Duo paraglide over the Rohtang Pass in The Himalayas

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team

De Dorlodot and Llorens fly at dizzying heights on 350km Himalayan journey.

Thomas de Dorlodot and Horacio Llorens overcame bad weather and dizzying heights across the Himalayan mountains to become the first paragliders to fly over Rohtang Pass in India.

Here is all you need to know:

– In 2011, the duo set up SEARCH Projects with the goal of travelling the world in search of new adventures then produce inspiring documentaries about them.

– Belgian De Dorlodot became the first paraglider to fly over Machu Picchu in 2008, while Spaniard Llorens smashed the world record for infinity tumbling in 2012 after jumping from a helicopter at 19,700ft (6,000m) over Guatemala and achieving 568 revolutions.

– For this trip, the duo went to India at the end of 2019 with the aim of unassisted flights over the Himalayas, starting at Bir-Billing in Himachal Pradesh and ending at Spiti Valley via Manali, Rohtang Pass and Keylong.

– Their journey was roughly 350km and they battled rough weather to do the first 6,200m flight over Spiti Valley and first paraglide over the chilling Rohtang Pass.

– They had to make sure to never fly above 6,500m since that would require supplementary oxygen with strong winds following monsoons causing turbulence.

– The pair, who camped out on exposed mountain tops, had planned to fly from Keylong to Spiti but were forced to drive because harsh weather made it too dangerous.

– Red Bull X-Alps regular De Dorlodot, 34, revealed: “The main challenge was the weather. It was mostly turbulent and very windy. We did not have time to do a proper acclimatisation, so we had to be extra careful up there. It was mind blowing. Once above 6,000 metres you see very far away. It feels like you could go anywhere with your glider, but at the same time you feel so small and vulnerable. We were flying with massive vultures. Horacio and I started screaming ‘somos pajaros’ (Spanish for ‘we are birds’). It’s something we say only on exceptional flights.”

– Five-time world champion Llorens, 37, added: “The first challenge was to take the right decisions by radio for safe and long flights. I was impressed by the beauty and colourful landscapes while flying from Bir-Billing to Manali. There were green valleys, lots of trees and wild animals but suddenly, when we crossed the icy Rohtang Pass, everything changed. There it was all rock faces, narrow valleys, higher mountains and very few villages. We were at the heart of the Himalayas and the feeling was just amazing!”

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