OCTOBER 2021

HONORING EXTORTION 17

ABOUT

Over the course of 15 days, the Mt. Everest Skydiving Expedition team conducted five jumps in the highest drop zones in the world in the Mt. Everest region, honoring the fallen warriors of Extortion 17. 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Extortion 17, the greatest single-incident loss of US lives in Operating Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan, on August 6th, 2011. 31 Americans lost their lives when their CH-47 (callsign ‘Extortion 17’) was shot down by the Taliban.

MISSION

  • Honor the 10-year anniversary of Extortion 17
  • Raise funds for Special Operations Warrior Foundation
  • Launch the first mission of Legacy Expeditions

OVERVIEW OF THE Expeditions

The
Team

Mike Sarraille

Founder & CEO of Legacy Expeditions, ATTA, and Talent War Group, Retired Navy SEAL and Recon Marine, Host of The Everyday Warrior Podcast

Mike Ortiz

MFF instructor, Parachute Rigger, Photographer, Account Executive, and Program Manager at Complete Parachute Solutions. “It was an honor to learn from and jump with Mike in Nepal.”

Fred Williams

Former U.S. Navy Seal & President of Complete Parachute Solutions

Dakota Williams

Complete Parachute Solutions Instructor

Tom Short

Former Navy SEAL, Leader at Gentex and OpsCore

Ryan Short

Complete Parachute Solutions Team Member, and the Youngest Skydiver at 19 to Jump into The World’s Highest Dz’s

Hugh Funk

Complete Parachute Solutions Instructor

Hunter Williams

Complete Parachute Solutions Instructor

Dr. Ryan Jackson

UK Medical Physician, Aviation Medicine and Major Trauma Resuscitation Expert

Elia Saikaly

Award-Winning Filmmaker

Dawa Steven Sherpa

Nepalese Sherpa, Adventurer, Entrepreneur, and Environnementaliste

The Journey

Mount Everest

26 Sep, 2021
September 26 – October 1: Elevation Training at Colorado

September 26 – October 1: Elevation Training at Colorado

Mike flew into Colorado for 5 days to undergo an Alpine Canopy Control Course with the Complete Parachute Solutions crew to prepare for the elevations he would encounter in the expedition. Read more about his training experience on Men’s Journal.

12 Oct, 2021
October 12: Departing Austin, TX

October 12: Departing Austin, TX

Mike said goodbye to his wife and departed on his 3-week journey, excited to see what was ahead!

13 Oct, 2021
October 13: Arriving at Everest

October 13: Arriving at Everest

The team arrived in Kathmandu, and they were greeted by the Asian Trekking team guides

15 Oct, 2021
October 15: The Terraces & Acclimatization

October 15: The Terraces & Acclimatization

The team drove into the mountains at the edge of Kathmandu, arriving to The Terraces Resort, where they stayed the first night

16 Oct, 2021
October 16: Flying to the World’s Most Dangerous Airport

October 16: Flying to the World’s Most Dangerous Airport

The team convened at 5:30 a.m. to catch a helicopter ride aboard an AS 350 B3 to Lukla, the world’s most dangerous airport, where Dawa’s Aunt gifts the team with Katas blessed by holy men – the team’s first Puja ceremony.

17 Oct, 2021
October 17: Preparing for the jumps at Namche

October 17: Preparing for the jumps at Namche

The group departs for Namche Bazaar and after about an hour and a half, we reach the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park––the home of Mt Everest. Sagarmatha (‘Goddess of the Sky’) is the Nepali name for Mt. Everest.

18 Oct, 2021
October 18 – 19: Puja

October 18 – 19: Puja

After breakfast, the team conducted the one-hour uphill trek to the Syangboche Airstrip, the first of three jump locations, where they will be jumping for the next three days. Following the airstrip familiarization, we hold a second Puja, this time led by Buddhist Monks, who bless our parachutes and skydiving equipment through an offering to the Mountain Gods. Read more about this here

20 Oct, 2021
October 20: Panorama

October 20: Panorama

On day eight, the weather prevented us from moving up to Syangboche for the jumps and delayed our arrival at the Everest Sherpa Resort––a lone tea house on a hilltop that provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the Khumbu region. The day wasn’t a waste, but rather an opportunity to get to know our fellow expedition team members – to learn their ‘why’ for the trip, as well as learn about their unique paths, families, and hopes for the future.

22 Oct, 2021
October 22: Syanboche

October 22: Syanboche

At Syangboche we set up for our first jumps, the first helicopter would consist of three of the most experienced jumpers – Dr. Ryan Jackson, and Dakota and Hunter Williams. What happened next is a testament to the violent power of the Everest region. A low-level cloud layer moving at 25+ knots climbed up over the ridge of the mountain and quickly overtook the drop zone, covering the entire airstrip, leaving the jumpers with no visual reference of the drop zone or where to land. The second group––Tom Short, Mike Ortiz, and I––donned our gear and loaded into the helicopter with palpable anxiousness and nervousness. Mike Ortiz, with almost 20,000 jumps, uses hand gestures signaling us to breathe and providing reassurance that we will execute a safe jump. I close my eyes and visualize each stage of my jump as if going through a mental checklist––a skill taught to me by mentors in the SEAL Teams and Marine Recon community.

