A Grand Adventure & a Virtual Reality Experience
Like No Other
Fly across the Summit of Mt Everest in High Performance Wingsuits to create a unique Virtual Reality experience and raise money for earthquake relief in Nepal.
The BASEClimb High Performance Wingsuit Team – Dr. Glenn Singleman, Heather Swan, Roger Hugelshofer and Paul Tozer – the same team that made the first (& only) crossing of the Grand Canyon (2015), Brisbane (2015), Sydney (2011), the Australian Outback (2008), Mt Meru and the Meru Glacier (2006).
May or October 2016 - climbing season.
Wingsuiting Everest will be an unparalleled adventure not just for the adventurers but for millions of others as a high quality, unique Virtual Reality experience. The project will also raise needed funds for earthquake relief in Nepal.
How: The BASEClimb High Performance Wingsuit Team will exit a C130 at 36,000ft above the South Col of Everest. Using the same high altitude life support systems they employed successfully to cross the Grand Canyon they will fly in an arrowhead formation 5.6 miles to traverse Everest and fly down the West Ridge before opening their parachutes over the Khumbu Glacier and land at Gorak Shep at an altitude of 17,000ft. It will be filmed using the best available technology in VR camera rigs.
The following short sequences are available for viewing on the “video” section of this website. These sequences are only the most recent of an extensive media and documentary career.
Wingsuit Flight Over Brisbane - a short non-narrated version of the world first wingsuit flight over Brisbane. This was a training event for the Grand Canyon expedition.
A short non-narrated version of the 2015 world first wingsuit flight across the Grand Canyon from north rim to south rim (11.6 kilometres).
Part One of the 60 Minutes story of the Grand Canyon wingsuit flight.
Part 2 of the 60 Minutes story of the Grand Canyon wingsuit flight.
Also available online (iTunes and digital download) is the Universal feature length documentary “The Search For Freedom”. This documentary features Glenn & Heather plus Tony Hawk, Warren Miller, Kelly Slater, Yvon Chouinard and others. The trailer can be viewed at http://thesearchforfreedom.com/trailer/
Other material available on request includes:
The long form documentaries BASEclimb 1, 2 and 3. These multi-award winning documentaries tell the story of Glenn and Heather’s expeditions to climb and BASEjump the highest cliffs in the world. They have been shown in over a hundred countries to an estimated audience in the hundreds of millions.
Feature profiles on Australian Story (x2), 60 Minutes (x2), Revealed, Women at the end of the world (Polish television), Real Sports with Bryant Gumble, NBCs Eyewitness Video, New Dimensions with George Negus, Sports Tonight, Real TV
Interviews on Today (multiple), Sunrise (multiple), Midday, The Daily Edition, Today Tonight, A Current Affair, 7:30 Report, Live It Up, Monday to Friday, Wide World of Sports, Futureworld.
Books “Defying Gravity, Defying Fear” and “No Ceiling” by Heather Swan
Books with chapters on Glenn & Heather “Splat”, “Smitten”, “The World’s Most Extreme Challenges”, “Live your Passion – People and Performance”.
Feature articles about Heather and Glenn in Australian Geographic, The Good Weekend, Who Magazine, Elle Magazine, Renegade Collective magazine, Toyota Magazine, Land Rover magazine, Women’s Weekly, Action Asia, Notebook and Sunday Extra.
by Dr. Glenn Singleman (read Glenn's impressive film bio here)
Wingsuiting over Everest will be a few minutes of world class VR branded entertainment. However the story of who, how, where and why can be a stunning short or long format VR documentary.
Following is a scene list for such a documentary.
1. INTRODUCTION OF GOAL
Time-lapse sequences will introduce the goal, highlighting the magnitude, power and grandeur of the Himalayas and in particular, Everest (Jomo Longma); the highest mountain on Earth. Voice over will introduce the geology of the Himalayas – the tallest mountain range in the world; the result of two continents colliding. For over a century the summit of Jomo Longma has filled the dreams of adventurous men and women. Over 4,000 people have climbed Everest but no one has flown wingsuits over the top.
