Washington: Russian base jumper Valery Rozov was known in the world of extreme sports as “the limitless man”, a world-famous daredevil who could leap from the world’s greatest heights.
He was the first person to skydive into a volcano crater, the first person to jump off the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Even in his early 50s, he was breaking records.
“For the Russian legend, boundaries are made to be pushed and limits are made to be exceeded,” Red Bull wrote, “nothing seems to be too much of a challenge for him”.
But on Saturday, the free-falling legend took his final flight. Rozov, 52, died in a base jumping accident while leaping from the 22,349-foot-high mountain AMA Dablam in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal, expedition organisers told AFP on Sunday.
The details of the incident are still unclear, but AFP reported Rozov had been on a “seven summits” quest. He aimed to base jump from the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.
According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper, the Himalayan Times, Rozov crashed into a cliff as he leapt from the mountain in a wingsuit.
A rescue team in a helicopter recovered his body Sunday morning and airlifted it to Kathmandu, Mingma Gelu Sherpa of Seven Summits Club, which organised the expedition, told the Himalayan Times.
Red Bull, which had worked with Rozov since 2004, reported his death over the weekend “with deep sorrow”, offering condolences to his wife and sons.
“The Russian received international recognition as a highly professional athlete, an aerial adventurer who tirelessly set himself against increasingly difficult goals,” Red Bull wrote in a blog post. “Valery will always remain in our memory: strong in spirit, professional, modest, full of energy, an eternal dreamer who was forever burning with new ideas and projects.”
A native of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Rozov jumped into an active volcano onto a glacier on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East in 2009.
At the age of 48, in May, 2013, he broke the record for the world’s highest base jump. on the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest. After a four-day climb to the jumping location, he leapt from Changstse, a peak of Mount Everest, at an altitude of 23,687 feet. Temperatures were at zero degrees Fahrenheit.
He flew for almost a full minute at speeds of about 125mph (202kph) and landed safely on a glacier.
“Only when I got back home did I see how hard it was for me both physically and psychologically,” Rozov said afterward, Red Bull wrote in a blog post.
Then, on October 5, 2016, he broke his own record, leaping from a height of 25,262 feet on Mount Cho Oyu on the border between China and Nepal. He opened his parachute after 90 seconds of free fall.
In the days and weeks leading up to his accident, Rozov posted photos on Facebook documenting his journey to AMA Dablam.
Adventure enthusiasts from around the world mourned Rozov’s death on social media over the weekend. Mountaineer Prem Kumar Singh wrote on Facebook that Rozov was an “absolute legend, pushing your limits every single time.”
“I had the privilege of sharing a mountain with you in 2013 when you and I were both on Mount Everest trying to set a new high on our careers,” he wrote. “May you fly higher and stronger in your afterlife.”
Another post remembered Rozov as “one of the greatest dreamers,” who mastered alpine climbing, extreme weather and logistics to accomplish each of his feats.
“He took the art of wingsuit into the thin air and will be deeply missed, as a humble, gentle, funny Russian guy,” the post read.
A fan named Mitch Potter wrote on Facebook of his deep admiration for Rozov, saying he respected him not “because he jumped off tall mountains in a bunch of nylon, that’s the easy part, but because he took action to pursue flight where others haven’t”.
“At 52 years old, he still put one foot in front of the other tirelessly up mountains that continuously ranked among the highest in the world,” Potter wrote. “The flying is the part that always gets mass attention, but there’s so many failures that aren’t on camera which go into just one of the many missions that Valery repeated over and over again.”
“The sheer agony of pushing yourself mentally and physically to get to these altitudes, the amount of research that goes into finding a sufficient place to fly, the third-world logistics, and so many other countless challenges along the way,” he added. “Thank you Valery for showing us what’s possible.”
Other friends and fans kept their messages brief:
“Fly in peace,” one friend posted on Rozov’s Facebook.
“Fly free brother,” wrote another.