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Adventure Travel

The $25,000 Alternative to Climbing Mount Everest

A skydiving expedition culminates in two oxygen-supplemented jumps from the “Roof of the World.”

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Most traffic jams are just annoying, but when they happen near the summit of Mount Everest’s 29,029-foot peak, they can be deadly. Eleven people died this season after a mix of erratic weather, a record-breaking number of permits and widespread inexperience caused an hours-long queue at the “top of the world.”
But what if there were an alternative way to experience the world’s tallest mountain? Perhaps by hurtling yourself down an empty route at over 130 mph, with nothing but air beneath your feet, an oxygen mask across your face, and the snow-capped Himalayas around you on all sides?  
Every November, the Everest Skydive expedition offers one of the highest commercial freefall experiences in the world. Starting at $25,000, guests are guided on an 11-day trek through Nepal that wraps with two tandem skydives from more than 23,000 feet above sea level (AMSL). “The exhilaration of jumping into the Himalayas is unrivaled,” says Tom Noonan, executive director of Everest Skydive. The freefall is matched only by the parachute ride that flies you past the natural wonder as only bar-headed geese on a Himalayan migration can.

A typical recreational skydive is made from 10,000 to 14,000 feet AMSL. Few civilian drop zones offer trips higher than 18,000 feet in the U.S., and only one—SkyDance, in Davis, Calif.—is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to allow oxygen-supplemented jumps from above 28,000 feet. (That one will run you $3,000, although the views of California’s central valley may not quite compare.)