Watch: Climber Pulls Off First Wingsuit Leap From Aconcagua

One in all BASE leaping’s most formidable pioneers introduced within the new 12 months with the primary wingsuit flight from South America’s tallest mountain.

Editor’s notice: This text was initially revealed on Explorersweb.

Tim Howell, a British veteran of over 1,000 BASE jumps worldwide, traveled to Argentina in December. His aim was to summit Aconcagua, a 22,841-foot mountain, the best within the Western Hemisphere. He got here up quick on the summit, however nonetheless set a outstanding file.

Howell and his staff stopped a number of hundred toes from the summit as a result of inclement climate. However upon returning to Camp 2, positioned about 19,700 toes up the mountain, Howell determined to strap on his wingsuit.

Even contemplating his spectacular flight historical past, leaping off Aconcagua on Dec. 29 meant one thing particular to him.

“It was actually an enormous deal for me. As a result of nobody had performed it earlier than,” Howell stated in an interview on Tuesday. “That is my greatest achievement on the wingsuit aspect of issues.”


That’s no small assertion for Howell. A former Marines commando and an Afghanistan veteran, Howell’s BASE leaping profession has spanned 10 years and huge swaths of the globe. He’s performed wingsuit flights off all six north faces within the Alps, a number of cliffs within the Grand Canyon, and Half Dome in Yosemite. He’s additionally jumped from mountains in Scotland, Jordan’s Wadi Rum valley, and Greenland.

From Aconcagua, Howell’s flight lasted simply 3 minutes.

“I used to be fairly stoked to have landed it,” he stated. “There’s positively no adrenaline after I bounce as a result of every part must be actually calm. After I land, there’s a way of accomplishment.”

tim howell aconcagua base jump
Celebrating the primary profitable Aconcagua wingsuit flight; (picture/Tim Howell)

Planning the Aconcagua Flight

There’s little question that BASE leaping stays a harmful sport. However Howell believes that advances in know-how — and the athletes’ preparation for jumps — have improved the percentages in recent times.

For the bounce from Aconcagua, Howell made certain he did his homework and flight planning.

The preparation begins with being as acclimatized as doable to start the flight with a low coronary heart fee, he stated. He spent 8 days in Aconcagua’s nationwide park earlier than leaping from the mountain with only a wingsuit and a parachute.

Planning contains complicated calculations of the glide ratio, mapping the terrain, testing the landings, and understanding wind route. There’s a necessity for trigonometry for a few of that work, and Howell used a laser vary finder to assist together with his math.

“I’ve a pocket book filled with numbers and calculations,” Howell stated. “I don’t suppose I’ve ever wanted to do this for climbing.”

tim howell first aconcagua base jump
Making ready for takeoff; (picture/Tim Howell)

‘Skidding’ Again to Earth

At such a excessive altitude, the air can be 50 p.c much less dense in comparison with sea degree. Meaning “every part takes longer,” Howell stated, which is why his touchdown “was inferior to it needs to be,” he stated with fun.

“My wingsuit simply obtained a couple of holes in it,” he stated. “After I landed, it was like a baseball sport. Skidding it into the end.”

BASE leaping is not like many different sports activities, Howell added, as a result of it requires a very completely different set of abilities — normally climbing — simply to succeed in the purpose the place you possibly can “exit” the mountain. For a number of years now, Howell’s area of interest has been utilizing his abilities as a climber to leap from new mountains around the globe.

“For me, I’ve all the time pushed the narrative that it’s not a bounce,” Howell stated. “It’s not a stunt for me. It’s a logical, thought-out course of.”

So what’s subsequent for this climber on the vanguard of wingsuiting? The Himalayas, after all. Although he’s by no means visited the world’s tallest mountain vary, Howell is heading there this summer season, in hopes of a multiperson BASE bounce (referred to as a multiway) from Laila Peak (20,000 toes).

“No one’s ever actually performed that kind of factor earlier than,” Howell stated.

Try extra of Howell’s BASE jumps and climbing exploits on Instagram.

A wingsuiter in a helmet launching off a snowy cliff
Winter Wingsuiting in Norway: Loopy Flyer Launches Himself on a Sled off a Cliff
Beware: This isn’t your typical run down a sledding hill. Learn extra…