Who hikes up the sixth tallest mountain on the planet, gets to a precipice above 25,000 feet and thinks, well this looks like a good spot to jump off? Russian BASE jumper Valery Rozov, that's who.
This month the seasoned 51-year-old daredevil set a world record for the highest BASE jump ever, launching himself from a snowy perch on the side of Cho Oyu in the Himalayas. Rozov set the previous record in 2013 at Mount Everest, hiking from base camp to 23,687 feet on the mountain's north side with a team of Sherpas before taking the leap. Planning and preparation for that feat took two years.
This time he ascended higher on neighboring Cho Oyu, which means "turquoise goddess" in Tibetan. Although some climbers have called this mountain "easy" among 8,000-meter peaks, Rozov and his expedition team encountered weather so bad that it set the attempt back by a week, according to his sponsor, Red Bull.
Once the snow had cleared, Rozov returned to the exit spot he'd picked on the mountain's southwest wall at a towering height of 25,262 feet. Not long after changing from his mountaineering gear into his blazing blue wingsuit and donning a helmet cam, Rozov jumped.
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For a moment he resembled a bright blue kite. He free fell for a whole minute and a half, opened his parachute, and continued to fly downward, landing in a great snowy bowl around 19,600 feet above sea level. His wide smile for the camera afterward said it all.
Including weather delays, the entire expedition took 21 days.
The word "legend" gets tossed around a lot in extreme sports, but Rozov is well on his way to that status. The guy has more than 10,000 jumps to his name and I definitely don't have enough fingers to list off all his records and firsts. Besides Everest, he became the first person to BASE jump from Kilamanjaro, the Matterhorn, and the dizzying south wall of the Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc massif. Sure beats having to climb down.