Everest Skydive is fast becoming a ‘mecca’ for skydiving enthusiasts. According to those who have done it, nothing beats the thrill of freefalling from above Mt. Everest amidst the magnificent Himalayan environment. Bill Booth, veteran skydiver(6100 jumps (including 6 at North Pole) under his belt) from Florida and a participant of Everest Skydive 2011, has led skydiving expeditions to some of the world’s remote corners (Table Top mountain in South America, North Pole etc). According to him, “skydiving in the North Pole and Everest Skydive are the two greatest skydiving experiences in the world.”
Sharing an uncanny resemblance to American guitarist Billy Gibbons (of American rock band ZZ Top), warm, affable, and articulate William Ross Booth, aka Bill graciously took time out to share his experience with us.
Bill Booth (Pic: Explore Himalaya)
Excerpts from the interview:
ESD: How does it feel having skydived at the World’s Highest drop zone?
Bill: It is overwhelming. I have got 6100 jumps. I have been to the North Pole 6 times, I have jumped on the mountain tops in South America but the beauty of this is beyond belief. After I landed I thought I was looking at the world on television. It was an amazing feeling. At that certain time your mind is trying to take in so much stuff, that you feel overwhelmed. …you call it sensory overwhelming. It’s so beautiful and the terrain is just so amazing …I have been to the Alps, the Rockies but there’s nothing quite like being near Everest. It’s gorgeous and I would say it’s an absolutely overwhelming experience and pretty much tops anything I have done…and I have done a lot!
ESD: Trekking high up in the mountains on your first visit to Nepal. How did it feel?
Bill: The trekking was good. It’s really hard coming from Florida after just two days. But you feel like you earned it and you deserved it. I feel you have got to earn the right to get up there. You can’t just fly in a helicopter… it wouldn’t be the same. When you trek you earn the right to get there, you work hard especially the last ascent into Namche. The trek was gorgeous. It’s the best trek I have done so far. I have trekked in Milford Sound in New Zealand, I have walked over the Rockies and the highest mountains in the US, but this experience was on a different scale. It’s very far and exotic and there’s a magic in Everest. For some reason you know, you get a tear in your eye when you see it (Mount Everest) finally ….
Bill’s solo jump from about 30,000 feet (Pic courtesy: Bill Booth), Photographed by ESD photographer
ESD: What thoughts crossed your mind while you were freefalling?
Bill: I made a solo jump from about 30,000 feet. I saw Everest while I made my exit but then I turned my back to it and paid attention to the photographers, so that they may get my pictures right ha ha ha… It was slightly nerve racking because of the terrain. Everywhere you look there are mountains. But I had three guys who had jumped there many times and I saw the way they were heading and turned my parachute the same way. Within 15 seconds I saw the drop zone. I was scheduled to make two jumps, but unfortunately we had to cancel the second jump as we ran out of time.
ESD: Will you do this again?
Bill: Yeah, of course. I would love to. There are a lot of places I want to go but this has been an unbeatable experience. When I first heard about it, I was like “no way, you can’t do it at that altitude… you are gonna break your limb.” But after I looked at the videos of the first year (ESD 2008), I thought I wanna do that and I finally got it on my schedule.
I recommend everybody to do it (Everest Skydive)because there’s no skydive like this. I have skydived in all the great places that you can skydive in but this experience is unbeatable! Even someone who has never made a jump can easily do it. To see that tandem works here is gratifying!!