Last week was the 60th anniversary of the first successful summit attempt of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and his sherpa Tenzing Norgay. A lot has changed in 60 years and Everest is still viewed by many as the pinnacle of mountain climbing. After all, it is still the tallest mountain in the world. However, according to some seasoned climbers and adventurers, in the 60 years since Hillary and Tenzing sat atop Everest’s summit, the mountain, and the process of climbing it, seem to have lost some of its romanticism. Long queues to ascend to the summit, a landscape littered with oxygen bottles and other climbing debris, fights between sherpas and climbers, the pressure of high dollar paying clients and more recently, a controversial proposal to set up a ladder bridging one of the more technical sections of the mountain, the Hillary Step, thus increasing the mountain’s accessibility to “idiots who don’t know a crampon from a tampon” have turned Everest into somewhat of a sideshow. According to our friends The Adventurists, “These days Sagarmāthā is a parade of lemmings blindly following each-other to the summit for the obligatory photo before shuffling back from whence they came… someone should tell the folks still climbing it that they needn’t bother.” We would tend to agree, but then along comes a crazy Russian who puts a completely new spin on Everest. If your goal is to climb Everest, only to then jump off it, we say go right ahead, that’s awesome.
Photo: Red Bull
A few days after the 60th anniversary, while long lines still snaked up the slopes of Everest, Russian extreme sports nut and Red Bull aerialist Valery Rozov leapt off the north face of Mount Everest . At 7220 meters (23,688ft) above sea level it is now the world’s highest BASE jump. OK, he was still a few thousand feet below the summit of Everest, but when you jump off a ledge more than 4 miles above sea level, who cares. Rozov may not have made it to the summit, but his outside the box thinking, bravery and the sheer craziness of trying to fly in a wingsuit in such thin air make it more memorable in our humble opinion. Between Rozov and Felix Baumgartner, its been a busy six months for Red Bull daredevils. Maybe that stuff really does give you wings.
A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is thousands of pictures, well, you get the point…