Paraglider Captures First-Ever Legal Flight Off the Top of Mount Everest

A daredevil paraglider has made the first-ever legal flight off Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.

Pierre Carter leaped off close to the summit at an altitude of nearly 8,000 meters — about five miles — and cruised around the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas attached to his aircraft.

While the rest of his mountaineer company descended on foot, Carter reached speeds of 50 miles per hour, taking only 20 minutes to reach his destination — the small settlement of Gorakshep, which is at an altitude of 5,164 meters or about 3.2 miles.

The intrepid 56-year-old completed the feat on May 15 after successfully obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation from the Nepali authorities, according to the Himalayan Times.

Carter isn’t the first human to fly off Everest, but only three teams have previously achieved the amazing feat and he is the first to do so with express permission from the Nepali government. French alpinist and pilot Jean-Marc Boivin was the first person to fly a paraglider from Everest in 1988. Bertrand ‘Zebulon’ Roche and Claire Bernier made a tandem flight from the summit point in 2001. Ten years later in 2011, Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa became the first Nepali paragliders to jump off the Everest conducting a tandem flight. As such, Carter is only the second person to conduct a solo flight after French alpinist Jean-Marc Boivin.

An Ambitious Adventure

Carter undertook the mission as part of his ” Seven Summits Seven Flights” dream. He says he first conceived the idea to paraglide from the summit of the highest mountain on each continent, known as the seven summits, in 1998.

In 2000, Carter successfully climbed and flew off Elbrus and Aconcagua, the highest peaks in Europe and South America respectively. He has since completed Carstens Pyramind in Iran and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The South African climber was denied permission to fly off Denali in Alaska after authorities confiscated his gear, but did climb the highest peak in North America.

This leaves Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Mount Cook in New Zealand for Carter to fly from.

A blog post on Carter’s website about the Everest flight it describes how after arriving at Camp 2, Carter “caught a horrible virus.”

“Trying to overcome an illness at 7,000 meters is near impossible, and Pierre’s fever had him sleeping outside of his sleeping bag despite the temperature closing in at -15 degrees.”

After the Sherpas gave Carter a puff of rich oxygen, his spirits lifted and he reached Camp 4 on Friday, May 13. There he waited for the clouds to disperse and the winds to die down and then he set up his Nova Double Skin gliders and jumped off the South Col.