2. ARCHIVAL SEQUENCE
The first part of this sequence is set in an old movie theatre with an audience in period costume watching excerpts from a Black and White documentary. The first people to fly over the summit of Everest were part of a private British expedition funded by Lady Houston D.B.E. using Westland PV3 aircraft with open cockpits. Gaumont-British Picture Corporation produced a 16mm B&W film called “Wings Over Everest” in 1933. The film has all the pomp and splendour of the British Empire with Air-Commodore P.F.M. Fellows D.S.O. commenting; “the summit of Mount Everest…. was still the last stronghold of Nature, her last donjon-keep into which man had never been able to look, and her last penetralia from which he had never been able to rend the veil”. The expedition cloaked their adventurous intent with a scientific veil of reconnaissance. The film and still photographs from the expedition reveal a courageous team of colonial Galahad’s resplendent in the pioneering spirit.
CUT TO more modern cinema with plush seats and modern audience. They are watching excerpts from 2 documentaries produced by Orana films about attempts to fly hot air balloons over the summit of Mt. Everest. The first film, titled “Flight of the Windhorse” was made in 16mm in 1985. Although that team did not fly over Mt. Everest, the film has some beautiful sequences of flying hot air balloons out of Baktapur Square in Kathmandu. The devastating Nepal earthquake reduced this square to rubble earlier this year (see later). The archival sequence could also include shots from the 1991, colour,16mm film titled “Fire on the Wind” about the first successful flight over Mt. Everest in a hot air balloon. In voice over, Glenn Singleman talks about his introduction to Everest as part of the successful 1991 Ballooning expedition. This was the culmination of a race that developed through the 1980s and early 90s. Teams from Britain, Japan and Australia vied for the crown, which was finally won by the joint British-Australian expedition of 1991. Glenn Singleman was the doctor and one of the camera operators on that expedition.
3. INTRODUCTION OF CHARACTERS
Heather and Glenn have been at the cutting edge of adventure for 20 years. They have been flying wingsuits for 12 years and were pioneers of the sport in Australia. Their many achievements include a world record for the Highest Wingsuit BASEjump (Mt. Meru 6604 metres) and the first wingsuit flights across the Grand Canyon, the cities of Sydney and Brisbane and the first wingsuit flights across the outback icon, Mt Connor. All of their adventures were filmed in HD.
For them, flying across the summit of the world is a natural progression. However there is a deeper motivation. Glenn is a doctor, scientist, motivator and expert on the neurophysiology of fear. Heather is an author and photographer whose books and articles have inspired thousands. Heather and Glenn believe that the wilderness and adventure can build fearlessness, resilience and compassion. They liken their progress through adventure to a spiritual quest.
4. PREPARATION FLIGHTS
Wingsuiting over Everest in formation requires sophisticated technology and thorough preparation. The team used military oxygen equipment to fly across the Grand Canyon. They will use the same equipment for the Everest flight. They plan to do test flight over a major city (probably Melbourne) and over the highest mountain in Australia (Mt. Kosciuszko).
The fight over Melbourne is a high-pressure precision endeavour. The team MUST fly in formation and land in an area 50m x 50m in a 7-minute time window between jet aircraft traffic. The flight over Kosciuszko will require the same precision plus physical strength and oxygen technology. The VR footage will be spectacular.
The summit of Mt Everest (Jomo Longma) lies on the border between Tibet and Nepal. The team will be flying on the Nepal side of the border. The team must spend time in Nepal to acclimatise and deal with permits and organisation. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and a melting pot of cultures, religions and landscapes. Glenn and Heather have been to Nepal many times but the Nepal they knew and loved is now gone.
On 25th April 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the west of Nepal. 2 weeks later a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck the area between Kathmandu and Mt. Everest. 8,617 people were killed with 16,808 injured. 591,000 houses were destroyed displacing 2.8 million people. 26 hospitals were damaged.
A Post-Disaster Needs Assessment—conducted in coordination with the UN, World Bank, and other international partners—estimates that economic losses related to the earthquake total approximately $US7 billion. World governments, NGOs and charities are responding generously but more can always be done. The Wingsuit Everest team would like to be part of the solution so the project will help raise funds for one of the NGO charities.
It is impossible to ignore the devastation in Nepal so a sequence of the film will reveal the extent of damage and heartache as only a VR camera can. This will be linked to fundraising with every viewer of the film encouraged to help with donations to the relief effort.
5. THE TREK TO THE LANDING AREA
The Wingsuit Everest team will be landing at Gorak Shep at an altitude of 17,000ft. Gorak Shep is a 2 hour walk from Everest base camp. The team must be acclimatized to that altitude before they land or they could succumb to altitude sickness. If the team have any malfunction and have to land higher than 17,000ft they could suffer significant altitude sickness. The best way for the team to acclimatize is to trek to the landing area. This will take at least 6 days from Lukla (the nearest airport).
