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Russian base jumper flies from 7,700m in the Himalayas for a world's first.
For three years, Valery Rozov had dreamt of base jumping off the Himalayan mountain Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world.
And for 21 days, Rozov battled to his take-off point before pitching himself off a ledge at 7,700 metres and spiralling to the ground for 90 seconds in what is a world first in the discipline.
It was also a world record - although unratified - for base jumping, breaking the previous highest mark of 7,220m set by Rozov himself in 2013 from Changtse in the Everest Massif.
For the 51-year-old, it proved a particularly poignant expedition, which he dedicated to renowned climber and close friend, Alexander Ruchkin, who died tackling a climb in Peru last year.
Three years ago, Rozov and Ruchkin had been climbing together when the idea was born.
“It was my dream and my goal for the last three years since I found a new exit spot on the top of the south west wall,” said Rozov, still breathless from his jump and the altitude at his 6,000m landing point.
“Now that I’ve pulled it off I’m very happy I was able to make this jump not because it’s a world record or because it’s a personal athletic achievement for me but also as commemoration for my late friend Alexander Ruchkin with whom we were scouting locations for this jump three years ago.”
Conditions were such that the Russian’s aspirations were in danger of being quashed altogether at one point. Part of a larger group going all the way to the very peak of the 8,201m climb, while Rozov, his cameraman and two sherpas peeled off to the appointed ledge, their first attempt was cancelled at the point of jumping off a week earlier because of too much snow.
“We had to come back after one week when the snow had melted and we were then able to finish our work,” the base jumper explained after the venture on the China-Nepal border.
At the second time of asking, Rozov plunged into the ravine with a 1-2-3 countdown in his native tongue filmed with cameras on the front and back of his helmet as he plummeted towards the ground with the wind whistling viciously in his ears for a minute and a half before opening his parachute and making a perfect landing at the team’s designated spot on the glacier below.
He marked completion of his lengthy quest, which took place on 5 October, with a high five to his ground crew and wagged a solitary finger as a nod to his venture being a world’s first and what Rozov called “a new world record for base jumping above altitude at sea level”.
Rozov, backed by FXTM, had prepared for his record attempt with a series of jumps in France and the Dolomites, and by climbing the 5,750m Mount Pisco in Peru.
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