Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 2 – Episode 3

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another episode of Everest: Beyond The Limit on The Discovery Channel. This episode is titled Judgement Day as the climbers are on their way to Camp 2, trying to beat a deadline, and prove that they are capable of going for the Summit.

The episode opens with the climbers halfway up to C2 and struggling with the lack of oxygen and the unusual heat on the mountain. Typically at that point on the mountain temperatures can be quite cold, but on the day of the climb it was 85 degrees and everyone suffered from dehydration and over heating.

The one climber who did make it to Camp 2 on time, and in great shape, was David Tait. This episode finally clued viewers in on his epic attempt at the double traverse. The plan is to start on the North Side summit,

then proceed down the South Face of Everest where he would rest for a few days before climbing back up the mountain from the South side and then continue down the North Face, returning to where he started. The double traverse has never been done before, and we see David set off to make an attempt at his goal. As the strongest climber on the team, he is sent on his way well ahead of everyone else.

One of the more interesting elements of this episode was watching team leader Russell Brice and his guides discussing which of the climbers would be given the opportunity to go for the summit and which would be sent down the mountain.

Hearing them talk candidly about each of the team members and who had the best chances of reaching the summit was one of the better moments of the season thus far, in my opinion.

The last portions of the show showed Brice meeting with the different climbers to discuss their abilities to go up the mountain. Mogens makes the team, although it’s clear Brice is concerned that he has struggled on the mountain and is going up without oxygen. The meeting with Tim was candid and to the point. Brice tells him he’s going up, but he needs to be prepared to go on time and move at a good pace.

Finally, Brice sits down with Betsy Huelskamp, who struggled the most on the way to C2, and at one point collapsed in the snow, laying there for quite some time, and ultimately being sent back down to ABC without ever reaching the goal of Camp 2.

On top of that, her in experience has shown through, as it’s been mentioned on more than one occasion that she put her crampons on both upside down AND backwards. Brice tells here he doesn’t think she is strong enough to go up, and her attempt ends there. The show ends with the various team members weighing in on Betsy being left off the team.

Obviously Betsy has been a source of controversy on the Internet for several months. I wrote this article back when her story broke, and then wrote this counter point after seeing the first episode of Beyond The Limit.

Clearly, back when the story broke, and I wrote that first piece, we didn’t have the full story, and it’s hard to argue with the visual evidence on display. Betsy collapsed in the snow, looked exhausted, and admitted that she didn’t feel strong enough to go up. We also didn’t see any indications of Brice treating her unfairly, and by all accounts, it seemed the other team members felt like she didn’t belong.

Now that I have seen the show, clearly I jumped to unfair conclusions from the early reports and for that I’m terribly sorry. I don’t think Russell Brice reads this blog, nor gives two craps what I write, but I apologize none the less for believing one side of the story without seeing the complete picture. Clearly, leaving Betsy off the summit team was the right call, and I’m happy to admit it.

Kraig Becker

20 thoughts on “Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 2 – Episode 3”

  1. I’m grateful that Brice took her in as a potential team member. Someone else may have taken her in just to leave her to an uncertain and possibly tragic end.

  2. She seems completely out of place, and probably shouldn’t have been on the mountain at all. Clearly she wasn’t ready for the climb and should have done some prep work this year to be on Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 3. 🙂

  3. I’m not at all a climber but I’m very interested in it and enjoy watching this show. And while I’d like to start climbing some day I certainly wouldn’t start with Everest. Now I don’t know much about Betsy’s history but I do admire her lofty goal, however, I think that Brice was right not to allow her to attempt the summit. Not only would she have been a liablity to his whole operation but to the Sherpas and climbing guides.

    Also, please correct me if I’m wrong but I thought Brice required his climbers to have climbed higher mountains before he would allow them on his Everest expeditions at all? It seems to me that if Betsy had fulfilled this requirement then she would have certainly known how to put on her crampons, etc.

  4. azzfan: She and Brice exchanged letters before the climb with Betsy telling David what her experience level was. She even published the letters in her blog to show the conversation. Brice told her that he’d prefer she had experience on another 8000m peak before trying Everest, but the later changed his mind and allowed her to come on the trip anyway, at a greatly reduced rate. Why he did this is still a bit of a mystery.

    Betsy wasn’t without some experience. If I recall correctly she had gone up as high as 20k feet, although I don’t remember which mountain she was on. But it had been some time since she had done so, and obviously she lacked experience and practical skills.

  5. This is a very dull season so far. Everyone from the producers on down are trying too hard to find a way to make it interesting. They even added those special effects!

    From the past three episodes, it seems like Betsy is primarily focused on being “The Character” of this second season. Maybe the producers wanted a female counterpart to Tim. Doesn’t seem to be working.

    It would be great if an episode was devoted to the story of any of the expedition sherpas – watching what they do to get ready; preparing to leave their families – what they really think as they’re putting all of their lives on the line on the mountain.

