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! 🙂
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