its known by Nepalis – will be in full view for expedition members as they enjoy 60 seconds of free-fall (compare this to the usual 10-20 seconds for most jumps). Then, parachutes safely open, the skydivers will be able to savour a gentle descent amidst some of the highest mountains on the planet.
It’s not just for experts. Beginners are welcome to take part and will skydive in tandem with a leading skydiver from the Swiss Boogie Skydiving Team.
It doesn’t come cheap. A solo jump costs £15,250 (roughly $23,290 US) and the tandem skydive is £20,000 (around $30,500 US), with a portion of the fee donated to local charities in Nepal.
But a fair price, you might say, for a snapshot of the fear, challenge and sense of achievement that Everest has provided for so many climbers over the years.
The ultimate high in every sense.