Tom de Dorlodot, Paragliding in Peru
Tom de Dorlodot traveled to Peru last month with the Peak Performance Black Light Team. Together, the Team tested their new outerwear and climbed massive peaks, but instead of walking down with the crew, Tom just flew his glider down to the valley. Here's his exclusive story and some photos.
I am just back from Peru where I was traveling with my friends from the Black Light team. We went to the Cordillera Blanca where we stayed 3 weeks. The main idea of this trip was to test new gear and clothing, climb mountains and fly down from the different summits with my paraglider. As I had to carry my paraglider all the way to the top, it was important to use light gear. I was using Black Diamond 's lightest trekking poles, harness, crampons, headlamp, tent and a paragliding kit that weights around 9kg. (including the paraglider, the rescue parachute, the helmet, a GPS and a harness)
This expedition was a success. We climbed Vallunaraju (5686mt) as a first mountain and I could fly down from the top. It was nice to take off at 8 am and be taking a warm bath in a hotel in Huaraz at 8.35am while my friends were still walking down... A few days later we climbed Ishinca (5530mt) where I could also fly down from the summit. And finally the Alpamayo (5947mt) where the summit was too steep to take off but I could still get airborne from the col at 5300mt. That was the best flight because I had frozen my toes climbing this last one. There was no way I was going to walk down. It is all better now.
I always suffered a bit more than my friend on the way up because of the 10 extra kg that I had to carry but what a pleasure to fly down from those beatiful mountains. It was great to be able to test all my gears as I am getting ready for a massive "bivouac flight" in Pakistan. Indeed, I am leaving next week for 50 days in the Karakoram. The idea is to fly 700 km through the Himalayas all the way to K2 and intend to fly into the Concordia glacier and land at K2 base camp. A friend and I will be travelling by air or on foot. We will be searching for good starting places, meeting locals, flying as high and as far as possible, sleeping in the gliders in high mountain, hiking and so on for 4 weeks. We are expecting amazing flying conditions as Pakistan is probably the best place on earth to fly a paraglider. Last year we stayed one month near the Nanga Parbat in Pakistan to break altitude world records. My friend flew up to 7800mt and I went from 3600 to 6626mt in less than 10 min in a very strong thermal lift without oxygen... This time we would like to get close to 8000mt and break our altitude world record again. Let's see what happens.
Maybe I can send you some nice pictures of the K2 from above when I get back in two month... Stay tuned, blue skies and soft landings,
Tom de Dorlodot