For Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa, the best part of the Ultimate Descent—a three-month expedition to climb Everest, paraglide from the top, and kayak to the Indian Ocean—was the new sports they each mastered.
Babu, a kayaker, learned mountaineering skills in order to summit Everest with Lakpa, who worked as a guide. He suggests starting gradually. “Do [an] easy, low-altitude climb with [a] guide in your own country,” Babu says. “Or try an easy Nepal climb, like Island Peak.”
Lakpa had summited Everest three times before the Ultimate Descent but was a new kayaker and paraglider pilot. He attempted to teach himself to fly in 2010 by borrowing a paraglider wing and launching from a hillside above his home. He doesn’t recommend that approach. “Start with a tandem flight, and then take some lessons,” Lakpa says. “Pokhara in Nepal is a good place to learn and has the most beautiful scenery, with Annapurna sitting behind you.”
Sano Babu Sunuwar & Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa
Nepalis Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa launched a paraglider from the summit of Mount Everest in 2011, the third party to do so, and in the process set a new world record for free flight (8,865 meters). As part of this first ever expedition, which they named the Ultimate Descent, the two then biked to the nearest river and kayaked across the border into India, where they paddled the Ganges River to the Indian Ocean. They won the People's Choice Adventurers of the Year title in 2012. See their Adventurers of the Year profile.
Sano Babu Sunuwar & Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa's Gear Pick: Shoes
"The right shoes are really important," says Babu.