The trek to Gorak Shep will highlight the Khumbu, the home of the deeply spiritual Sherpa people. The vision will focus on the mountainous landscape and its effect upon the culture, architecture, livelihood and spirituality of the people. Also evident will be the damage from the earthquake.
At Gorak Shep the team will set up a windsock and leave a small rescue team with food, tents, medical supplies etc. The real physical dangers will be evident on the faces of the team as they enact a high altitude crash scenario in which one of the wingsuit pilots are injured and trapped on the side of a steep ice cliff and have to be rescued or rescue themselves. Each team member must understand survival techniques including mountaineering and belay techniques, abseiling, crevasse rescue, emergency shelter, communications and first aid.
6. TENGBOCHE MONASTERY AND MANI RIMDU
In the early 20th century an enlightened Buddhist monk called Lama Gulu is said to have flown over Everest (known as Jomo Longma by Tibetans) in a tantric meditative trance. During the flight, the Great Monk visited his brothers at the Rongbuk monastery on the northern (Tibetan) side of Everest then flew over the top of the mountain. As he passed over, he placed his footstep on the summit, to peg the mountain in place and prevent it floating away. He brought the great festival of Mani Rimdu from Tibet to the Khumbu.
Mani Rimdu is now the major Buddhist festival of the Khumbu valley. This epic dance drama celebrates the victory of Buddhism over Black Bon; the shamanic aboriginal religion of ancient Tibet. Every year after the October full moon, the monks of Tengboche monastery don brightly coloured masks and dance out a thirteen act play over three days accompanied by drums, giant trumpets and horns made from human thigh bones. The site of this high altitude entertainment is the temple, or gompa, within the monastery itself. Situated in a giant bowl on a plateau at an altitude of almost four thousand metres, the gompa is crowned by some of the highest mountains in the world: Thamserku (6608m), Kangteiga (6779m), Taboche (6542m) and two kilometres away, the summit of Mount Everest (8848m).
Lama Gulu founded the Tengboche Monastery in 1923 and established Mani Rimdu as an annual festival around 1936. The Wingsuit Everest Documentary will depict excerpts from the festival’s terrifying third act. Furious drumming and shrieking of horns precedes the entrance of a masked monk depicting Rdo-rje Gro-lod, one of the eight fierce manifestations of Padma Sambhava (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism). The monk-dancer emerges slowly, wielding in his right hand a vajra or Thunderbolt of the Gods, and in his left, a sacred dagger (phur-bu) to fight off the demons. His mask is fiendish, the orange and black eyes surrounded by white eyeballs. The upturned snout is flattened. Two fangs protrude from the sides of the frowning mouth and five skulls adorn the forehead. Rdo-rje Gro-lod whirls about and stabs the vajra and phur-bu into the air as the beat of the cymbals intensifies. In a thundering climax Rdo-rje Gro-lod defeats the demons of Bon and forces them to swear an oath of fidelity to Buddhism.
Mani Rimdu is highly symbolic theatre in the spiritually mystical tradition of Tantric Buddhism. For the Tibetan and Sherpa people Rdo-rje Grolod’s victory heralds inner liberation from a harsh, unyielding external environment. Tantric Buddhism emphasises transcendence of the physical world and the attainment of perfect knowledge, enlightenment and final release. Mani Rimdu celebrates victory of enlightenment over chaos and darkness.
The present Abbot of Tengboche monastery; Ngawang Tenzin Zangbu is recognised by Tibetan Buddhists as Lama Gulu’s reincarnation. The Abbot can tell us the story of his flight over Mt. Everest and quest to establish the Mani Rimdu celebration at Tengboche. He can also guide the audience through the meaning and some of the symbolism of the performance. The arcane hand gestures (mudras), dance steps, music, costumes, masks and sacred objects signify inner values in physical forms. The Abbot’s interpretation will afford film viewers a unique insight into the mythology and rich imagery of Sherpa culture.
In a very real and visual sense the physical journey of the Wingsuits over Jomo Longma parallels the spiritual journey that brought Mani Rimdu to Tengboche. The Wingsuit Everest team, like the Sherpa people in their quest to overcome the Black Bon, must learn to work with the natural forces of the Himalaya. With knowledge and understanding they can transcend their fear and successfully navigate the wingsuits over the summit of Everest. In voice over Glenn & Heather (as spectators) will comment on the meaning of Mani Rimdu in the western arenas of psychology, motivation and overcoming fear.
