This past summer I had a bit of a brush with ‘celebrity’ when Pema introduced me to his good friend Dale Covington. When I first heard that name I dreaded for a moment that I was going get stuck in a conversation about some form of Seven Habits, but I was far off the mark. Stephen COVEY is another inspiring local luminary, but Mr. Covington is more famous for excelling at jumping off of perfectly good cliffs or Himalayan mountains and paragliding for a graceful and thrilling ride down to safety. The day I met Dale he was taking Pema out for a few free rides under his veteran guidance from the location of his paragliding school at the edge of a mountain slope south of Salt Lake City. My fear of heights prevails over my sense of adventure, so I passed up an offer to join them. I admit I really enjoyed watching the Over Khumbu video of Dale’s expedition to Nepal for high elevation paragliding, but that clearly exceeds my personal limit of about six feet that I can comfortably fall to the ground.
I understand that paragliding originated from alpine skiers and rescue crews who needed a quick descent down high elevation mountains. At least that’s the rationalization they gave when they were ‘hot-dogging’ on the job. Dale now runs a top notch paragliding school here in northern Utah and he enjoys consistently favorable gliding conditions from his favorite “Point of the Mountain” staging base. He holds classes there and performs tandem flights. Each time I drive north of here to visit Salt Lake City I watch out for that certain spot and I am always amazed to see people softly gliding down or even slowly vaulting up higher as they catch onto rising thermals (no, not Long Johns). I’ve heard that the more skillful and experienced paragliders can make an extended cross-country flight up there, dangling from a big bed sheet flapping in the wind. Dale himself has managed some pretty long flights, and I’m sure he agrees it beats trying to find parking at the airport.Dale Covington digital video exploration landscape mountains nepal paragliding Trekking in Nepal Utah