Discovery calls off coverage of Everest wingsuit jump
(CNN) — Discovery Channel has canceled its planned live coverage of the May 11 jump off Mount Everest by a California daredevil in his wingsuit, the U.S. cable network announced.
It was unclear Monday night whether climber and parachutist Joby Ogwyn still planned to leap off the top of the world’s highest peak after his guides died in last week’s avalanche that killed 13 people.
At first, the stuntman told his fans on Facebook that he was sticking with his plans even though his Sherpas were killed.
Ogwyn wrote Sunday that he and his team “are staying on the mountain to honor our friends and complete our project.”
But the post appeared to have been deleted Monday.
Friday’s avalanche was the single deadliest incident on Everest. Three other people were missing and at least half a dozen were hurt in the slide, which occurred just above a base camp more than 20,000 feet above sea level.
All 50-plus climbers engulfed in the slide were Nepalese locals and Sherpas who were taking food and supplies to base camps on the the 29,000-foot peak, authorities reported.
Ogwyn reported afterward that he was safe and mourned his lost team.
“These men were the salt of the Earth. Far better men than me. My heart is broken,” he wrote.
On Sunday afternoon, the Discovery Channel announced it was pulling the plug on its planned live coverage of Ogwyn’s jump “in light of the overwhelming tragedy” and out of respect for the families of the dead.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community,” the network said in a written statement.
Ogwyn’s father told CNN that his son was aware of Discovery’s decision.
Ogwyn, who has scaled Everest years ago, planned to hurl himself off the mountain in a wingsuit — a flying squirrel-like outfit that allows skilled jumpers to glide long distances before deploying a parachute for a safe landing. He used one to fly past the mountain on a 2010 test flight.
“I’m hoping to be up there for a while and enjoy the flight,” he told CNN in March. “This will be a chance of a lifetime for me. I won’t probably have it again.”
Nepal’s Sherpas have been guiding climbers up Everest for six decades. The avalanche occurred at the busiest time of year, when would-be climbers arrive to acclimate themselves to thin air of the Himalayas.
Before Friday, the worst accident on Everest was in 1996, when eight climbers disappeared in a storm. It was documented in the book and film “Into Thin Air.” Though hundreds of climbers now reach the summit each year, about 1% of those who attempt it die — “and as a workplace safety statistic, that’s pretty much off the charts,” Outside magazine Senior Editor Grayson Schaffer told CNN.