Southeast Idahoans experience hike of lifetime
Three southeast Idaho natives recently returned home from filming a feature documentary on the first-ever paragliding expedition on Mount Kilimanjaro.
In the process, the expedition of nearly 1,000 people became the largest group to ever summit the mountain.
The Tanzanian government has a ban on paragliding, and it took the team more than two years to convince officials to temporarily lift that ban for this event.
"It was one of those experiences that will probably never happen again," said Ivan Marcinko, photography director for the documentary.
It's the hike of a lifetime and for part of the crew working on the "Wings of Kilimanjaro" documentary, it was the chance to be a part of something larger than life.
"It was exciting and I was nervous. … It was around 19,000 feet to the summit," said camera operator Jonas Marcinko.
Ninety-five adventurers from all over the globe hiked Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this month. The goal of the seven-day expedition was to paraglide 19,340 feet from the summit for charity.
The documentary follows that journey.
"It was a goal three years in the making to raise over $1 million for three Tanzanian charities and struggling to make that happen and ultimately winding up being successful," said producer Stacy Stutts.
But the weather took a turn for the worse on the scheduled launch day, and group by group, the expedition team headed back down the mountain except for two men: Sano Babu Sunuwar and his guide.
It took them hours and nearly 50 attempts to paraglide off Kilimanjaro.
"Eventually they wound off launching into complete cloud coverage and were in the air for, we believe, for over an hour before they made it to the landing zone," said Stutts.
"We had our ups and downs. There was drama, people getting sick. Everything a film needs will be in the video," said Ivan. "In the end, it was an amazing story with the one Nepalese paraglider who actually did fly off."
That paraglider, Babu Sunuwar, was also the first person to paraglide off Mount Everest.
The crew said they still have a lot of work to do on the documentary. If all goes well, it will be released sometime this fall.
See photos of the journey at http://goo.gl/hKSNU. To learn more about the expedition and the documentary, visit http://www.wingsofkilimanjaro.com and http://thehangarproductions.com.
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