Swiss wingsuit divers make first jump from Matterhorn
- by GCM
"It's the most marvellous jump that we'll make in our lives. If you could pick a mountain for such a first, it would have to be the Matterhorn," Geraldine Fasnacht said on her website.
The Matterhorn lies on the Swiss border with Italy, and its pyramidal peak is considered a national symbol in the Alpine country.
To make their jump, which took place Saturday, Fasnacht and fellow flyer Julien Meyer first had to scale the 4,478-metre (14,692-foot) peak.
Accompanied by two mountain guides, and hampered by snow, they took eight hours to climb from the Hoernli way-station.
They opted to jump from the east face of the Matterhorn, flew for a few dozen seconds around the peak and then landed on the north face.
Wingsuit divers wear special jumpsuits that add surface area to the body, enabling them to glide like a bird, before opening a parachute like a regular skydiver.
The Swiss Alps are a magnet for wingsuit divers and base-jumpers -- the latter sport is named for the parachute leaps that practitioners make from buildings, antennas, spans such as bridges, and earth sites such as cliffs and mountains.
Fastnacht, 28, is a well-known member of the global extreme sports scene.
Besides wingsuiting and base-jumps, she is also a snowboarder.
"It was snowboarding that gave me a desire to really get to know the mountains. It's like surfing on an infinite wave," she said.
She has already made several snowboard and base-jump expeditions in the polar regions, including Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic and the Norwegian-administered Queen Maud Land in the Antarctic.