French paraglider pilot Herve Burdet flew over the summit of Machapuchare in Nepal on Monday 24 November 2014.
Second to Everest the mountain is the most iconic in Nepal, its 6,993m ‘fishtail’ summit the background to the view of the Himalayas from the lakeside town of Pokhara.
Considered sacred by the Nepalese the mountain has never been climbed and is off-limits to mountaineers. British climbers Wilfred Noyce and ADM Cox climbed to within 150m of the summit in 1957 but had promised not to stand on the top. Since then the mountain has been closed to climbers.
Pilots who have flown from Pokhara’s Sarangkot mountain will be familiar with the almost-7,000m peak, which looks down over the region.
Herve Burdet, who lives in Pokhara for most of the year, is famous for the repair workshop he runs in the town. As well as flying tandems for Sunrise Paragliding he’s also an avid hike-and-flyer, who regularly disappears from the town for several days at a time, returning with epic tales and enviable track-logs.
For the last few seasons Burdet has been hiking the region to the west of Pokhara, exploring take offs and flying terrain in the area. He reached the summit of Machapuchare after taking off from Arsch, a place very rarely used by pilots.
At this time of year, an inversion layer can limit cross country potential from Sarangkot, so pilots wishing to fly distances have been known to hike for a day to Korchon, which at 3,000m sits above the inversion layer and starts working early.
Two years ago Matthieu Abrard took his brother in a tandem to 5,000m after launching from Korchon.
Arsch is even further from Pokhara than Korchon, and is around 3,500m. The ridge that Burdet explored to reach the summit of Machapuchare is hardly ever flown by pilots.
While the higher ridges start working earlier, the air can also overdevelop quickly. Burdet’s numerous flights around the region have finally paid off to deliver a day that allowed a four hour flight to the summit of Machapuchare, and has brought praise from pilots around the world.
Herve’s flight took four hours and saw him climb the flanks of Machapuchare from a take off height of 3,527m ASL. He reached 7,071m above the summit before turning to glide towards Pokhara and a landing by the lake.
His tracklog is here.
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