Everest: Beyond The Limit – Episode 4 thoughts

Beyond The Limit – Episode 4: So I literally just finished watching the fourth episode of Everest: Beyond The Limit on the Discovery Channel and wanted to share my thoughts.

You’ll recall that I didn’t have a whole lot of flattering things to say about the first two episodes, but I thought that things picked up in the third when they finally started to climb. Well, the momentum that the show built up in that third episode carried over into the fourth, and I’m happy to say it was, in my opinion, the best episode yet.

The four-episode was once again all about the climb, as Team 1 made its summit bid, and Team 2 moved up to Camp 4 to make their bid next week. After three episodes, you now have a sense of who these climbers are and what they are out to prove on the mountain, so it’s hard not to pull for them. Team 1 consisted of Terry O’Connor, the team’s doctor, Mogens Jensen, the asthmatic climber from Denmark who made a bid without bottled oxygen, and one of the team guides.

Brett Merrell, the LA Fireman, was also a part of this team but turned back in the last episode when he couldn’t acclimatize properly. Team 2 is made up of Mark Inglis, the climber from New Zealand who lost his legs to frostbite some years ago and is attempting to become the first double amputee to summit Everest. He’s joined by Biker Tim Medvetz and Max Chaya, the climber from Lebanon that we strangely know little about four episodes in.

Up until this point, Mogens was the strongest of the climbers, but the team was forced to wait for a weather window, and an extra night at Camp 3, without bottled oxygen, had its effect on him. Shortly after leaving for Camp 4 and moving above 26,000 feet into the Death Zone, he started to experience problems catching his breath. Soon he was feeling light-headed and decided to turn back.

It was evident that he suffered from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and would have to return to Base Camp. Mogens was a likable guy with a good story and someone easy to cheer for, so it was tough to see the guy that seemed most likely to summit have to turn back. But that’s how it is on Everest. The strongest climbers can be laid low by AMS, especially when climbing without supplemental oxygen.

As the show progressed, the climbers made their way up the mountain. I learned a lot more about the route on the North Side. I’m much more familiar with the Southern, more traditional route, so it was interesting for me to see how the Northside differed and what obstacles were in the climbers’ way when they made their push for the summit from Camp 4.

As it turns out, the biggest obstacle was the traffic jam on the first and second steps. Because of having to wait an extra day at Camp 3 for the weather window to open, other teams caught up and passed the expedition. As a result, when they went to make their summit attempt, Team 1 ended up getting caught behind two other teams moving very slowly up the mountain.

These segments helped hammer home what these traffic jams are like and how dangerous they can be, both going up and coming down the mountain. It’s crazy how bad things have gotten on the mountain, and this is climbing from the Northside, which traditionally has less traffic.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the quality of the show these past two episodes. The focus on climbing and showing us the route and the technical issues of getting to the summit has really helped to make things more interesting. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to seeing the next two episodes and finally making it to the top. And who isn’t rooting for the burly biker dude, Tim Medvetz, to shut-up all his doubters and stand on the top of the world?

Oh! And the cheesy “Ever…ever..ever…rest…rest…rest” dialog from the past episodes, the ones that sounded like they were right out of a bad horror flick, were all but non-existent in this episode. Thank god! Maybe someone over at Discovery Channel reads my blog! 🙂

Kraig Becker

17 thoughts on “Everest: Beyond The Limit – Episode 4 thoughts”

  1. The footage of the traffic jam between the first and third steps truely illustrated the present day situation on Mt. Everest. Far too many people who have no business being on that mountain risking the lives of those around them.

    Seeing footage likes this makes it no surprise that so many climbers died on the mountain this year. Climbing Everest is tough enough without throwing a large number of inexperienced climbers into the mix.

    I’m really enjoying this series. The footage has been great, especially the helmet cam footage on the summit attempt. The views are breathtaking.

    Watching this show just gets me pumped from my plans for next year. I’ll hopefully be attempting Mt. Rainier under the watchful eye of the experts at Rainier Mountain Guides.

  2. I have to agree with your Carl. I’m really enjoying the show more than I thought I would at this point as well. The show has really come into it’s own now that they’ve gotten to the climb, and we’re seeing more of what it takes to get to the top.

