Everest Skydiving Expedition Set to Honor Fallen Special Operations Soldiers
This article is an installment of The Everyday Warrior series, a recurring column by retired Navy SEAL, best-selling author, and founder/CEO of ATTA, Mike Sarraille and edited by Jack Haworth, featuring advice, key interviews, and tips to live a life of impact, growth, and continual learning.
Mt. Everest is synonymous with mountaineers and climbers who push their physical and mental limits to summit the tallest peak on Earth––over 29,000 feet in elevation. This month, retired Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille will accompany a highly trained group heading to the Everest region to do something even more extreme––skydiving.
The two-week expedition in the Himalayas began October 14, when Sarraille met up with the elite crew from Complete Parachute Solutions (CPS), led by former US Navy SEAL Fred Williams. The goals of this expedition are multiple, but the overall mission remains the same––free falling into the highest drop zones on Earth.
“I’m not a world-class skydiver, I’m not trying to fool anyone,” said Sarraille. “But this was a challenge for me to grow. Having known Fred and what he does with CPS, it seemed like a natural step for me.”
Executing a Military Free Fall from a helicopter is a specialized technique that requires careful expertise and skill, but jumping in the Himalayas is even more daunting. The extreme and unique environment presents a range of different challenges including cold temperatures, unpredictable wind gusts, lack of oxygen, and the overwhelming visual of jumping amongst the towering mountain peaks.
Adding another degree of difficulty, the parachutists will be jumping into confined landing areas (known as drop zones) that allow no room for error. Miss their tiny landing zone and the unforgiving mountain terrain will deliver severe consequences. For Sarraille, the challenge serves as inspiration.
“When we push ourselves to our mental and physical limits, that’s where true growth takes place,” said Sarraille. “That’s what this trip represents for me.”
Sarraille is a retired US Navy SEAL officer, Former Recon Marine, Talent War Group CEO, and author of The Talent War. During his 20-year career in the Special Operations community and now as a business leader, Sarraille experienced first-hand what it takes––both mentally and physically––to overcome extraordinary challenges.
In addition to pushing his own personal limits, Sarraille wants this expedition to serve a larger purpose––honoring and upholding the legacy of the 31 Americans service members who lost their lives ten years ago on Extortion 17. In addition to honoring their sacrifice, he hopes his expedition will inspire fellow veterans to keep moving forward.
“If I can set an example and get other veterans out into nature and doing their own challenges, that’s a victory for me,” said Sarraille.
As part of his mission, Sarraille is raising money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, with all proceeds going to the children of fallen Special Operations personnel. The money will be used to fund their education and uphold the memory of their parent.
“I hope people take a moment to look up Extortion 17 and read about the guys that were on there, 31 great Americans,” said Sarraille. “They were phenomenal men that our children should look up to and try to emulate in terms of character, integrity, loyalty, and all the attributes we hold dear.”
After meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, Sarraille and the team will be hiking into the Himalayan mountains to begin their two-week mission. After some initial hiking and acclimatization, the team will set up camp at Everest Base Camp. From here, the team will be doing a series of jumps, with each landing zone ascending in elevation. Syanboche will be the site of their first jump, with the landing zone sitting at 12,400 feet.
“From this point on, you have to earn your way,” said Fred Williams. “If you’re jumping beyond this point, that’s because you earned the right to go to the next jump.”
It only goes up from Syanboche, with each subsequent jump becoming progressively more difficult with the increased altitude. For Sarraille, he’s planning on keeping it simple.
“With this trip I’m taking it one step at a time, one jump at a time,” said Sarraille.