Babu Sunuwar flies off Everest

Twenty-nine-year-old Nepali tandem paraglider pilot flies 20km+ cross country from summit of world’s highest mountain

Download and read the full story in Cross Country magazine, issue 138 (subscription required)

Hanuman Airlines – The DVD of the historic Everest flight

Babu Sunuwar on the summit of Everest 21 May 2011, shortly before his flight from the summit. The date stamp is 12 hours early. Photo: Babu Sunuwar/Lakpa Tshering Sherpa

Babu Sunuwar on the summit of Everest 21 May 2011, shortly before his flight from the summit. The date stamp is 12 hours early. Photo: Babu Sunuwar/Lakpa Tshering Sherpa

Tandem paraglider pilot Babu Sunuwar and experienced Everest climber Lakpa Tshering Sherpa have flown a tandem paraglider from the summit of Everest.

The successful flight was the first leg in a summit-to-sea attempt to fly tandem from Everest and then continue by paraglider, kayak and bike to sea level in Bangladesh.

According to their SPOT track the pair spent four days on their final ascent before flying off the top on Saturday 21 May 2011.

And rather than land at Everest base camp, they flew on to Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa town and mountain capital of the Everest region – a cross country flight of over 20km.

The climb and flight from Mount Everest – a 20km+ cross country by paraglider

The climb and flight from Mount Everest – a 20km+ cross country by paraglider

They landed at the Syangboche airstrip, which sits above Namche Bazaar at an altitude of 3,750m.

Babu and Lakpa climbed the mountain from the Nepal side along the classic South Col route. They then took off on the north side of the mountain, after going over the top and slightly down the other side. The flight then took them back across the Western Ridge and into the Everest basin.

A zoom of the south side of Everest showing the route up the South Col and take off

A zoom of the south side of Everest showing the route up the South Col and take off

From there they turned south-west and crossed the massive flank of 7,861m Nupste at well above 7,000m. They continued in a straight line, crossing above the summit of the popular 5,806m trekking mountain Pokalde Peak. From there their flight took them past Ama Dablam to the landing at Syangboche airstrip.

The landing at the Syangboche airstrip

The landing at the Syangboche airstrip

Babu, who is 29, was the pilot while 35-year-old Lakpa Tshering Sherpa was in the passenger seat.

The pair took off at 9.55am local time after completing their summit push under the light of a full moon on Friday 20 May. Setting out at 11pm they reached the summit nine hours later at 8.23am.

Babu Sunuwar on top of the world on 21 May 2011. This is Babu's updated Facebook profile pic - nice!

Babu Sunuwar on top of the world on 21 May 2011. This is Babu's updated Facebook profile pic - nice!

They then spent over an hour finding a launch site and preparing the wing. After launching the flight lasted 42 minutes and they landed at the airstrip over 5,000m below at 10.37am.

Speaking to Adam Hill, the owner of a tandem paragliding outfit in Nepal, later that day by phone Babu said the wind on the summit had been, “not too bad but also not too good.”

Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tshering Sherpa on the lower slopes of Everest in April this year. Photo: Babu Sunuwar

Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tshering Sherpa on the lower slopes of Everest in April this year. Photo: Babu Sunuwar

Babu, full name Sanubabu Sunuwar, is a tandem paraglider pilot for Blue Sky Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal. He was interviewed in issue 133 of Cross Country magazine where he described an 850km 30-day cross-Nepal tandem paragliding adventure in March 2010 that saw him fly from west to east across his home country.

He described thermals of 18m/s and being “completely engulfed” in freezing cloud for 25 minutes as he struggled to cross a valley.

An experienced pilot and kayaker he had not however been into the big mountains before – the highest peak he’d climbed before Everest was 6,400m. Lakpa Tshering however is an experienced high altitude climber who has climbed Everest at least five times.

The flight comes at the height of the Everest season in Nepal. The few days around 20/21 May each year are traditionally ‘summit days’ – when the ever-present Jet Stream lifts a little and allows a perfect weather window for Everest climbers, and in this case pilots.

A close up of the launch site on the northern flank of Everest, just below the summit

A close up of the launch site on the northern flank of Everest, just below the summit

Two other climber-pilots have been on the mountain this spring.

British woman Squash Falconer wanted to become the first solo woman to fly from the summit. She reached the top on 10 May but strong winds meant she didn’t fly.

And Brazilian Rodrigo Raineri reached the summit on 20 May but also did not fly.

Babu flies from above Namche Bazaar on the walk in. Photo: Babu Sunuwar

Babu flies from above Namche Bazaar on the walk in. Photo: Babu Sunuwar

The flight however is only the first part of an ambitious adventure for Babu and Lakpa. Their plan of ‘Summit to Sea’ includes climbing Everest, then flying off (tick and tick) before reaching the Sun Khosi river. They then plan to kayak the length of that before cycling through India to the coast.

Only three other people have flown from the summit of Everest. French alpinist Jean Marc Boivin did it first on a very basic glider in 1988; and tandem pair Claire Roche-Bernier and Roche Bertrand flew from the summit in 2001.