    And you’re right, the footage is stunning. Some great shots of the mountain, and the surrounding mountains. I just wish it was in HD. Of course, I wish EVERYTHING was in HD. 🙂

  3. I had to laugh at a couple of things in the episode.

    First, the doctor starts to complain about his frostnipped finger and proceedes to count them on his gloved hand. Where are his mittens?

    The second was Moges talking about how he didn’t want to use oxygen so that he could test his body or some such nonsense. He says this as he is popping who knows how many pills for his Asthma. I don’t see the difference between the pills and supplemental O2.

    Plus, blaming his AMS on the extra night is disengenuous. If he hadn’t had the extra night, he would have been on the summit push when it became a problem. He also would have spent the night at camp 4 instead of 3, so his AMS probably would have arrived sooner and more acutely, with potentially more serious consequences if he was above CAMP4.

    I also found lots of irony in the semmingly inexperienced team berrating the “gumbys” in their way. Oh, well, I do the same thing frequently when I go climbing so I guess I can’t blame them. Its just funny that there is a bottle neck only becaue everyone is climbing the same fixed lines and aluminum ladders instead of an actual route on rock, snow, and ice.

  4. Yeah, I noticed that about the doctor as well. He was wearing gloves, but not mittens. You would think he would want to take extra care considering that his hands are how he makes a living.

    Mogens popping the drugs didn’t bother me too much, as he’d have to do that at pretty much any altitude. They simply help him to breathe normally, and have no regard to the fact that he was at 26,000 feet up. He would have zero chance without the drugs, but with them, he at least could give it a shot to reach the summit.

    It is true that it’s hard to say how much the extra night in Camp 3 played into his AMS. He may have had nothing to do with it at all. Plus, the extra night provided some rest for the team, which they may not have had otherwise. But you’re right, he should be glad it happened above Camp 3, and not Camp 4, where it could have been a lot more dangerous.

    Berating the other climbers seems to come with the territory when you have experienced climbers clashing with newbs on the mountain. Plus, they pretty much have to share the same route up Everest. It isn’t like there are lots of alternatives.

  5. There really wasn’t any indication in the show that the protagonists were actually more experienced than the Chinese team, just moving a little faster.

    Plus, It doesn’t appear to me that most of the climbers on the show are really all that experienced. They have a couple (at least one) of guided (by commercial guides) expeditions under their belts, but that appears to be about it.

    I’m enjoying the show, but it just shows how the trade routes on Everest are pretty much a commercial endevour being tackled by fairly inexperienced “climbers” prodded along by commercial guides. I can’t help but to wonder how many of the clients are capable of leading their own climb of a mountain as moderate as Rainier.

  6. You’re right. We really don’t know how experienced the climbers are in Brice’s group, but we do know that Brett was on Everest before, and that Mogens seems to have a lot of experience. Max, who we know little about, is listed as a Lebanese “adventuerer” which seems to hint that he has some experience as well.

    Team 1 consisted of the doctor and a guide when they went for the summit. The guide clearly has tons of experience, and from the looks of it, the Doctor does too. He was strong on the climb, and reached the summit without any major incidences. That seemed to indicate to me that he was more experienced than the much slower climbers they were stranded behind.

    And I agree with you about these trade routes. This past episode was a great example of how crowded it has gotten up there. It’s crowds like that that lead to dangerous situations, like prolonged exposure and taking too long to get up and down. The show illustrated that point very well.

  7. Actually if you read the Discovery.com website for the Everest show or read up on any of the members on the Himex/Brice team you will see that they are experienced.

    None of them are inexperienced climbers.

    Max Chaya had the other 7 summits under his belt by the time he joined this expedition. He has also stood on both the North and South poles.

    Mark Inglis lost his legs climbing in the early 80’s and is an accomplished mountaineer.

    Mogens Jensen is a climbing superstar in his native Denmark and is an extremely strong athlete.

    Terry O’Conner has a lot of mountain experience, and parlayed that into his career as he is an expert in high altitude medicine.

    Brett Merrell and Tim Medvetz were probably the least experienced, and even then this was Brett’s second attempt at climbing Everest and Tim lived and climbed in the Everest region for six months after recovering from his motorcycle accident and getting the climbing bug. They were certainly the least experienced.

    Overall they had a lot of experience considering it was a commercial guide/client style expedition.

    It was obvious that the Chinese team was loaded with inexperienced climbers and guides that didn’t really care. Just the fact that so many of them were bunched up together on the summit push is a good example of this.

