Pablito Perazzoli skydives in Balewa and lives to tell a tale
I feel grateful to be able to tell this story, the story that took several years to come true. It all started with a phone call from a close friend inviting me to be part of Pokhara Skydive 2015. A short trip from Dubai to Kathmandu, I spent the night in town getting to know the team that I was becoming a part of. They were all outstanding people and they were also amazing skydivers. The following morning we took a long bus ride to Pokhara. It took us seven hours to cover the 200 km distance.
Once in Pokhara we had a day off to walk around, explore, and relax. The next morning we started the operation — three days of skydiving ahead, lots of excitement! The helicopter was ready and I was lucky to get a chance to go first. On board with me were Ted Atkins (O2 specialist) Ernesto Gainza (world record holder for landing the smallest parachute) and Michael McCann (all around great skydiver). As we gained height we could see the Annapurna range and seeing the massive the glaciers made me feel very humble, very grateful and alive. Mike and Ernesto jumped from 10000ft AGL and I took position to film Ted on his first jump in Nepal. It would be my first jump too. We opened our parachutes and thankfully we both made a safe landing.
The next day and on the last day we followed a similar routine. The last day was a short day with only five people on board. As were walking to the helicopter I asked Tom “How was it?” his response was priceless, “You need to experience it without expectations,” he said. The helicopter made a sharp turn to line up to the old runway of Balewa (last flight from there was 20 years ago).
We readied for our final jump. Mike jumped first, I followed Ernesto and then Jean-Phi. Parachutes opened and we were flying in this wonderful green mountains. I was looking around to make sure I didn’t get on Mike’s way. I prepared for landing, Downwind (I couldn’t see Mike), cross wind (where is mike and at the last minute I saw him doing his landing maneuver). I took a deep breath, I looked down and I saw a cliff that went down like 500 ft or more into the river, I smiled and I felt so alive, so happy to be there. I started my maneuver for landing and I lined up perfectly, I was flying towards Mike at a high speed. I touched down and the people were cheering me for a safe landing. I saw Ernesto land and the crowd got louder. Jean-Phi finished clapping as he landed and the energy from the people and the place was indescribable. We quickly gathered our parachutes, the helicopter landed and we climbed in.
On the magical flight back we were smiling at each other. We could see happiness in each other’s faces! I tried to take this wonderful place in; it was very hard, so little time. We landed and I gave Tom a big hug and big thanks. Pokhara was amazing but the mini expedition to Balewa was magical.
All in all Nepal is one of the most wonderful places on earth, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be there, next year it will be incredible. Nepal, I’ll come back again.
The author is a master rigger and all around skydiver
A version of this article appears in print on December 31, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.