Adventurers pay up to skydive at Mount Everest
32 jumpers shell out more than $37,000 each
British adventurer Holly Budge is ready to become the first in a series of people who have paid big money to jump from airplanes flying level with the top of Mount Everest and skydive to a meadow right in front of the mountain.
She was scheduled to make the jump Friday, but weather conditions forced organizers to wait until Sunday.
Budge is the first of 32 skydivers who have paid more than $37,000 to participate in jumps from 8,840 metres into the thin Himalayan air, using specially designed equipment.
Taking part in the jumps are skydivers from 14 countries, including Canada.
If the series of jumps is successful, organizers see it as the beginning of a new adventure sport for Nepal's tourist industry.
The project director for Everest Skydive is Nigel Gifford, a veteran of more than 1,000 jumps. He was one of four skydivers who did test jumps at Everest in May to see if it was safe.
Budge is to attempt her dive after taking off from an airstrip in Syangboche in the Khumbhu region of northeast Nepal.
"I'm excited, confident, scared, all in one," Budge told Radio Australia recently. She said she's an experienced skydiver who has jumped from small planes, balloons and helicopters.
Budge will wear an oxygen mask and carry a parachute that is much larger than normal to compensate for the faster descent through the thinner air of the world's highest drop zone.
Budge arrived at her takeoff zone Thursday after trekking for eight days through the Himalayas, according to a posting on her website.
Three thousand people have climbed Mount Everest since it was first scaled by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa mate, Tenzing Norgay, in 1953.