They would climb to the world’s highest point, launch a paraglider and fly for as long as possible, bicycle to a point where streams gathered into rivers, kayak across the Nepali border into India, and paddle the Ganges River all the way to the Indian Ocean. It would be an unprecedented first, but it was the overall combination of sports, audacity, and friendship that drew the duo to the idea. Babu, 28, had no climbing experience. Lakpa, 39, had never kayaked and didn’t even know how to swim.
In April of 2011, the duo had borrowed gear, slapped a basic plan together, and began their ascent of Everest. On May 21, they became the third party to launch a paraglider from the summit and set a new world record of 8,865 meters for free flight in the process. On the Kosi River’s Class V rapids, Babu got caught recirculating in a massive whirlpool in their two-man kayak, while Lakpa floated down river. Once they reached the Ganges, they paddled flatwater through unfamiliar country. They were robbed at knifepoint and had to live off fruit trees. After 850 kilometers, Lakpa and Babu reached the Bay of Bengal. On June 27, they became the first people to complete the descent from Everest’s summit to the Indian Ocean.
What did they get for their accomplishment? Besides being hailed as national heroes in Nepal, they are now the winners of the People's Choice Award in the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year competition. They garnered more of the 72,000 votes cast than any other of the Adventurers of the Year. You can see a photo gallery, read their story and interview, and see a video at NatGeo. Link -Thanks, Marilyn!
(Image credit: Sano Babu Sunuwar)