Base Jumper Valery Rozov Dies In Himalayan Accident

K2 Mountain Poles

Tragic Death in the Sport of Wingsuit Flying

On Saturday, November 11th, Russian base jumper Valery Rozov was involved in a tragic wingsuit accident on the 22,349-foot-high Mount Ama Dablam. Make no mistake, Rozov was an expert flyer, having leapt from the highest points on each continent. For brief moments he would rule the sky, swerving and swirling on a hurtling, downward arc, like an eagle falling on its prey. Sadly, during this last Himalayan expedition in eastern Nepal, Rozov was involved in a fatal crash.

His death was announced by his sponsor, Red Bull.

The rescue was delayed because Rozov was lost at the bottom of a crevasse. Sherpas who trekked to the site were unable to return with the body and helicopters couldn’t land either.

Rozov, aged 52, was born in Russia’s fifth-largest city, Nizhny Novgorod. He started his career in 1998 and soon became famous for hurling himself into one of Russia’s active volcanoes, as well as flying from the sharp, snow-wrapped Ulvetanna Peak in Antarctica. From 2009 to the present year, Rozov jumped from the tallest peaks in five continents. He only had two to go, in Australia and North America. The recipient of international recognition, Rozov was a highly professional athlete and veteran of this heart-thumping aerial sport, in which athletes don high-tech wingsuits and soar with their arms extended, using the added surface area to catch the air and glide effortlessly over mountain ranges. Supposedly, it’s the closest thing

an athlete can experience

to flying, sweeping over the ridges, wearing nothing but the suit and a parachute.

“Valery will always remain in our memory: strong in spirit, professional, modest, full of energy, an eternal dreamer who was forever burning with new ideas and projects…” said Red Bull, Rozov’s sponsor, “We express our deepest condolences to Valery’s wife and sons, whom he loved and valued very much.”

In this video, Rozov, aged 48, flies from the north face of Mount Everest. This was the world’s highest base jump – a head-spinning 23,688 feet above sea level. It’s a record of Rozov at his best, doing something that no one in the sport had ever done before.

On Sunday, Rozov’s body was brought to Kathmandu, whereupon preparations were made to return him to his homeland of Russia.

Death-defying sports like wingsuit flying have been the cause of some controversy over the years, simply because death isn’t always defied and sometimes things go wrong. Risk-taking and sensation seeking are inherent in these endeavours. In recent years these sports have increased in popularity and more and more people have had to recognise the significance and reality of their inherent dangers. Athletes like Rozov, do, of course, gamble with their lives. When these gambles don’t payoff, public attention spikes and emotive and sensationalised reporting has become quite commonplace. Generally speaking, dramatic accounts of accidents like this one are much more widely read and distributed than the everyday success stories that make these sports so popular.

It’s important not do define or dismiss Rozov’s athletic aerial career by this single incident and instead celebrate his outstanding achievements in the sport he loved.

Previous/Links:

Valery Rozov BASE jumped at Everest North

Valery Rozov: Antarctic BASE jump like an astronaut in outer space

Best of ExplorersWeb 2008 Awards – Special mention

Valery Rozovs Torres del Paine BASE Jump debrief: So this is Patagonia I sure was lucky!

Best of ExplorersWeb 2004 Awards: Amin Brakk BASE jump

Valeri Rozov’s Grandes Jorasses BASE-jump image gallery: Do you believe it now?

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