Drama in the High Skies – Shyangboche Drop Zone, Everest Region
(Photos: Wendy Smith)
Klaus Leo Michael Gachter from United States is no stranger to Nepal. He has been to Nepal several times and had visited Khumbu thirty years for the rebuilding of the Tengboche Monastery. According to him he was amazed to see the changes in Khumbu since his last visit.
Klaus, who is in his 70s, jumped tandem from a height of 21,000 feet & 27,000 feet during the skydiving (Everest Skydive 2010) event held at Shyangboche drop zone. He is one of the oldest Everest Skydive member to skydive from this height. Explore Himalaya salutes this adventurous soul. A few minutes before his departure, we got to meet and talk to him at Radisson Hotel. He seemed delighted with his skydiving experience and plans to come back next year.
Klaus Leo Michael Gachter
Excerpts from the interview:
EH:How do you feel after skydiving in the Everest region?
Klaus: I feel great and it was an awesome experience. I really hope I will do it again next year.
EH: Is this your first visit to Nepal?
I have been to Nepal six or seven times. But I have not been trekking for the last thirty years ,so it was quite different in Khumbu. I visited Khumbu thirty years ago when I went to Tengboche to initiate the rebuilding of the monastery and Khumbu has totally changed .Then it was all tents, now its all lodges and it is much more comfortable.But trekking is much hader now as you are thirty years older…
EH: What are your views about skydiving in Nepal?
Klaus: I think you can’t do this anywhere else. I think its nowhere as challenging and that’s why I have done it and I enjoyed it tremendously and I wanna do it again.The Himalayas are absolutely amazing. When you view Mount Everest from the top of the viewpoint there, it takes your breathe away!
Skydiving- it takes a certain type of people to do it. I have skydived 40 years ago, but only about a hundred jumps and so in the meantime I totally stopped till this event . But another thing is, I have enjoyed it so much that I will take new lessons in the States when I get back. I plan to come back to Nepal again.
EH: We believe you are involved in charity work.Can you tell us more about this?
Klaus: I am already involved in charity with three organizations in Nepal for the last 20 years, actually since 1981. Nick (Leventis) has just given me an idea during this trip, to maybe do the next jump also as a fund raising event. I don’t know yet how I can work this out but I think it will be an opportunity to take.
After setting a new skydiving record at Shyangboche, Nick Leventis flew back to Kathmandu. Explore Himalaya caught up with the British racing pro at the Radisson Hotel to find out more about his skydiving experience and his fund raising endeavors for charity.
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EH: How are you feeling after Everest Skydive?
Nick Leventis: I feel good. I feel very good. We had a few tough days and the weather was not too favorable. But that’s the mountains and I am really happy I got the record this morning. I think a lot of hard work by Explore Himalaya went in to make this possible. I am really happy that we could get it done today and we could set a new altitude record in the Himalayas.
EH: Is this your first time in Nepal?
NL: First time in Nepal, but its definitely not going to be my last. I think I am gonna come back next year for sure and try and do something even more outrageous and try and raise more money to give back to Nepal.
EH: In your first visit to Nepal you got to see Mount Everest up close. How did you feel?
NL: Amazing, absolutely amazing. To be up so close, It was amazing to see the mountains, the views. It was just so incredible and for me, it’s a part of my heart now. I wanna come back next year and even the year after.
EH: What are your views about skydiving in Nepal?
NL: I think it’s great, I think it’s very challenging! I think it’s definitely not for beginners but I think it’s a trip of a lifetime. I think skydiving in the Himalayas, especially around Mount Everest is fantastic. Not only just the skydiving but also the trek up to the Shyangboche area. You know there’s so much history and such amazing views and amazing culture, that you really feel a part of the country. The whole trip has been an amazing experience!
EH: As a racing professional, how do you find skydiving different from racing?
I have been racing my whole life and it’s my career. So for me it comes very easily. Skydiving is something new for me but I definitely think I am gonna be doing more of it.
EH: Are you planning to get involved in more charity works in Nepal?
Next year I have got a project with Ryan. But we are just gonna go home now and try and get as much TV coverage as we can. I would definitely like to come next year and do a documentary on myself and Ryan, basically a solo jump on the highest skydiving jump and landing at the highest altitude drop zone. Primarily this would be to raise money for Nepal and we would probably focus on the deforestation and also for the impoverished communities around Khumbu area as well.
EH: Would you recommend Nepal as a place worth visiting?
One hundred percent! Well if you haven’t been here already you should come here once, otherwise there’s no point in traveling anywhere else!
And the World’s Highest Skydiving adventure Everest Skydive gets underway….
Test jumps for the Autumn edition of Everest Skydive 2010 took place at Shyangboche (12350 feet) dropzone today (13th October 2010).
Derek Thomas (UK) jumped solo from 25,000 feet while tandem master Kevin Hardwick(UK) made a tandem jump with German camera flier/ television producer Alex Behse from the same height.
Tandem Jump – Alex Behse with tandem master Kevin Hardwick
Both the jumps were made from Tara Air’s Pilatus porter aircraft at around 12 noon(local time).
Watch this space for more updates!
(Photos : Explore Himalaya)
They got us everything we needed and really helped us on our trek. We enjoyed every minute with them.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.