    Would also be interesting to see a “Before May” episode focused on Brice – going through client selection process and everything he does to organize the operation.

    The only thing truly exciting about this season, so far, is beautiful Everest herself. She’s breathtaking even on the small screen.

    Just my $ .02.

  6. Oh, I see. I knew she and Brice had talked prior to her joining the expedition, but I wasn’t sure of her skill level. Thanks for clearing that up for me!

  7. I’d have to agree that I enjoyed last year’s episodes more. This feels kind of like “been there, done that” so far. Especially with Tim and Mogens on the team again.

    Everest does look great. Especially in High Def! One of the best additions of this year.

    Azz: Yeah, they had several correspondences, with Brice telling her at one point that she could join the climb if she could put together the cash, and then later saying she could come at the reduced rate since she was having a hard time coming up with the $50k. That’s still a bit mind boggling. And in episode 1 it was clear her skills were not up to par.

  8. Hello-

    I’ve only just begun watching this season’s “Everest: Beyond The Limit,” but Ms. Betsy has struck me as nothing but a whiner. She complains about absolutely everything, and has none of the excitement about her situation that the other expedition members have. I had already heard about the controversy surrounding her before I began watching this season, so I’ve been watching the episodes admittedly biased. However, not including her on the summit team was the smartest thing that Brice could’ve done. And as you’ve all said, that’s also his job.

    I am an aspiring mountaineer, but I would never presume to start with Everest, or even Rainier. I’m hoping to start with a guided hike up a Colorado 14er. 🙂

    On another note, this blog rocks! Thanks Adventure Junkie.

  9. Hello-

    I’ve only just begun watching this season’s “Everest: Beyond The Limit,” but Ms. Betsy has struck me as nothing but a whiner. She complains about absolutely everything, and has none of the excitement about her situation that the other expedition members have. I had already heard about the controversy surrounding her before I began watching this season, so I’ve been watching the episodes admittedly biased. However, not including her on the summit team was the smartest thing that Brice could’ve done. And as you’ve all said, that’s also his job.

    I am an aspiring mountaineer, but I would never presume to start with Everest, or even Rainier. I’m hoping to start with a guided hike up a Colorado 14er. 🙂

    On another note, this blog rocks! Thanks Adventure Junkie.

  10. Hi Sara!

    Welcome to the blog. Glad you like it! 🙂

    Starting with the 14ers in Colorado should keep you plenty busy for awhile, and it’s a great place to build experience and learn the ropes, pun fully intended. 😉

    Everest is obviously no place for a beginner. It’s just too tough, but I do admire Betsy for giving it a go. I’m not sure about all the “life long dream” talk that was thrown about though, as it was stated she decided to climb after interviewing Tim. That alone seems like such a lark.

  11. I just finished watching last night’s episode, and want to retract my name-calling. I shouldn’t have called her a whiner; it does seem like Discovery Channel wanted to make “her” the character of the season, as someone else suggested. I forget how heavily edited these things are, to follow a prescribed story plan. I think it’s amazing that there was a woman on the team to begin with; I hope that are more women in the seasons to follow.

    I thought that one of the most interesting things in general about last night’s episode was to see the change in everyone’s appearance. Already people are starting to look gaunt–they’ve lost a lot weight.

    Adventure Junkie, maybe once I learn the ropes in Colorado, I can be a basecamp doctor!

    Climb on friends!

  12. I agree, I love this blog and hope that at you are aware how important it is for us to keep informed about the outdoors. Even though I do not comment, be rest assured I am checking in twice a day.
    This whole Everest thing is so poorly done this year except the HD part. Why not come back with a different guiding company, focus more on the Sherpas, the selection process the real meat of the program. Discovery, in my view has completely failed this year. I know what Everest looks like, I know what ABC and the rest of the resting areas look like. Give us a story!
    Besty: You know what, I hold Brice responsible for this whole ordeal. She does not have the experience and neither does Tim. I belive this whole Besty thing is not even a story. What should be a story is how she was treated. Maybe the team should be shown on film how they feel about her getting such a big discount when they had to pay the full amount.
    I hope they focus more on David Tait and his summit and then the humility he showed in the end with his Sherpa.

  13. Lawrence, thank you so much for your comments as well. They are greatly appreciated, and I’m glad you enjoy the blog enough to drop by a couple of times a day. I appreciate you doing that and posting comments as well. 🙂

    I’m mostly underwhelmed with the season as whole thus far too. I’m hoping that things get going soon and we start to see some new things. At times right now, it feels like a re-run of season 1. More of David Tait would be great and how about Rod Baber? We know he’s there but that’s about it.

    Sara: Are you already a doctor? If so, and you have a love for climbing, you can definitely find yourself on expeditions like ones to Everest or some of the other big climbs. Not only would likely get your climb paid for, they would probably pay you a salary too. It’s a great way to climb without spending a lot of your own cash. Expeditions always need doctors.

