Leg­endary Rus­sian dare­devil dies while base jump­ing from 22,000 feet in the Hi­malayas

The Day - - OBITUARIES - By SA­MAN­THA SCH­MIDT

Rus­sian base jumper Valery Ro­zov was known in the world of ex­treme sports as “the lim­it­less man,” a world-fa­mous dare­devil who could leap from the world’s great­est heights.

He was the first per­son to sky­dive into a vol­cano crater, the first per­son to jump off the slopes of Mount Kil­i­man­jaro, the high­est free­stand­ing moun­tain in the world. Even in his early 50s, he was break­ing records.

“For the Rus­sian leg­end, bound­aries are made to be pushed and lim­its are made to be ex­ceeded,” Red Bull wrote, “noth­ing seems to be too much of a chal­lenge for him.”

But on Satur­day, the free-fall­ing leg­end took his final flight. Ro­zov, 52, died in a base jump­ing ac­ci­dent while leap­ing from the 22,349-footh­igh moun­tain Ama Dablam in the Hi­malayas of east­ern Nepal, ex­pe­di­tion or­ga­niz­ers told AFP on Sun­day.

The de­tails of the in­ci­dent are still un­clear, but AFP re­ported Ro­zov had been on a “seven sum­mits” quest. He aimed to base jump from the high­est moun­tains on each of the seven con­ti­nents.

Ac­cord­ing to the Kath­mandu-based news­pa­per, the Hi­malayan Times, Ro­zov crashed into a cliff as he leapt from the moun­tain in a wing­suit.

A res­cue team in a he­li­copter re­cov­ered his body Sun­day morn­ing and air­lifted it to Kath­mandu, Mingma Gelu Sherpa of Seven Sum­mits Club, which or­ga­nized the ex­pe­di­tion, told the Hi­malayan Times.

Red Bull, which had worked with Ro­zov since 2004, re­ported his death over the week­end “with deep sor­row,” of­fer­ing con­do­lences to his wife and sons.

“The Rus­sian re­ceived in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion as a highly pro­fes­sional ath­lete, an aerial ad­ven­turer who tire­lessly set him­self against in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult goals,” Red Bull wrote in a blog post. “Valery will al­ways re­main in our me­mory: strong in spirit, pro­fes­sional, mod­est, full of en­ergy, an eter­nal dreamer who was for­ever burn­ing with new ideas and projects.”

A na­tive of Nizhny Nov­gorod, Rus­sia, Ro­zov jumped into an ac­tive vol­cano onto a glacier on the Kam­chatka Peninsula in Rus­sia’s Far East in 2009.

At the age of 48, in May, 2013, he broke the record for the world’s high­est base jump. on the 60th an­niver­sary of the first as­cent of Mount Ever­est. Af­ter a four-day climb to the jump­ing lo­ca­tion, he leapt from Changstse, a peak of Mount Ever­est, at an al­ti­tude of 23,687 feet. Tem­per­a­tures were at zero de­grees Fahren­heit.

He flew for al­most a full minute at speeds of about 125 mph and landed safely on a glacier.

“Only when I got back home did I see how hard it was for me both phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally,” Ro­zov said af­ter­ward, Red Bull wrote in a blog post.

Then, on Oct. 5, 2016, he broke his own record, leap­ing from a height of 25,262 feet on Mount Cho Oyu on the bor­der be­tween China and Nepal. He opened his para­chute af­ter 90 sec­onds of free fall.

In the days and weeks lead­ing up to his ac­ci­dent, Ro­zov posted pho­tos on Face­book doc­u­ment­ing his jour­ney to Ama Dablam.

Ad­ven­ture en­thu­si­asts from around the world mourned Ro­zov’s death on so­cial me­dia over the week­end. Moun­taineer Prem Ku­mar Singh wrote on Face­book that Ro­zov was an “ab­so­lute leg­end, push­ing your lim­its every sin­gle time.”

“I had the priv­i­lege of shar­ing a moun­tain with you in 2013 when you and I were both on Mount Ever­est try­ing to set a new high on our ca­reers,” he wrote. “May you fly higher and stronger in your af­ter­life.”

An­other post re­mem­bered Ro­zov as “one of the great­est dream­ers,” who mas­tered alpine climb­ing, ex­treme weather and lo­gis­tics to ac­com­plish each of his feats.

“He took the art of wing­suit into the thin air and will be deeply missed, as a hum­ble, gen­tle, funny Rus­sian guy,” the post read.

A fan named Mitch Pot­ter wrote on Face­book of his deep ad­mi­ra­tion for Ro­zov, say­ing he re­spected him not “be­cause he jumped off tall moun­tains in a bunch of ny­lon, that’s the easy part, but be­cause he took ac­tion to pur­sue flight where oth­ers haven’t.”

“At 52 years old, he still put one foot in front of the other tire­lessly up moun­tains that con­tin­u­ously ranked amongst the high­est in the world,” Pot­ter wrote. “The flying is the part that al­ways gets mass at­ten­tion, but there’s so many fail­ures that aren’t on cam­era which go into just one of the many mis­sions that Valery re­peated over and over again.”

“The sheer agony of push­ing your­self men­tally and phys­i­cally to get to these al­ti­tudes, the amount of re­search that goes into find­ing a suf­fi­cient place to fly, the third-world lo­gis­tics, and so many other count­less chal­lenges along the way,” he added. “Thank you Valery for show­ing us what’s pos­si­ble.”

Other friends and fans kept their mes­sages brief:

“Fly in peace,” one friend posted on Ro­zov’s Face­book.

“Fly free brother,” wrote an­other.

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