 

No jumper was injured, and the group learned a valuable welcome lesson from Everest herself––conditions change quickly in one of the world’s harshest environments.

23 Oct, 2021
October 23: Ama Dablam

October 23: Ama Dablam

Once the helicopters reach Ama Dablam, we conduct a flight brief with the pilots and the first group—Dakota, Hunter, and Dr. Jackson—who proceed to load up. Mike Ortiz, Tom Short, and I load up and fly into the mouth of the valley. As the helicopter climbs to altitude, we cross close to several peaks, a tactic used by the pilots to gain lift from the anabatic winds. We turn into the final heading and are staring right at Ama Dablam. Once the release is given, I step off the skid and pull it within six seconds. The view is even more amazing than Syangboche.

 

On the trek back, we come across a small lake with the clearest water we’ve ever seen. I look at one of the expedition team members, a former 75th Ranger Regiment operator, and say, “Let’s do this.” The cameras come out as we strip down to our boxers and leap into the cold, unforgiving waters. In retrospect, it was a natural ice bath that felt damn good on the joints.

25 Oct, 2021
October 25: Ama Dablam

October 25: Ama Dablam

For day two of jumps at Ama Dablam, Fred Williams shifts the drop zone 50 meters closer to a finger running off Ama Dablam. The small linear DZ will serve as a confidence builder for the next day’s jumps at Gorakshep (17,500-foot drop zone). The entire team completes their jumps and like the last day at Syangboche, the group tightens their landings. Fred makes the decision to progress all jumpers to Gorakshep.

26 Oct, 2021
October 26: Gorakshep

October 26: Gorakshep

As dawn hits, the group understands this is the culmination jump, the last jump, for most of us—a bittersweet feeling. While the flight is scenic, Dakota and I focus on our respective mental checklists, preparing to execute a successful jump. The canopy opens and I turn towards Everest, knowing this will be my last jump. After 15 seconds of soaking in the view of Everest, feeling humble and fortunate for the opportunity, I turn and head toward the holding area. At about 15 meters from the DZ marker, I misjudge the depth of snow. My feet catch, causing me to faceplant. Despite the rough landing, the snow was soft, and I stand up laughing. Dakota and I return to Ama Dablam and help the remaining jump loads prepare. As Fred Williams returns from his jump, he realizes there’s only one jumper on the last load and offers a second jump to whoever will take it. I quickly raise my hand and he says, ‘Get it on.’ The second jump is icing on the cake, beyond how I imagined ending the day.

27 Oct, 2021
October 27: The West Col and our Return to Kathmandu

October 27: The West Col and our Return to Kathmandu

Elia, Tom, and I get the full benefit of a twin otter departure from Lukla, the world’s most dangerous airport. It lifts off the runway shortly before the runway ends and the cliff drops off. After an hour’s flight, we touch down at Kathmandu. Throughout the day, we text the group for updates on the West Col attempt. Dakota, Hunter, Fred Williams, Dr. Jackson, and one other jumper successfully complete the West Col jump. Tom, Elia, and I, though jealous, couldn’t be happier for our brothers.

28 Oct, 2021
October 28: Departing Kathmandu

October 28: Departing Kathmandu

After goodbyes with Tom and Elia, I depart for the airport and the long trek home. Despite the once-in-a-lifetime experience and the inspiring terrain of Everest, the greatest personal return from the trip was the lifelong relationships I built with each of the Expedition team members. I am better for the time I spent with these men.

29 Oct, 2021
October 29: Arriving in Austin, TX

October 29: Arriving in Austin, TX

Arriving two days ahead of my scheduled return, I land in Austin, pick up my Dutch Shepherd, Bane, and drive over to my wife’s work to surprise her. Bane led the way to confuse her but once she saw me, she ran into my arms with tears. I couldn’t think of a better way to finish my trip. I don’t think I will ever truly articulate the impact of this expedition, but maybe that’s the point. Some things can’t be explained, and some things are better left unsaid. All I can hope is that I helped keep the memory of our fallen brothers alive and will continue to do so.

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Sean Flynn :

 (SOC SEAL) (1970-2009):

On February 1, 2009, SOC (SEAL) Sean Flynn peacefully passed away from cancer. He was a highly decorated Special Operations Chief who earned three Bronze Stars with Valor and numerous other awards. Chief Flynn loved skydiving and was a certified advanced free fall instructor, tandem master, and an avid free flyer. He was attached to an East Coast-based SEAL team.

David Hall :

 (Navy SEAL) (1972-2020)

On February 1, 2009, SOC (SEAL) Sean Flynn peacefully passed away from cancer. He was a highly decorated Special Operations Chief who earned three Bronze Stars with Valor and numerous other awards. Chief Flynn loved skydiving and was a certified advanced free fall instructor, tandem master, and an avid free flyer. He was attached to an East Coast-based SEAL team.

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