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Nirmal Purja Injured in Paragliding Accident at Manaslu Base Camp

Elite Exped leader Nirmal Purja has suffered minor back injuries today in a paragliding incident. Purja apparently hit a rock while taking off from Manaslu Base Camp. He made it to Samagaon but was airlifted to Kathmandu for examination, The Himalayan Times reported.

Purja sustained no major injuries and doctors simply recommended a couple of days of rest. Purja told The Himalayan Times that he will return to Base Camp tomorrow morning. Elite Exped has approval from Nepal to study how feasible it is to paraglide from Nepal’s 8,000’ers.

Climb & jump: a growing trend

Paragliding from summit areas is an increasing trend among highly skilled climber/pilots. David Goettler and Herve Barmasse brought their gliders to Nanga Parbat last winter, and Benjamin Vendrines jumped from near Camp 4 on K2 earlier this summer.

For Vendrines, the paraglider was actually a great help. He had become severely ill with cerebral edema while descending from the summit. A Sherpa gave him oxygen. Once the O2 revived him, Vendrines unpacked his paraglider and flew down the mountain, reaching Base Camp minutes later.

Purja running on snow with a paraglider

Purja paragliding in Manaslu Base Camp. Photo: The Himalayan Times

Recently, several climbers have looked at paragliding as a fast, possibly safer way to descend or even to approach remote peaks, if conditions are right. Yet this is only suitable for experienced pilots with advanced skills in high-altitude flying. It is not clear how the use of paragliders could extend to commercial expeditions.

As Purja pointed out, paragliding is allowed on many mountains around the world, including Pakistan’s 8,000’ers, but not in Nepal.

“This project would definitely bring completely new tourism in Nepal,” Purja wrote.

His current team on Manaslu includes acrobatic paragliding legend Horacio Llorens and paragliding expert Malcolm Wood. Llorens has revealed that the three of them “are going to do this first test on Manaslu to see if it is really possible.”

They have also engaged Babu Sunuwar, who flew from Everest in 2012 in a tandem flight with Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa. Watch their flight here:

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.

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