At 29,030 feet above sea level, the world’s highest summit attracts a whole cavalcade of thrill seekers, outdoor enthusiasts and individuals set on achieving the personal goal of a lifetime.
Simply reaching the cruising level altitude above the Hillary step is not enough for some, as climbers used skis, snowboards, paragliders and base jumping equipment to descend nearly 12,000 feet to base camp in Nepal. Between all of the posturing for immorality and the bragging rights for “king of the mountain”, somehow, one of the most intriguing and breathtaking attempts to conquer the apex of the mountain was misplaced in the shuffle publicity stunts and the shadow cast by the aggressive marketing campaign of the energy drink that apparently gives the consumer “wings”.
Few knew that in 2005, French test pilot Didier Delsalle, was able to fly a helicopter into the rare air and dangerous winds reaching gusts of up to 186 mph, to the summit of Everest and was even able to make a landing in the snow and ice.
Delsalle flew a Eurocopter AS350 stripped down to the bare minimum flight requirements and successfully ascended into the lower reaches of the stratosphere, a level of the atmosphere usually populated by jet aircraft. The amazing flight, broke a series of world records and tested the limits of pilot and helicopter capabilities.
Verticalmag.com features this telling interview with Delsalle. Aided by supplemental oxygen as he gracefully hovered past the “kill zone”, where low air pressure and altitude sickness hampers climbers, fortunately Delsalle and team were able to document the daring feat with an array of camera angles, which captured the stirring vistas and ever present danger of the Himalayan mountains. Also, lost in the dusty vaults of history is that in the days of testing before the record attempt, he was able to rescue a pair of climbers from the mountain who were in need of emergency medical attention.
Here’s to you Mr. Desalle – The true king of the mountain skies.
WATCH: Desalle Land His Copter On Everest