February 28, 2024

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Update on Mike Sarraille’s Mt. Everest Skydiving Mission

9 min read

When retired Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille established out to honor the legacy of the 31 People in america company customers who dropped their lives ten a long time ago on Extortion 17, he understood he had to go major. So when an possibility offered by itself to go skydiving around Mt. Everest with former US Navy SEAL Fred Williams and the elite workforce at Finish Parachute Solutions (CPS), Sarraille understood it was a excellent suit. 

On Oct 14, Sarraille and the CPS crew established out on the two-7 days skydiving expedition into the Himalayas. Their intention is very simple: to soar into the most intense skydiving environment on Earth. Their issues are plenty––lack of oxygen, unpredictable temperature, confined landing zones, towering Himalayan peaks, and rugged terrain––and that does not even choose into account their trek to Ama Dablam foundation camp. 


Picture: Elia Saikaly

Sarraille has been documenting the expedition in Nepal and gave Men’s Journal an exclusive early appear at his journal. The excerpts from his vacation journal offer a detailed look into his journey via Nepal so significantly, as properly as perception into how the group is making ready for their initial jumps. Keep tuned for extra updates about both equally Mike and the CPS crew, which includes their endeavours to elevate income for the Exclusive Operations Warrior Basis. 

Mike Sarraille: “From the outset, my ‘why’ for this excursion was to honor my fallen brothers on Extortion 17 and ideally raise dollars to aid their children’s existing and future academic endeavors. Although that is even now extremely considerably the function, this excursion has turn into so considerably a lot more than I could have predicted and I’m only eight times into a 19-day expedition. Not to mention, I haven’t even jumped still. 

From looking at an open-air cremation of Nepalese man, partaking with community Hindu and Buddhist holy men, listening to the tale of my fellow expedition mates and their ‘why’, sharing a beer with other expedition members in the world’s greatest metropolis, Namche Bazaar this has now been a whirlwind of activities, thoughts, and reflection far beyond my preliminary anticipations. “

Day 1: Depart Austin, TX 

A working day I have been waiting for – to depart on my experience to honor my brothers though engaging in a lifetime-transforming expedition. While psyched and anxious, it was tricky to go away my spouse. There could or may perhaps not have been tears, but I didn’t imagine it was heading to be this tricky to leave my spouse for 3 months, the longest extend we have at any time been apart. On top of that, I was not able to see my two children in Virginia to desire them a right goodbye and remind them just how significantly I like them, making my departure that much harder.

Day 2: Get there Kathmandu

As the morning sunlight rises on October 13, our flight is two hrs from Kathmandu, Nepal. Sitting in the center aisle, as I wake up I peek to my remaining and capture a glimpse of a thing that helps make me do a double get – the snowcapped Himalayas, as if their peaks are amount with our altitude. Numerous travellers shift to the remaining facet of the plane to choose pictures of the awe-inspiring peaks by the window. As we strategy Kathmandu, the aircraft lowers its altitude, flying through a valley with peaks on each sides before safely and securely touching down. 


Fred Williams. Picture: Elia Saikaly


After investing 3 excruciating several hours going by way of customs, I’m speedily greeted by Asian Trekking workforce guides who drive me by way of the town to the Aloft hotel, in Thamel district. Right after examining in, I am satisfied by expedition leader Fred Williams, a previous Navy SEAL and President of Total Parachute Techniques, as effectively as Dawa Steven Sherpa, a renowned Sherpa and CEO of Asian Trekking. I am also joined by Elia Saikaly, an award-successful filmmaker and extraordinary adventurer who agreed to sign up for me and doc this journey. We communicate about the days to appear in excess of several Berrainghers––a nearby craft beer. I retire to my area, I can oversee the span of Kathmandu, residence to 1.5 million Nepalis, and immediately crash from the jet lag.

Day 3: Puja Ceremony and Hindu Temple Stop by

On Thursday early morning, the total expedition staff traveled back again to the Kathmandu Airport to acquire aspect in a Puja ceremony, an presenting to the Hindu gods in exchange for their blessing. This Puja is led by a couple Hindu holy guys, who bless our helicopters and the pilots supporting our skydiving expedition. The ceremony lasts 30 minutes, with our complete expedition workforce engaged and eager to master from the society and pay our respect. 


Image: Elia Saikaly


Elia and I then headed to an old Hindu temple located in the heart of the town with a crucial holy river operating immediately by means of the temple. The age of the city can be felt as a result of the temple. Below we observed the cremation of a a short while ago deceased elderly guy. A area university university student who speaks English discussed the Hindu perception of cremation and how Hindus ascend to heaven. At the close of the cremation, the ashes of the aged male ended up swept into the holy river. Observing the cremation is surreal and a wake-up get in touch with that I am immersed in a pretty distinctive lifestyle. Just after the cremation, we had an opportunity to sit down with 3 Hindu holy gentlemen and my new Nepali buddy, who translated for me.

The holy guys answered my inquiries about the that means of everyday living from the Hindu point of view and then available their blessings to me, my spouse and children, and our expedition group. At a single place, one of the holy gentlemen placed his 6-foot-extensive dreadlocks on best of my head as an act of kindness, as if he was gifting me his hair. They get a chortle out of it, as do Elia and I.

