Everest: British daredevil Tim Howell is in training to make highest wingsuit jump ever
and live on Freeview channel 276
A British daredevil is in training for the world’s biggest ever wingsuit jump of 26,000ft - after finding the location on Everest.
Tim Howell, 34, has spent more than a decade climbing up mountains to fly back down - but is now preparing for the biggest challenge yet. The adventurer wants to smash the world record for the highest ever leap - at 8,000 metres (26,000ft).
Tim said it will be the first time anyone has jumped from such a height - and if he succeeds, he could break multiple records including distance, highest and difference in altitude.
Tim, who lives between Martock, Somerset, and Geneva Switzerland, said he has now found the perfect place to carry out the feat - the Everest massif. He said the time was now right to make the jump due to his extensive experience and training. He added: “I’ve been base jumping for over 10 years now and mountaineering for 15+, it's always been a passion of mine to combine the two activities especially in remote parts of the world. To be honest, although it has always been a dream to set my sights on a goal like this, It's only recently been on the radar as something that I can accomplish. That is because I feel like I now have the necessary experience and skillset to pull it off."
The current record is held by Valery Rozov - a Russian wingsuit jumper from Cho Oyu, on the Chinese/Nepalese border at 7,700 metres.
Tim has travelled around the world in recent expeditions to Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Andes, which he admits has given him a lot of experience and knowledge.
He added: "Each project and expedition is a stepping stone in gaining enough experience for the next. Right now I'm ready for the next jump to be the biggest one yet."
Such a mission requires substantial preparation, from a specialised suit to the perfect conditions for the jump and Tim says he pays “a lot of attention to the smaller details”.
He added: “I scrutinise the gear that I use and make sure it's the perfect tool for the job. In this case I'll be working alongside a wingsuit manufacturer to make an Ultralight wingsuit that will inflate and pressurize at higher altitudes where the air is less dense. I also need to consider heat regulation when flying speeds of up to 250kph (150mph) at -15C, that's why I'm working with brands to make sure the clothes, gloves, boots etc, will give me enough dexterity to fly the suit but keep me warm enough at those temperatures.”
Tim said finding the correct wingsuit exit for his jump was also a complex challenge. He has to calculate the height of the exit to the impact of his landing using a laser with ‘inbuilt trigonometry’ - and satellite imagery.
He added: “After that I can use mapping models and GPS data from my previous flights, to calculate my glide ratio and see how far I can fly before opening my parachute. Using high definition satellite imagery I can spot potential landing sites, keeping in mind I need at least 100m to set up my landing."
Tim said the expedition for his jump will last up to six weeks to allow enough time for multiple jumping opportunities and will require eight days of climbing - for less than five minutes of flying. The flight itself will only last “about four minutes long and maybe up to 10 minutes to land on the glacier below at about 4500m above sea level”.
He says as this will give him enough time to acclimatise to the altitude, work within the ‘death zone’ and reach the exit point, which Tim believes no one has ever jumped off before.
He added: "This time frame will give me enough weather windows for multiple attempts to reach the exit. The exit point is not on a normal climbing route so it will take some effort to reach this location as to my understanding no-one has summited this subsidiary peak. There is a lot to consider working within the "death zone" especially to keep a clear head when decision making."
Though keen to jump during this timeframe, Tim admits he won’t be afraid to say no to jumping if the conditions are not as they should be. He explained: “I've often found it easy to say "no" when conditions or the situation doesn’t align with a perfect scenario and I'll be taking this mindset to working at these altitudes."
Between now and his jump - which Tim believes he will complete around April - Tim believes his experience in the military and extensive mountain career will help significantly. He plans to be rigorous with his training in order to be as physically and mentally prepared as possible.
He said: “Physically I consider myself mountain fit, but I'm training even more to be well within my limits on the mountain. I always want room for error, even when it comes to fitness. I need to be able to always have a reserve, this will also help my mental game.”
Though Tim holds no pressure to complete the jump next year, if factors do not align.
He added: “Being overconfident can be dangerous, but I'm quietly confident that I can pull this off and if conditions or the calculations aren't right and don't allow for enough margin for error, then I don't find it hard to back off. The mountain will always be there, and walking away either successful or not means I can come back another time.”