With a month to go before the start of the spring climbing season in the Himalaya, mountaineers across the globe are busy wrapping up their training and putting the finishing touches on their travel plans. Many of them will be heading to Everest, where they’ll attempt to climb to the highest point on the planet. That would be a big enough goal for most climbers, but for BASE jumper Joby Ogwyn, the summit will be just the start of what promises to be quite an adventure.
Ogwyn, who is amongst the best BASE jumpers and wingsuit pilots in the world, has announced his intentions to climb Everest and then fly from the 29,035-foot summit. To accomplish this feat, he’ll be carrying a specially designed wingsuit with him on his ascent. The suit has been built to not only protect him from the elements at the extreme altitude, but also perform well in the much thinner air.
This won’t be the first time that someone has flown off Everest. Last year, Russian BASE jumper Valery Rozov soared off of the mountain as well. But Rozov didn’t go all the way to the summit on his flight. Instead, he leapt from a height of 23,667 feet, which is more than 5000 feet lower than where Ogwyn hopes to go. Rozov’s flight set the record for the highest jump so far, but if Joby is successful, he’ll shatter that record.
As if climbing the tallest mountain on the planet – and then jumping off of it – wasn’t enough pressure, Ogwyn intends to make his flight while an audience watches on. His climb, and subsequent wingsuit flight, will be the subject of a special on the Discovery Channel later this spring. The plan is to air the flight live, although they’ll also have several lead-up episodes that will be televised first. Footage for those early episodes is already being shot, with an aim of giving audiences a taste of Joby’s preparation and planning. Presumably, more footage will be captured while he is on the mountain, with the series eventually culminating in the live flight.
Much like Felix Baumgartner’s record setting skydive from the edge of space in 2012, Ogwyn’s flight will be transmitted back to the audience by several cameras he’ll be wearing. This will give viewers a sense of what it is like to BASE jump off Everest and then fly back to Earth. It is sure to be quite a thrilling moment, with a fantastic view of the Himalaya.
Since Joby’s climbing schedule will be dictated by the weather and his ability to acclimatize to the altitude, Discovery can’t say yet when the live special will air. If all goes according to plan, the flight should take place sometime between mid- and late May. For now, we’ll just have to wait to see how things unfold.