    Now I just have to figure out a way to convince them they need bloggers too! 🙂

  14. I am not here to defend Betsy. I do think it was the right call to not let her attempt the summit. Although, this statement, “I apologize none the less for believing one side of the story without seeing the complete picture,” is what made me pause from your post.

    Maybe you only mean not seeing the full extent of how unprepared she was. But do you really feel this Discovery show gives you the “complete picture”?

    It does not really matter in the end though. I still feel she should not have gone up, but I have a feeling part of Betsy’s argument was due to the reactions and conversations she had off camera or at least not run in the show.

    I too also fault Russel for part of it because he let her come. (Although, I still feel he gave her a reduced rate knowing she would not make the summit team. But then why take her at all?)

  15. No, I doubt Discovery is giving us the complete picture either. We’re getting the edited version of what they want to show us. But my first post on the topic, way back in August, was clearly very one sided and only from Betsy’s perspective. After watching the first episode, it became very clear that there was her side of the story, Brice/Discovery’s side of the story, and somewhere in the middle was the truth. I think there was a general over reaction to Betsy’s story back when it broke on the web, as some people in the climbing community rushed to defend her and take her side.

    My second posting on the topic, which came after the first episode, tried to take a step back and see things from both sides, as far as the information we were getting. Not having been there, it’s impossible to say for sure where the truth is exactly, but there were definitely inconsistencies with her story and what was shown on screen. Next week’s episode may be very telling as well, although it’s again unlikely that Discovery would show Brice treating her poorly as she claims that he did.

    But, as I’ve said before, it’s clear that she didn’t deserve to be on the team, but the questions are still there as to why she was allowed to come in the first place, and at such a substantial discount. Perhaps the “After The Climb” show will help shed some light on that stuff.

    I have gotten a bit cynical about the show though, and wondering exactly how much they are editing out and not showing us. I felt that way about last season too, as I believe that they really glossed over the David Sharp stuff.

  16. The show does only have an hour to cover things, so of course it’s going to be heavily edited. I think they’ve missed the mark on what they’ve chosen to leave in; however, as the season is sort of a snooze. 🙂

    As for Bets and Brice, not to take sides, but based only on the portion of the e-mail Betsy shared, it did not sound like Brice was so far off base to consider giving her a shot.

    “I’ve been to Chulu Far East, and Thorong Peak in the Annapurnas with Al Burgess of Camp 5… I have worked on both pro and national ski patrol for more than 10 years, so I have a considerable amount of advanced first aid on the mountain. I have done loads of trekking all over the world — Milford Sound in New Zealand, and Machu Pichu in Peru — but I believe the highest Al took us was around 20,000 feet. I have been a serious athlete my whole life, and have worked as a personal trainer most of my adult years. I am a first degree black belt in Kung Fu San Soo, and I’ve been diving in nearly every ocean. My mental strength supersedes my physical strength, and at 46, I am in the best shape of my life…”

    And we don’t know what kind of discussion Brice and Betsy had in their face to face meeting. A number of people much less physically fit than Betsy purports to be have climbed and summitted Everest. It would seem that Brice must have had some reason, and some measure of confidence, to let her sign on.

    Maybe it had to do with Discovery and mixing it up for the show. Maybe not. Who knows? Perhaps that’s why Betsy was offered a cut rate deal. It’s all speculation. (But on that point, it’s Brice’s biz. First rule of business: Everything is negotiable.)

    What we do know is that clearly, things did not work out.

    Brice ultimately did his job and protected his staff and his clients.

    Betsy was hugely disappointed and hurt, but judging from the footage (and I think something would have shown even with editing) it certainly did not appear that Brice ambushed her with a total lack of regard or compassion. Betsy said she felt ganged up on and defeated, but she herself absolutely refused to admit or see the danger she could cause for herself, her guides and teammates. How could she have been surprised that based on her performance she might not be offered a spot on the summit team?
    In that regard, I think she was a little delusional, and Brice – who, in fairness, did give her more every opportunity to redeem herself and show she could cut it – had not choice but to step in and handle the unpleasant task of telling her she was not going to be part of the summit team.

  17. In his first letter to Betsy, Brice told her that he recommended that she had experience on another 8000m peak before doing Everest, which obviously she didn’t.

    That said though, her experience is not to be disregarded, but trekking and climbing are two very different things, and going up to 20,000 feet isn’t even ABC on Everest. But still, it was Brice’s call and I suppose he had his reasons for taking her along.

    The video that we’ve seen is a far cry from how Betsy first described it. At least from my eyes. Brice actually looked like it pained him to break the news to her. But in the end, it was the only thing to do.

  18. Interesting perspectives and they pretty much mirror what I’ve been feeling after seeing the first few episodes of the show. It seems that Everest BC is a small place and word spreads fast, as the other teams seem to know a lot about Betsy and what happened with Brice.

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