Time to get in the pilot's seat and buckle up: this is the epic skycombo flight of Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen from a different angle – theirs.
In real-time, this is the dramatic POV footage captured by their head and body cameras as they leapt from 10km above the ground (any higher and they would have needed pressurised suits), performed some signature synchro moves and then finished off with some close proximity flying down Mont Blanc's Peuterey ridge.
We were trying to go as close as possible
“We were as close as 10m to the rock, even less than 10m,” says Fred. “When you're flying so close, 10m is nothing! And sometimes we would hit turbulence and we'd have to go left or right and ease back. We were trying to go as close as possible, depending on the conditions.”
At 20,000ft, you don't want a bad opening
The flight lasted seven minutes in total, of which 40 seconds was freefall. “It's no so long, but our speed was very high,” adds Fred.
The guys were using sport rigs and high-performance parachutes that have a smaller surface area – just 9m² – which means they're faster and more manoeuvrable for tricks and swooping.
But there's a catch. At high-altitude, the air density is not so great which affects how they open and fly. “A sport rig is not something that's very easy to adapt for high altitude,” says Fred.
No one has ever tried to open a high-performance chute from this high before
“No one has opened a performance parachute above Mont Blanc or this high,” adds Fred. “Most are used to fly fast and close to the ground. The quality of the opening is not the same because the air density is less.
“At 20,000ft (6,000m), you don't want to have a bad opening. You need a good one!”
But thanks to a year of research and the combined efforts of the whole team, everything went smoothly for Fred and Vince. Well, as smoothly as it can go when you're jumping from high altitude through mid-afternoon turbulence. But the turbulence is another story.