Skydivers complete Everest leap

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A group of skydivers has completed the first parachute jump over the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.

The three adventurers, from the UK, New Zealand and Canada, enjoyed a minute-long freefall after jumping from about 9,000m (29,500ft).

The trip took 15 years to plan and cost each jumper about $24,000 (£13,500). After doing the jump, Briton Holly Budge said it was worth the money.

There are now 29 other members of the group waiting to do the leap.

“It was amazing, just spectacular,” Ms Budge told the AFP news agency by telephone after making a safe landing.

“We had one minute of freefall and while we were above the clouds you could see Everest and the other high mountains popping out of the top.”

The skydives were originally scheduled to be carried out on Friday but were delayed by thick cloud.

The jumpers had to use breathing equipment, extra-thick parachutes and special suits to deal with the thin air and sub-zero temperatures.

They also trekked in the region before the jump to get used to high altitudes.

Expedition leader Nigel Gifford says the people of the Everest region have got used to the idea, and that they are relating it to a Buddhist holy man said to have jumped over the Himalayas.

“It came about because I have been a Himalayan mountaineer and took up skydiving. I love doing both and I thought it would be good to marry the two,” he said.