As of 2010, 3,142 people have climbed Everest with a total of 5,104 ascents. Some have skied it, others just climb, but Babu and Lakpa took an entirely different approach. Both had climbed the peak before, but they did not want to just climb to the top again: this time they wanted to focus on an epic descent. From the top in a paraglider, the two glided as long as possible to land, rode bikes to the river, and jumped into kayaks paddling their way thousands of miles down the Ganges to the Indian Ocean. On February 28th, the two won National Geographics readers choice Adventurers of the Year for 2012, the perfect finale for their 29,028ft descent from Everest to sea level.
What truly makes their journey special is that it started long before May 21st when they reached the summit. Two years before, Lakpa had just started paragliding. The dynamic duo had a couple of mountains ahead of them before they even reached Mt. Everest. Lakpa had never kayaked before and did not know how to swim. Babu had no climbing experience. The combination is not exactly the perfect catalyst for success. But that was not going to stop them.
The even more amazing part of the mixture is that they had no corporate sponsors, no Facebook pages and essentially no budget. Their courage and resourcefulness is beyond inspirational. Besides their recognition from National Geographic, the Nepali press hailed them as national heros. Coined “The Ultimate Descent Team” Babu and Lakpa’s spirit and friendship carried them through class 5 rapids, above the death zone in a paraglider and stopped them at the beach of the Indian Ocean, where upon arrival they were scared because their kayaks were surrounded by giant red scorpions. Later they learned the scorpions were just a bunch of crabs. I guess we all have to be afraid of something.