Paragliders record never-before-seen footage of world's second-tallest mountain

Two pilots paraglide to the top of the world, K2, for the first time ever. They captured stunning video of areas rarely or never seen before.

For the first time ever, two paraglider pilots flew to K2 and glided within 1,100 yards of the summit. They brought home never before seen views.

"The images that will stay forever in my head, those views," said Belgian paraglider Tom de Dorlodot to a Red Bull pool journalist at base camp. "It was the first time that people get into that area near K2 and fly, and it was also the first time it was ever recorded."

The incredible flight to the world's second-highest mountain happened in July, but the recently released footage shows the incredible views of their journey. 

Red Bull calls the men the "world’s top adventure paraglider pilots." The extreme athletes set up base camp on the foot of the Baltoro Glacier at around 10,000 feet above sea level. While acclimatizing to the altitude, they practiced with several shorter flights for about four weeks. The dozen or so 60-mile flights usually lasted between 5 and 6 hours.

Conquering K2

The goal, which they called the ‘Grand Slam,’ was to fly around three nearby iconic mountains then to K2. A trip never before flown by the non-motorized, foot-launched, collapsible gliders would last about 7 hours as the pair "hop-skip and jumped" over to K2, according to Red Bull.

In the hop/skipping, the team needed to gain as much altitude as possible before trying to fly over K2 at 28,251 feet. The team caught thermals, or warm updrafts, and circled, like birds, climbing over to the monstrous mountain.

"(A challenge) to fly above glaciers, which has no landing options and to fly as safe as possible in this environment," said Spanish paraglider Horatio Llorens. "Like flying above fire, you cannot land."



De Dorlodot told Red Bull, "If you land on the Baltoro Glacier, the trek out can take seven days – it’s just ice, moraine and rocks."


The men bundled up in down feather suits like the ones worn by high-altitude climbers.

"The biggest challenge probably was to fight against very cold conditions. Up there it was -30 degrees (Celsius) sometimes. I mean, it's really, really challenging to be able to fly paragliding so high," said Spanish paraglider Horatio Llorens. 


The thin air at that altitude only holds about a third of the oxygen as air at sea level. Rapid ascent can mean a sudden loss of consciousness, according to Red Bull. So the men flew with a constant stream of extra oxygen through masks. Oxygen saturation monitors alerted the men if levels were too low forcing both to abort the flight.

"Going from 5,000 m to 8,000 m in an hour is extreme," said de Dorlodot. "Your body is not made for that."

Supplies were also scarce and rationed because landslides cutoff road access. The men treated themselves to an egg and one potato on flight days.

Final flights

Once they got to K2’s face, they rode the wind. The strong horizontal winds at altitude slam into the mountain and are forced up. Unfortunately winds were relatively light, so the pair couldn’t make it over K2’s peak. They did make it to 24,858 feet. 

The team even stayed an extra week to try the flight again. But nature still didn’t provide. The team returned victorious though with a documentary.


"This kind of footage has never been seen before. To shoot this quality even 5 years ago would not have been possible," de Dorlodot told Red Bull. "It was just us – no camera crew of helicopters helping out – they don't even go above 6,000 m in this part of the world!"

The world record for the highest paragliding flight was over Broad Peak, the nearby mountain. The pilot reached 27,582 feet. Paragliders have launched from Mt. Everest before after hiking their gear up and descending, but have never flown over. Mount Everest is the world’s highest peak at 29,028 feet. 

K2 is part of the Karakoram Range which spans China, Pakistan and Kashmir. K2 is the symbol given to Mount Godwin Austen because it was the second peak surveyed in the range, according to