The Wingsuit Everest Team must trek past Tengboche monastery before and after the flight as the intended landing area is further up the Khumbu valley.
7. THE TECHNOLOGY
The summit of Jomo Longma (Everest) is 29,028ft AMSL. To fly over the summit the Wingsuit team will have to exit the aircraft at 35,000ft. There aren’t many aircraft that can get to 35,000ft with an in flight door that can be opened for skydiving (King Air, Grand SuperVan with Texas Turbine upgrade and C-130). None of these planes currently operate in Nepal. The Everest Wingsuit team will charter a C-130 Hercules from Delhi. It is less about 2 hours from Delhi to Kathmandu for a C-130 at 300knots. The team will board the plane at Kathmandu in the early morning. Everyone aboard will pre-breath pure oxygen for an hour to wash nitrogen out of his or her bodies (to prevent decompression sickness or the bends). The team must continue to breath oxygen for the entire plane and wingsuit flight under supervision of Tad Smith (the oxygen consultant who accompanied the team on the Grand Canyon trip).
Mt. Everest is 87 nautical miles from Kathmandu airport. It will take about 30 minutes to get to the right position near the south col on the Nepal side of Mt. Everest coming from the SSE. The team will exit the aircraft 1 mile out from summit of Everest. They will fly the 1 mile to Everest on the Nepal side of the border, then do a 90 degree left hand turn over the summit and fly above the west ridge opening at 20,000ft over the Khumbu glacier and landing at Gorak Shep. The wingsuit flight will take about 3 minutes. The canopy flight will also take about 3 minutes.
The whole flight will be 5.6 miles through 15,000ft vertical relief (exit 35,000ft and open 20,000ft). At the Grand Canyon the team flew 7.5 miles in 17,000ft (from 28,000ft exit to 11,000ft opening height) so we know Everest is achievable for this team. The winds at the landing area must be less than 20knots for the team to land safely under their big canopies. The conditions will be transmitted from the landing team using satellite phones and air band VHF.
Because of the height of the landing area the team will use extra large parachutes to land at a safe speed in the thin atmosphere. In case they land away from the designated landing area, each team member must carry a satellite phone, a GPS unit and a UHF radio (to establish contact with the emergency retrieval team).
The emergency retrieval team will be equipped with rope rescue as well as emergency first aid equipment and satellite communications.
The team must wait for the jet stream to lift above the summit of Jomo Longma and the clouds to clear. Time-lapse shots of snow pluming off the mountains will contrast with the last minute rehearsals, plans and checking of equipment. The nervousness of the team will be palpable. This will be an intimate sequence contrasting the humanity of the pilots with the potential dangers ahead. The team will reflect upon their fears as they approach the moment of truth.
The flight will be covered with multiple cameras – 2 in the plane, 1 attached to the tail, 1 on a pole above Glenn’s head and 1 on a pole out from Paul’s waist. The preparations in the plane, the approach over the Himalaya, the warning light at 3 minutes, the disconnection from on board oxygen to bail out oxygen, the lowering of the ramp, the spot check of the position, the stack up in the door and finally the GO signal. It will be very intense.
The wingsuit flight by contrast is a visual extravaganza. The most inspiring landscape on the planet will be laid out around the wingsuit pilots.
Two ground-based cameras will cover the flight. One of the cameras will be at the landing area and the second will be with the advance retrieval team on the Khumbu ice fall.
The resulting footage will allow flexibility with editing. The VR branded content version will focus on the flight whereas the long format documentary could be more creative with cross cutting between the real flight and the “imagined” flight of Mani Rimdu.
SAND MANDALA FINAL SEQUENCE
Intermittently, through the long format documentary, the audience will see a group of monks creating a sand mandala. These mandalas are ritualistic representations of the ephemerality of life. They are created over days or weeks with coloured sand granules using funnels call chuk-pur. Once created the sand mandalas are destroyed indicating the transitory nature of material life.
The sand mandala created for this film is a signpost to the essence of the film. For the final shot of the film the camera pulls back to show sand images from the film – Jomo Longma, wingsuits, flying tigers, Tengboche monastery, the demons of Bon, Padma Sambhava etc. This completed mandala is a summary and guide to the physical, emotional and spiritual stories of the film. After the pull back is finished the mandala is blown away in a swirl of coloured sand.