More details as they come through from Nepal – and a full write up of Babu’s amazing feat in the next issue of Cross Country magazine.

BABU’S SPOT TRACK:

Ultimate Descent/Everest Expedition


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40 Responses to “Babu Sunuwar flies off Everest”

  1. bimal adhikari
    May 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    We are Proud of u babu……………
    Team Nepal…

  2. bimal adhikari
    May 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    We r proud of u babu……………….Team Nepal Rock’s

  3. May 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    this is amazing feat of braver, all my great wishes and congratulations for this amazing young para-glider! lots in the year ahead!

  4. Lambrigger Sven
    May 22, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Whoo, congratulations Babu very ramro ….
    Bravo Babu super power!
    Well done this is the best advertising for Nepali Pilots!
    Lambrigger Sven

  5. Poonam
    May 23, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    Well done Babu!! For your courage and determination…

    and thanks for making us “Nepalese” proud!!!

  6. May 23, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Well done babu, i am sure that you made a lot of people proud. Peter

  7. May 23, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    CONGRATULATIONS BABU!!! You are an inspiration to the flying community! Iain

  8. lhakpa
    May 24, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    very good, i am proud of my very best friend , the hero of the mountain Lhakpa tshree sherpa (yeti) and his friend sanubabu sunuwar(hanuman) hero of the paraglide. good job guys. you guys climbed like a YETI and flew like HANUMAN.
    CONGRATULATION FROM ALL CALIFORNIAN SHERPA.

  9. Gyaljen
    May 24, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    Lakpa Tshering Sherpa, as well as Babu Sunuwar. They both deserve ‘Congratulation’ Without supporting each other, they couldn’t have made this event successful.

  10. May 24, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Congratulation Babu and Lhakpa to yours safe flight from summit to Shyanboche, and safe journey of further adventure to the sea.

  11. May 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    Many many congratulation for Babe and Lakpa, good luck for full expedition to sea also, lucking forward to see you guy’s soon …………

  12. May 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Nice work Babu. Can’t wait for the video.

  13. May 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    congratulations. babu aunque no te conozco, si que eres referente para el cross

  14. May 27, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    babu congratulation to you from bhuwan khaling rai.solukhumbu

  15. dag ivar hansen
    June 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    wish you guys all the good energy u need for your great task.

  16. Vijay
    June 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Wow!! Congratulations to Babu and Lakpa and all Nepalis on this awesome feat! Flying from the top of Everest in -18 C in all that wind must have been literally, spine chilling! :) Bravo!
    Regards,
    –Vijay
    from Bhaarata

  17. Lil
    June 7, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    We saw you fly in. Amazing.One of the highlights of our trip

  18. justin boyd
    June 10, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Way to go Babu and Lakpa! Amazing accomplishment, best of luck on the rest of your journey.

  19. prashant Shrestha
    August 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    congratulation bro ……………i need to more photos n video………….

  20. prashant Shrestha
    August 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    hi bro …………..how r u ……………i need to more photos n video ………………

  21. August 7, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Very good news and it is a new record for all the nepalese people/ Congratulation to both

  22. Mountain lovers Treks
    August 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    Well done babu you are the one for all of Nepalese making proud to Nepal Good luck i believed anly you can do in the world …. best of luck

  23. prem kuma sunuwar
    September 21, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    wow great Koich you are legend, we all sunuwar (Koich) very proud; bless you.

  24. Juhee Shah
    September 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Bravo!!!

  25. September 29, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    well done babu!!!!

  26. paul marchant uk
    September 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    Nice to have met you at st hilaire festival…the movie was epic ,,,,and the standing ovation after well deserved!!

  27. Ujjwal Rana
    October 2, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    First of all congratulation to Hanuman Airlines Teams. Without your each other cooperation you both could not have suceed. You both have make our country proud. Also congratulation for wining COUPA ICARE Top Prize to both of you.

  28. October 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Well done Babu Sunuwar Your good jod in upkeeping the world is great appreciated. pls update with video. thanks. Nabin.

  29. October 17, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    Nepali tara swagat tatha abhibadhan,nepaliharuko sir biswama uncho rakhna ra biswa jagatma chinauna gun athak prayas garnu bhayo thapailai hardik badhai sahit agami dinko lakcha prapta garna saflta ko suva-kamana

  30. dipendra
    October 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    nice one dai ihope is great to fly above everest

  31. November 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Please buy the CD and support a charitable cause NSPCC…

  32. niwass
    November 26, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    well done babu and lakpa

  33. susie rivard
    December 16, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    Congratulations! What an accomplishment. Would love to hear how the rest of the trip went!

  34. February 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Wou Congratulation for All success.

  35. sushil Adhikari
    February 29, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    well done Babu and Lakpa! U both are the mountains people. Congratulations!

  36. Hom sunuwar(dasucha)
    July 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Well done sanu babu koinch and lakpa for your brave job which means Nepal & Nepali always on the top.

  37. December 26, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    Well done Babu.

  38. December 26, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    You are brave

  39. mila
    June 7, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    we proud of Babu sunuwar :)

  40. bipin
    June 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    good job ! babu daai. u rocked the world…………………………

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