ISLAMABAD, Jul 25 (APP):International professional paraglider pilot Tom de Dorlodot feels Pakistan was one of the most welcoming countries in the world with beautiful mountains, people and culture.
No altitude record was set for paraglider pilots Tom and Horacio Llorens but they did fly past four of Pakistan’s most spectacular peaks in a day in July.
World’s first Paragliding flight around K2 was in itself a milestone achieved by Tom and Horacio, who were Red Bull’s branded athletes.
During July, they succeeded in making just over a dozen 100km flights with an average flight time of five to six hours, pioneering new lines where no one has flown a paraglider before.
This was Tom’s seventh paragliding adventure to Pakistan and he leaves with even more love for the country and people.
“We love the country, the mountains, the people and the culture. The real heroes are the high altitude porters and the people from the villages. They’re so strong and welcoming. Pakistan is one of the most welcoming countries in the world,” he said while sharing his experience about the expedition here at a local hotel on Monday.
Speaking about his overall expedition, he said with roads cut off due to landslides we had to ration supplies. “For some days we survived off little else but chapattis and rice, while our only sustenance before a day in the air was a boiled egg and a potato on takeoff,” he said.
Tom and Horacio were due to fly home after three weeks with their team mate Rámon Morillas but decided to stay on another week to try one last time for the 8,400m altitude record by flying above K2, which stands at 8,611m.
“All we needed was a bit of luck with the weather, in particular, we needed strong 35-45km winds could be used to soar up K2’s slopes. And we got the wrong type of good weather – perfect flying conditions but nil wind. That meant the altitude record was impossible. However, we made one of the most spectacular high altitude flights ever done in the Karakoram.
We called it the Grand Slam flight,” said Tom.
“We flew all the big mountains in one day – Muztagh Tower, K2, Broad Peak all the way to Gasherbrum IV, then back to our base camp after a seven hour flight.
“The mountains are so big. It’s so wild. We climbed to 7,500m on K2 and we could see all the way into China and Nanga Parbat, 185km away. We could see the Siachen glacier and mountains for as far as you could see. This was really special.”
The pair were joined by birds of prey as we thermalled upwards in warm currents of air – and were able to fly over parties of climbers attempting Broad Peak, sometimes just meters above their heads.
“With many of the roads out still blocked we decided to fly out all the way from our base camp at the foot of the Baltoro glacier to Skardu. After finding the window we needed through the mountains, was one long 40km glide to town. We landed in front of the Concordia Hotel,” he said.
The next goal of Tom and the team was to go through the footage they captured. Tom said it was the most extraordinary high altitude aerial footage ever captured in this part of the world.
“The footage has never been seen before – to shoot this quality even five years ago would not have been possible.”
“It’s been a wonderful adventure. For us, doing the grand slam was something incredible. Only now are realizing how lucky we were to be there by ourselves, to have this place for a month,” he said.