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Paragliders fly up to plateau

Publish Time: 2018-09-11 Author: From: China Tibet Online

Dragging a paraglider behind him that weighs more than 10 kilograms, paraglider Dechen Woedrol ran along the hillside. The parachute gradually opened up, and his feet left the ground. The earth slowly grew farther away, and he was as free as a bird.

Every once in a while on the banks of the holy Yamdrok Yutso Lake in southwest China's Tibet, you can see people like Dechen Woedrol paragliding up in the sky. They are members of Tibet's paragliding team, and on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the "closest place to the sky", they fly even higher, armed with paragliders.

As an event at the Asian Games, paragliding has recently been launched in Tibet. The Tibet Paragliding Team was established in November 2014 and currently has six members, all of whom are Class B pilots recognized by the China Aviation Sports Association. When weather conditions permit, they will go to Yamdrok Yutso Lake or the suburbs of Lhasa on weekends to train, and every winter they travel to inland China for training.

Dechen Woedrol, the head of the Tibet Paragliding Team, believes that Tibetan athletes have the potential to achieve good results in this event in future.

"We have not yet begun participating in official competitions, but our members who have come from the mountaineering team were able to adapt well to high altitude, feeling neither fear nor discomfort the first time they went flying," Dechen Woedrol said.

In recent years, Tibet has been actively developing other outdoor activities related to mountains, and paragliding is one of them.

"Paragliding is also a good starting point for developing sports tourism," Dechen Woedrol said.

He said that non-competitive paragliding is a leisurely and pleasant sport, and it does not require much physical stamina. Overlooking the mountains and rivers of the plateau from the sky can be a new form of sightseeing. In addition, some mountain climbers would use paragliding parachutes to fly down after climbing up a mountain. Some even put skis on their feet and have a paragliding parachute on their backs, so that if there is no snow on the mountain, they can paraglide instead. All of these are new activities that the domestic mountaineering and outdoor industry can develop.

Pokhara in Nepal is famous for its paragliding industry. Dechen Woedrol once traveled there and experienced it, marveling at the economic income this outdoor sport brought to the local area. This year, he and his teammates are recording the weather each day at Yamdrok Yutso Lake and are also traveling to Gyirong Ravine, which is located at a relatively lower altitude near Mt. Qomolangma (known as Mt. Everest in west), to survey the area for potential paragliding development in future. As they develop paragliding venues, they make sure not to add new facilities to the mountains and lakes, so as not to damage the natural environment.

"We are also thinking about using powered paragliders in low-altitude rescue operations," Dechen Woedrol said. "For example, to transport an injured person from Mt. Qomolangma Base Camp at 6,500 meters high by flying would be much faster than by yak."

Of course, this can also be a business opportunity for high-end sports tourism.

Editor: Tommy Tan

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