Interview with the first women to skydive Everest; Holly Budge

Credit: Holly Budge


1.You are like superwoman! Most people have just one or two things that they are good at, but you seem to excel at everything, how so?!

That’s very kind of you to say so!! I started life as an adventurer at an early age & have always been hugely competitive to be the best that I can be!  I competed in pony club competitions throughout my childhood and I carried on to compete successfully in British Eventing and represented England on occasion. In my early twenties, I went travelling and discovered skydiving & rock-climbing. Both sports have taken me to many places around the globe. I have always had a love for the mountains. I did a season snowboarding in Steamboat, Colorado, which is one of my favourite places and more recently in Big Sky, Montana. But my latest adventures have involved mountaineering in the Himalayas. I have just climbed Buruntse (7129m) and plan to climb my first 8000m peak, Cho-Oyo this May. I absolutely love learning new skills, having new & exciting goals, & stepping out of my comfort zone whenever I can!


2. You are the first woman to skydive in front of Mount Everest…

What height did you jump from?

On October 6th 2008, I became the first woman to Skydive Everest by successfully jumping out of a plane at 29,500ft, looking onto the summit of Mount Everest and getting a bird’s eye view of some of the most breath-taking mountain scenery before landing on the world’s highest dropzone at 12,350ft! I freefalled past the mountain in excess of 140mph, in temperatures of -40C. It was an incredible experience!

Credit: Holly Budge

Credit: Holly Budge


3.What did you have to do different, jumping over Everest as opposed to the normal jumps you used to do every day?

Jumping over Everest was very different to any other skydive I had ever done and indeed, different to other high altitude jumps, because of the inhospitable terrain & conditions.

The first difference, besides the exit altitude of 29,500ft as opposed to the normal  12-15,000ft, was the temperature. I was jumping in -40 degrees. To help with the biting cold, I wore a full face neoprene face mask and a special insulated jump suit, so none of my skin was exposed.

The second difference was jumping with oxygen. I had never jumped with oxygen before so this felt strange! I had oxygen in the plane for the 45 mins ascent from 12,350ft and then I switched to an oxygen bottle for the freefall.

The third difference was the size of my parachute. It was three times the size of my normal chute but landed at the same speed due to the 12,350ft elevation of the landing area and the thinner air at that altitude.

The last main difference was the landing area. On three sides were 1000ft drop offs to the valley’s below. There were very few, if any, alternative places to land in this treacherous terrain, so it was imperative I made it back to the designated landing area. I almost had a “hick up” but thankfully made it back in one piece!


4.How many skydives have you completed to date?

I have over 2500 jumps, 1,200 have been with a camera strapped to some part of my body and I’ve only pulled my reserve parachute once!

Credit: Holly Budge

Credit: Holly Budge


5.How did you get involved in such a niche sport?

I started skydiving in 1999 when I went travelling with my brother Tom. I did my first tandem jump over Lake Taupo, in New Zealand, and I was absolutely blown away by it. I thought it was awesome that people were getting paid to jump out of aeroplanes for a job and I decided that was what I wanted to do. 12 months later, with a lot of hard work and training, I became the third woman ever to work in Lake Taupo as a freefall camera flyer!


6. In 2009, you completed the world’s longest horse race.

Where do you come up with these brilliantly random challenges?

The Mongol Derby was the brainchild of a Bristol-based company called The Adventurists.


7. You rode 25 semi wild Mongolian horses…

Bareback or with a saddle?

I used a tree-less canvas saddle as the Mongolian saddles are made from wood and would have caused me huge amounts of pain!


8.How was your backside after that?!

I was pretty fortunate as I didn’t have too many sores, considering I spent up to 13 hours in the saddle for nine days straight!! It was a tough, gruelling nine days though & I lost 9 kgs during that time. But I had trained pretty hard in the months leading up to it, riding up to 6 hours a day, so I felt pretty strong & prepared for the challenge.


9.You climbed Mount Buruntse and snowboarded from the summit of Mera Peak in Nepal and are a qualified rock climbing instructor.

Do you have any free time?!

Not much!

Credit: Holly Budge

Credit: Holly Budge


10. What is it driving you to be so accomplished across the board?

I love the outdoors and the adventures that go with it! Being an adventurer has allowed me to travel to some of the world’s remotest and most inhospitable places. I have met some hugely inspiring individuals on the way and I really love the unknown element of adventure & travelling, and pushing myself as much as I can!

I also support various charities by raising funds through my adventures and it is very rewarding to visit places and see projects in action that I have helped raise money for. This is a huge driving force for me.


11. What’s next for you?

My lifelong dream is to stand on the top of the world and climb Mount Everest, which I hope to do next year. I am currently looking for a sponsor, to help me achieve this.

I also plan to climb other mountains and fly my canopy back down from the summit!

As an adventurer, I am always on the look out for new challenges.

I enjoy sharing tales of my adventures through motivational and after-dinner speaking – emphasising how important it is to set goals in life, seize opportunities and overcome challenges.


Follow Holly’s Adventures:


Twitter: @hollybudge

Facebook: Holly Budge


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