Here at The Adventure Blog we cover a lot of interesting stories about people climbing 8000-meter peaks. It isn’t often however that we share a story about someone who found another way to reach the mythical 8000-meter mark that doesn’t involve ropes, crampons, and down suits. Earlier this week it was revealed that French extreme paraglider Antoine Girard managed to do just that when he sailed above the summit of Broad Peak in Pakistan, rising to some 8100 meters (26,574 ft) in the process.
According to Brad Sander, an American adventure pilot living in Pakistan, Antione approached him a few weeks back inquiring about renting oxygen bottles for the flight. Sander called Girard’s accomplishment “the flight of the century,” while helping to fill in some of the details about how all of this came together.
Apparently, Antoine shoed up in Pakistan with a friend in tow. Unfortunately, that friend was part of the French military, so his entry visa was denied. This caused Girard to scramble his plans some, but he met up with some other paragliders in country that helped get him acclimated. After that, he took off for the Karakoram, where he spent three weeks exploring the area and making flights around the mountains there, including the 8126 meter (26,660 ft) Nanga Parbat.
Once he learned how the thermals in the area worked, and became accustomed to the weather conditions there, the Frenchman hatched a plan. Climbing up to the Baltoro Glacier, he camped for a couple of nights while he made his preparations. On July 23, he took flight, gliding over the famous Trango Tower on his way to Concordia, a place where few paragliders have ever flown before. From there, he could see Nanga Parbat, K2, and Broad Peak.
After he got the lay of the land, Antoine was ready to go for it. He climbed above 6500 meters (21,325 ft), then set off in his paraglider. Catching thermals he was able to rise higher and higher, eventually reaching the summit of Broad Peak itself, which sits at 8051 meters (26,414 ft). This makes him the first person to actually fly to the summit of an 8000 meter peak in this manner.
Antonie is currently in transit back to France, but we’re told that he has GoPro footage of the flight. You can bet that we’re eagerly waiting to see how that turns out. It should definitely be very interesting. In the mean time, you can read all about his adventure here.
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