Perched impossibly on a ridge overlooking a 10,000-foot drop into Tibet, Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa wait. Heel to toe, connected at the waist by a pair of carabineers that’s connected to nothing else, they stare down the North Face of Mount Everest, a red and white nylon tandem paragliding wing fluttering behind them. They know that jumping off the top of the world marks only the beginning of a longer, more audacious journey. And they know that the two-mile ride down Everest will be the easiest part. If the jump doesn’t kill them.
In April 2011 the two unsponsored Nepalis set out on an unprecedented expedition to climb Everest, paraglide from its peak, and paddle nearly 400 miles to the ocean. Little problems wouldn’t stop them. Like the fact that Babu had no technical climbing experience. And that Lakpa had never been kayaking—or swimming. But after summiting, surviving their flight off the world’s tallest mountain, and being arrested, robbed, and nearly drowned—repeatedly—the two friends discovered their adventure had only just begun.
Dave Costello is the senior editor at Alaska magazine and a contributing editor at Canoe & Kayak. He has also written for Outside, Rock & Ice, Climbing, National Geographic's Intelligent Traveler, SUP, and Trail Runner.