For the first time, a paraglider legally launches from the summit of Everest

(Kathmandu) “It was a great flight. Above, then through and below the clouds”: A South African paraglider took off for the first time legally near the summit of Everest, the world’s highest mountain, on an extremely rare flight last week.

Posted on May 24th

Pierre Carter, 55, flew from Everest’s South Col, around 8,000 meters above sea level, the expedition organizer said Tuesday. In total, only 20 minutes were needed to reach the village of Gorakshep, located at 5164 meters.

Weather conditions prevented him from taking off from the summit of Everest at 8,849 meters. “The higher you go, the more difficult the launch because the air pressure becomes more important and your wing doesn’t fly as easily,” Peter Carter told AFP.

This achievement is remarkable, according to Dawa Steven Sherpa of Asian Trekking, a Nepal-based expedition company interviewed by AFP: “This is the first time Nepal has granted a permit to fly its mountains”.

The experience, he says, should inspire more than one climber next season after Nepalese authorities appear open to allowing flights from the peaks of the Himalayas.

In fact, only three flights from Everest have been recorded so far, all without government approval.

The first, French mountaineer and pilot Jean-Marc Boivin, paraglided from the summit in 1988. In 2001, a French couple had mimicked him in tandem, a feat repeated ten years later by two Nepalese climbers.

“Authorities now see that this can boost the tourism industry in Nepal, especially in the wake of COVID-19,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa.

The country only reopened its peaks to mountaineers last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carter isn’t on his first try. He began climbing as a teenager and quickly became interested in paragliding, a discipline in which he later multiplied his successes.

Since 2005, he has climbed five of the seven highest peaks on different continents, starting with Mount Elbrus in Russia.

In 2016, Carter scaled Denali, Alaska but was not cleared to fly. His next goal would be to repeat the feat on Mount Vinson in Antarctica.

At least three climbers, including a Russian and two Nepalese, have died attempting to climb Everest since the start of the season.

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