Brad Sander, Breaking Boundaries in the Karakorum
In the past decade, countless incredible flights have been completed in the Himalayan region, with a surprisingly high amount of them on Ozone wings. Is it because the world’s most adventurous pilots feel drawn to Ozone wings, or is it that Ozone wings are designed for the most hardcore adventure flying? We’d think it’s both, but whatever the reason, we are proud to be a part of these adventures and to know the pilots who are experiencing them – pilots like Rob Whittal, Bob Drury, Philippe Nodet, Julien Wirtz, and John Silvester.
Another such adventure pilot is Brad Sander, who you have undoubtedly heard of by now if you pay any attention to the Ozone news, or to free flight magazines. Brad is currrently in the middle of his third season in the Karakorum, and by now has set the Himalayan / Karakorum distance record with a 249km flight over 9 hours at altitudes of up to 7750m (which is also an altitude record).
Check out the photos at right, which illustrate some of Brad’s flying this season. And be sure to read his blog (click here), in which he describes the joys and struggles of flying at the highest altitudes humanly possible, and crossing massive amounts of uncrossable terrain for days at a time, landing and sleeping in places where human feet seldom, or never, have touched.
In Brad’s words:
“With paragliders we are redefining what can be done in the mountains. It seems crazy to me that so many mountaineers will dedicate themselves to weeks or months of suffering to get up one peak, at considerable risk to their life… We can see dozens of glaciers, cross hundreds of kilometers of mountains in a single day with relative ease and yet there is very little crossover to our sport. Perhaps they just like to suffer…”
“At a historic crossroads in Central Asia where the 3 greatest mountain ranges meet (Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindukush), Vol-Bivouac flying is proving be a mind blowing way for humans to achieve the dream of flight in a way never before imagined. We can see, touch and record images from one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. With paragliders we can quickly and easily return to the realm of humans where a unique culture embraces, welcomes, and rejuvenates weary travelers in the mountains.”
Below is Brad’s video, “The Way Back”, shot during an epic flight in 2008 with John Silvester on his Addict 2. Stay tuned for more incredible news from Brad in the near future, and if you want to check out some mind-boggling track logs, have a look at Brad’s XC Contest page: http://www.xcontest.org/world/en/pilots/detail:bradsander
(And if you can read Urdu, then you might know what Brad’s up to in these photos.