South African mountaineer Pierre Carter became the first person to legally paraglide from Mount Everest, according to a recent article, an English-language daily newspaper published and distributed in Nepal.
Although his French colleague Jean-Marc Boivin was the one who starred, in 1988, in the first paragliding flight over the highest peak in the world, while the French couple Bertrand “Zebulon” Roche and Claire Bernier did it in 2000, and in 2011, Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa became the first Nepalese paragliders to achieve this feat, all of them doing so illegally, as none of them were authorized by the Nepalese government, as Carter achieved it for the first time in history.
Carter: passionate about heights
“ It was a beautiful flight down. Above the clouds and then through the clouds and down,” Carter told France 24. “ Once you’re in the air, it’s all relative. But takeoff is always difficult the higher you are because your glider doesn’t want to fly that easily,” he added.
Under the terms of his permit, Carter was not allowed to paraglide from the top of the 8,848-meter-high mountain, so he had to take off from 7,925 meters. More specifically, from the South Col, a ridge that connects Everest with Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world, he jumped, recording his wonderful descent, with a special 360º video camera.
During the paragliding flight, he managed to display a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour and, after just 20 minutes, landed in the Nepalese village of Gorak Shep, which is located at an altitude of 5,163 meters and 6 kilometers from the Everest base camp.
Although Carter had initially planned to climb to the top of Mount Everest and then descend to the South Col before paragliding the rest of the way, bad weather conditions and a brief altitude sickness forced him, on the fly, to have to change plans.
“When you’re flying at that altitude it’s not the weather where you are. It’s the weather where you are, the weather halfway up the mountain, and the weather where you’re going to land,” Carter told.
A lover of mountaineering since he was very young, in 1998 Carter starred in his first great feat in paragliding by flying from the Seven Summits of the world, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents of the world.
He also successfully climbed and paraglided from Mount Elbrus and Aconcagua -the highest peaks in Europe and South America, respectively-, as well as from Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania; the Carstensz Pyramid, in Indonesia, and Mount Kosciusko, in Australia.
With Mount Everest already conquered and authorized by the Nepalese government, now his next big challenge is paragliding from Mount Vinson in Antarctica. “Although I would also like to be able to climb and fly from Mount Cook in New Zealand,” Carter concluded.