When retired Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille got down to honor the legacy of the 31 People service members who misplaced their lives ten years in the past on Extortion 17, he knew he needed to go large. So when a possibility offered itself to go skydiving close to Mt. Everest with former US Navy SEAL Fred Williams and the elite staff at Complete Parachute Solutions (CPS), Sarraille knew it was an ideal match.
On October 14, Sarraille and the CPS staff set out on the two-week skydiving expedition into the Himalayas. Their purpose is straightforward: to leap into probably the most excessive skydiving surroundings on Earth. Their challenges are lots––lack of oxygen, unpredictable climate, confined touchdown zones, towering Himalayan peaks, and rugged terrain––and that doesn’t even take into consideration their trek to Ama Dablam base camp.
Sarraille has been documenting the expedition in Nepal and gave Males’s Journal an unique early have a look at his journal. The excerpts from his journey journal present an in depth look into his journey by means of Nepal thus far, in addition to perception into how the staff is getting ready for his or her preliminary jumps. Keep tuned for extra updates about each Mike and the CPS crew, together with their efforts to lift cash for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Mike Sarraille: “From the outset, my ‘why’ for this journey was to honor my fallen brothers on Extortion 17 and hopefully elevate cash to help their youngsters’s present and future instructional endeavors. Whereas that’s nonetheless very a lot the aim, this journey has turn into a lot greater than I may have anticipated and I’m solely eight days right into a 19-day expedition. To not point out, I haven’t even jumped but.
From watching an open-air cremation of Nepalese man, partaking with native Hindu and Buddhist holy males, listening to the story of my fellow expedition mates and their ‘why’, sharing a beer with different expedition members on this planet’s highest metropolis, Namche Bazaar; this has already been a whirlwind of occasions, feelings, and reflection far past my preliminary expectations. “
Day 1: Depart Austin, TX
A day I’ve been ready for – to depart on my journey to honor my brothers whereas partaking in a life-changing expedition. Whereas excited and anxious, it was arduous to go away my spouse. There might or might not have been tears, however I didn’t assume it was going to be this difficult to go away my spouse for 3 weeks, the longest stretch we’ve ever been aside. Moreover, I used to be unable to see my two youngsters in Virginia to want them a correct goodbye and remind them simply how a lot I like them, making my departure that a lot more durable.
Day 2: Arrive Kathmandu
Because the morning solar rises on October 13, our flight is 2 hours from Kathmandu, Nepal. Sitting within the center aisle, as I get up I peek to my left and catch a glimpse of one thing that makes me do a double take – the snowcapped Himalayas, as if their peaks are degree with our altitude. A number of passengers transfer to the left aspect of the aircraft to take footage of the awe-inspiring peaks by means of the window. As we strategy Kathmandu, the aircraft lowers its altitude, flying by means of a valley with peaks on each side earlier than safely touching down.
After spending three excruciating hours going by means of customs, I’m shortly greeted by Asian Trekking staff guides who drive me by means of the town to the Aloft lodge, in Thamel district. After checking in, I’m met by expedition chief Fred Williams, a former Navy SEAL and President of Full Parachute Methods, in addition to Dawa Steven Sherpa, a famend Sherpa and CEO of Asian Trekking. I’m additionally joined by Elia Saikaly, an award-winning filmmaker and excessive adventurer who agreed to hitch me and doc this journey. We discuss concerning the days to come back over a number of Berrainghers––an area craft beer. I retire to my room, I can oversee the span of Kathmandu, house to 1.5 million Nepalis, and shortly crash from the jet lag.
Day 3: Puja Ceremony and Hindu Temple Go to
On Thursday morning, your entire expedition staff traveled again to the Kathmandu Airport to participate in a Puja ceremony, an providing to the Hindu gods in trade for his or her blessing. This Puja is led by just a few Hindu holy males, who bless our helicopters and the pilots supporting our skydiving expedition. The ceremony lasts half-hour, with our whole expedition staff engaged and desperate to study from the tradition and pay our respect.
Elia and I then headed to an previous Hindu temple situated within the heart of the town with a key holy river operating immediately by means of the temple. The age of the town may be felt by means of the temple. Right here we noticed the cremation of a not too long ago deceased aged man. A neighborhood college pupil who speaks English defined the Hindu perception of cremation and the way Hindus ascend to heaven. On the finish of the cremation, the ashes of the aged man had been swept into the holy river. Observing the cremation is surreal and a wake-up name that I’m immersed in a really completely different tradition. After the cremation, we had a possibility to sit down down with three Hindu holy males and my new Nepali buddy, who translated for me.
The holy males answered my questions concerning the which means of life from the Hindu perspective after which provided their blessings to me, my household, and our expedition staff. At one level, one of many holy males positioned his six-foot-long dreadlocks on prime of my head as an act of kindness, as if he was gifting me his hair. They get fun out of it, as do Elia and I.