Day 4: Movement to The Terraces for the initial night of acclimatization 

We satisfy at the Asian Trekking Compound the place Dawa introduces us to the whole staff of Sherpas who will be guiding us on the vacation. We transfer our gear into water-proof duffle luggage, with just about every team member acquiring one day-bag for the path, and a person foundation camp bag for extreme equipment. We load into SUVs for a just one-hour drive into the mountains at the edge of Kathmandu, the place we pull into a 5-star boutique vacation resort, The Terraces, owned by Dawa and his loved ones. I never have the bravery to notify my spouse that we are being at a 5-star vacation resort for the evening as she was under the perception we would be roughing it the complete journey. Having opened only 8 times previously, we are among the the initially visitors at the resort. The infinity pool and pool deck neglect the whole Kathmandu city and valley––is amongst the most spectacular sights to day.

The crew bonds about beers in the pool and incredibly hot tub. Sharing tales of the Teams (a colloquial phrase referring to the Navy SEALs), skydiving, household, and the occasional embarrassing tale. The range amongst the expedition team commences to hit me, this kind of astounding human beings with one of a kind stories and exclusive causes for why they joined this expedition.


Image: Elia Saikaly

As night time falls, Fred Williams gathers the team to evaluation each and every of the intended fall zones––Syangboche, Ama Dablam, and Gorak Shep––and we evaluation constrained movie footage from their earlier skydiving makes an attempt into these fall zones. Fred Williams was joined by yet another senior expedition group member, Dr. Ryan Jackson, who is a British ER physician, TopOut Aero Restricted Co-Founder, and adventurer with much more large-altitude jumps than anyone on the crew. The duo talks by way of thinking, organizing considerations, and techniques to execute a prosperous soar in these confined, significant-altitude fall zones. Even though appreciated, the stress and anxiety from the gravity and threat of these jumps starts to established in.

Day 5: Helicopter flight to the World’s most harmful airport, Lukla

We convene at 5:30 a.m. to catch our helicopter journey aboard an AS 350 B3 to Lukla, the world’s most perilous airport. I attract the fortunate straw and get to sit in the co-pilot seat for the 45-minute flight––one of the most scenic helicopter flights I have ever taken. Flying previous the foothills of the Himalayas, the early morning sun mirrored off the peaks of the mountains. As we finally method Lukla, it is over and above what I could have expected, a tiny runway tucked into the facet of a mountain, alongside with the relaxation of the metropolis. We then go to a tea dwelling owned by Dawa’s Aunt, who presents us with Kata’s, white silk scarves, blessed by holy gentlemen. She needs us blessing for a safe journey.


Image: Elia Saikaly

We begin a 3.5 hour downhill trek, which is hell on my knees. Walking the path along the river valley, there is no lack of gripping views. The trail span bridges gave us a deep regard for the river and its amazing power.

We sooner or later arrived at Phakding (8600 ft), a lower elevation than Lukla. To support the acclimation procedure, it’s a typical exercise to snooze at a lower elevation at the finish of the working day. The tea house is a quaint stone making positioned together the river. Right after dinner, absolutely everyone preps for the pursuing day’s six-hour trek to Namche, the toughest hike and optimum elevation attain of the full expedition.

Working day 6: The expedition’s hardest trek to the world’s maximum metropolis – Namche Bazaar

The team departs for Namche Bazaar and following about an hour and a fifty percent, we reach the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park––the home of Mt Everest. Sagarmatha (‘Goddess of the Sky’) is the Nepali name for Mt. Everest.

Following getting into the park, the path promptly grew to become pretty tough. We had been told this was in which the elevation achieve would give all people a workout to try to remember. The upcoming few hours were 30-to-45 minutes of upward movement, followed by 15-minute breaks to let the group reform.


Photograph: Elia Saikaly

Elia and I paired up for the hike as I tried to pull each individual mountaineering and expedition story from his time in the death zone that I could. Elia is hugely highly regarded for his expedition heritage and has observed a lot more demise on these chance-stuffed expeditions than most. His 24th trip to Nepal, he educates me on Nepal, its society, and each individual website we check out.

Just after hrs of hiking, our fatigued nevertheless excited group enters Namche Bazaar alongside one another. A bowl-formed terraced city, this put is known as the best metropolis in the earth. A modern day marvel of building, the metropolis is a blend of tea properties, bars, mountain gear outfitters, retailers, and neighborhood homes. I was shocked by how contemporary the town is supplied the remote area.

Right after checking into a tea house, the team breaks off in different instructions to take in the town and hit the area watering holes. The city is crammed with diverse expedition teams, each individual putting on a certain expedition patch, wandering the streets and packing the bars. There is no scarcity of exciting individuals looking for thrills and obstacle, religious awakening and reflection. Elia and Dawa make lots of introductions to astounding individuals, just about every with a exclusive story. Every person in Namche has a story, every truly worth listening to, possibly loaded with lifestyle lessons, roads less traveled, or daring feats accomplished a person move at a time.

Keep tuned for a lot more coverage of Sarraille’s skydiving expedition in the Nepal. If you’d like to aid Mike assist the Particular Operations Warrior Foundation, you can donate below. 

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