    Brice’s team was grouped into small teams that would attempt to summit on different days to avoid the same situation the Chinese team caused… too many climbers attempting the summit at the same time.

  8. Awesome points Carl! The only one of the group whose history is not really brought up on the show is Max, who we really see little of for some reason. Perhaps he had no interest in being much of a part of it.

    But yeah, the website does list their credentials, and they all have plenty of experience. Especially the non-American climbers, who all have impressive resumes.

    Thanks for pointing this out!

  9. I am addicted to this show. My hero is Tim he is so bad ass!!!
    I look forward to watching the show each week. I never watch T.V but someone told me about the show so I have watched it each week.
    I plan on climbing Everest in 2011. I have a lot of training to get ready 😉

  10. Hi Catra,

    Glad you’re enjoying the show and thanks for dropping by my blog.

    2011 will be here before you know it, so start training now. Are you planning any other climbs before hand?

  11. Love the blog! Yes, I will do Kilimanjaro next year just to see how I do. I will do Denali and I’m sure a few others.
    I am an Ultrarunner I run 50 & 100 mile trail races. My favorite distance is 100 miles 🙂
    I also fast pack have the woman’s record on the John Muir trail and the Yo Yo record too 424 miles in 12 days. I hiked 2,000 miles of the Pacific crest trail that goes from Mexico to Canada this year. But only made it to Sisters Oregon. 700 miles short of my goal.
    That’s ok I will start again next year and go for the woman’s record. I need to hike the 2,700 mile trail in under 91 days.
    I love Tim Medvetz, like me I read into Thin air and it made me really want to climb Everest. it would scare most people away. Not me.
    I plan on heading to Base camp in 2009. I will sell my house in 2010 to help pay for my journey. I plan on getting a lot of sponsors to. I know a lot of people so I shouldn’t have a problem.
    Have a great night. off to run a 30 mile training run in Yosemite tomorrow. Good night.

  12. Ah-hah! So you’re THAT Catra! 😉 Of course I know who you are. I followed your adventure on the PCT. You’re definitely an amazing endurance athlete, and it sounds like you’re taking some great steps to prepare yourself for Everest, unlike a certain someone who was on the show. 😉

    Have you decided on the North or South side yet? BTW, when you do Kili, be sure to schedule some time for a Safari as well. I did both last year and it was an amazing time. Tent safari all the way! 🙂

  13. HEEE HEEE HEEE…Yep, the same Catra. I will be on the PCT again come May.
    I’m still not sure what side. I always thought most people go from the South side but after watching the show I’m thinking maybe the North side. I was thinking about going on trek in 2009 through the Khumba ice falls. We will see, I do know I will be in Base camp somewhere hanging out in 2009.
    Yes, I of course am planning on doing the Safari.
    What guide company did you use when you went.

  14. Catra,

    It’s a real pleasure to have you reading my blog and commenting. 🙂 I’ll lok forward to your PCT reports again. 🙂

    When I was in Africa I went with Duma Explorer, and they were excellent. I chose them for several reasons. For one, they are locally owned right in Tanzania, so everything I spent went directly to the Tanzanian economy. I prefer that when I travel as opposed to some company in U.S. or the U.K. getting a chunk of the cash.

    They are also small and independent, allowing them to be more flexible and cater more to your needs. Everyone was very friendly, and they were quickly able to adapt to any issues that might arise. They also communicated very well at every phase of the journey, which helped to prepare me better, and kept me very well informed. They were a real pleasure to deal with.

    I went in April, which is the “low season” due to it also being the rainy season. However, it didn’t rain much at all. Because it was the off season though, there were only two of us on Kili and four of us on Safari. It made for an amazing experience.

    If you would like to know more about Kili, Duma or the safari, feel free to drop me a note at my direct e-mail address. I’m at kungfujedi@gmail.com I’m happy to share anything I can with you. 🙂

    BTW, here is the website for Duma:

  15. Hey Adventure Junkie-
    Thanks so much for all the beta I will contact you soon. I do have questions. I like the idea of using guides in Tanzinia. I have a friend(fellow ultrarunner) Simon who lives there. He comes to the U.S usually around May-June to run Ultras.
    I think he has the speed record on Kilimanjaro. Unless it’s been broken by someone else.

    I will look into the company you used. I was planning on going in October 2008.
    I am enjoying reading all the post & links. Great blog.
    Looking forward to Tuesday night 😉

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