Like many, Joby Ogwyn has scaled Mount Everest then hiked back down
But now he wants to leap from the top in a special suit and fly to a base camp
Louisiana native says he has a high threshold for pain
He expects to reach speeds of 150 mph during the 10,000-foot flight down
No one has ever intentionally taken a nose dive off the roof of the world before.
In the 61 years since Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest, most of the 5,000-plus people have descended from the summit the same way they came up: on foot. A few have paraglided down.
Joby Ogwyn has other plans.
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The ultra-daredevil plans to plunge off the world’s tallest mountain in May while wearing a custom wing-suit equipped with cameras to share the jump with a TV audience.
“I’m very scared. I think it’s the fear of death or destruction that kind of keeps you above that,” he told CNN on Wednesday at skydiving practice. “But I’m not afraid to die. I’m not afraid to live my life on my own terms. And this is my dream and I am willing to risk everything to make it happen.”
It’s not like the 39-year-old Ogwyn is unfamiliar with the 29,035-foot tall mountain. He was 24 the first time he reached the summit, which at the time made him the youngest American to do so. He’s scaled the mountain from a base-camp in just 9½ hours. And three years ago, he did a test jump from an airplane.
The star of the National Geographic television show “Adventure Wanted” learned the effect the thin air at that height would have on his summit jump.
“I thought I would fall out of the sky a little bit,” he said. “In fact what I did was fly faster and further than I could have in that thicker air (at lower altitudes).”
When he flies in May, he expects to reach speeds of 150 mph during the 10,000-foot dive to base camp.
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“I never saw myself as a very gifted athlete,” said Ogwyn, who was raised in Louisiana. “I do have a very high threshold for pain and suffering at very high altitudes.”
He said it’s important to win the mental battle. What’s in your head and heart are more important than what’s in your arms or legs, he said.
The Discovery Channel, which televised Nik Wallenda’s tight rope walk over the Grand Canyon last year and Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space in 2012, has said it will show Ogwyn’s jump live, though no firm date has been set.
Ogwyn said he will reach the summit then change into his suit and put on his helmet.
He’ll take three or four steps.
“And I will be out of there.”
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CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.