Day 4: Motion to The Terraces for the primary night time of acclimatization
We meet on the Asian Trekking Compound the place Dawa introduces us to your entire staff of Sherpas who can be guiding us on the journey. We switch our gear into waterproof duffle luggage, with every staff member getting one day-bag for the path, and one base camp bag for excessive gear. We load into SUVs for a one-hour drive into the mountains on the fringe of Kathmandu, the place we pull right into a 5-star boutique resort, The Terraces, owned by Dawa and his household. I don’t have the braveness to inform my spouse that we’re staying at a 5-star resort for the night time as she was below the impression we’d be roughing it your entire journey. Having opened solely eight days earlier, we’re among the many first company on the resort. The infinity pool and pool deck overlook your entire Kathmandu metropolis and valley––is among the many most breathtaking views to this point.
The staff bonds over beers within the pool and scorching tub. Sharing tales of the Groups (a colloquial time period referring to the Navy SEALs), skydiving, household, and the occasional embarrassing story. The variety amongst the expedition staff begins to hit me, such superb human beings with distinctive tales and distinctive causes for why they joined this expedition.
As night time falls, Fred Williams gathers the group to overview every of the meant drop zones––Syangboche, Ama Dablam, and Gorak Shep––and we overview restricted video footage from their earlier skydiving makes an attempt into these drop zones. Fred Williams was joined by one other senior expedition staff member, Dr. Ryan Jackson, who’s a British ER physician, TopOut Aero Restricted Co-Founder, and adventurer with extra high-altitude jumps than anybody on the staff. The duo talks by means of mindset, planning concerns, and methods to execute a profitable soar in these confined, high-altitude drop zones. Whereas appreciated, the nervousness from the gravity and danger of those jumps begins to set in.
Day 5: Helicopter flight to the World’s most harmful airport, Lukla
We convene at 5:30 a.m. to catch our helicopter journey aboard an AS 350 B3 to Lukla, the world’s most harmful airport. I draw the fortunate straw and get to sit down within the co-pilot seat for the 45-minute flight––one of the scenic helicopter flights I’ve ever taken. Flying previous the foothills of the Himalayas, the morning solar mirrored off the peaks of the mountains. As we lastly strategy Lukla, it’s past what I may have anticipated, a tiny runway tucked into the aspect of a mountain, together with the remainder of the town. We then transfer to a tea home owned by Dawa’s Aunt, who items us with Kata’s, white silk scarves, blessed by holy males. She needs us blessing for a secure journey.
We begin a 3.5 hour downhill trek, which is hell on my knees. Strolling the path alongside the river valley, there isn’t any scarcity of gripping views. The path span bridges gave us a deep respect for the river and its superior energy.
We finally arrived at Phakding (8600 ft), a decrease elevation than Lukla. To assist the acclimation course of, it’s a typical follow to sleep at a decrease elevation on the finish of the day. The tea home is a quaint stone constructing situated alongside the river. After dinner, everybody preps for the next day’s six-hour trek to Namche, the hardest hike and highest elevation acquire of your entire expedition.
Day 6: The expedition’s hardest trek to the world’s highest metropolis – Namche Bazaar
The group departs for Namche Bazaar and after about an hour and a half, we attain the doorway to Sagarmatha Nationwide Park––the house of Mt Everest. Sagarmatha (‘Goddess of the Sky’) is the Nepali identify for Mt. Everest.
After getting into the park, the path shortly grew to become very difficult. We had been advised this was the place the elevation acquire would give everybody a exercise to recollect. The subsequent few hours had been 30-to-45 minutes of upward motion, adopted by 15-minute breaks to let the group reform.
Elia and I paired up for the hike as I tried to drag each mountaineering and expedition story from his time within the demise zone that I may. Elia is very revered for his expedition historical past and has noticed extra demise on these risk-filled expeditions than most. His twenty fourth journey to Nepal, he educates me on Nepal, its tradition, and every website we go to.
After hours of climbing, our exhausted but excited group enters Namche Bazaar collectively. A bowl-shaped terraced metropolis, this place is called the best metropolis on this planet. A contemporary marvel of development, the town is a mix of tea homes, bars, mountain gear outfitters, outlets, and native houses. I used to be shocked by how fashionable the town is given the distant location.
After checking right into a tea home, the group breaks off in numerous instructions to soak up the city and hit the native watering holes. The city is crammed with completely different expedition groups, every carrying a selected expedition patch, wandering the streets and packing the bars. There isn’t any scarcity of fascinating individuals in search of thrills and problem, non secular awakening and reflection. Elia and Dawa make many introductions to superb people, every with a novel story. Everybody in Namche has a narrative, every value listening to, both crammed with life classes, roads much less traveled, or daring feats completed one step at a time.
Keep tuned for extra protection of Sarraille’s skydiving expedition within the Nepal. When you’d like to assist Mike help the Particular Operations Warrior Basis, you’ll be able to donate here.
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