Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 2 – Episode 4


The Discovery Channel aired the fourth episode of Everest: Beyond The Limit tonight, resuming right where we left off last week.

When we ended the third episode, Betsy Huelskamp had just been told by expedition leader Russell Brice that she wouldn’t be allowed to go up the mountain, and this episode opened with Betsy saying that she’s never given up at anything, and that perhaps it’s a good thing that the decision was taken out of her hands. Rather interesting and quite telling in my opinion considering what she wrote in her blog upon her return. We also get a quick update on David Tait, who is already at the top of the North Col as he begins his attempt at the Double Traverse. Mr. Overly Dramatic Narrator fills us in on the attempt, mostly replaying what we saw last week.

Next, Russell separates the climbers into two teams, one fast, one slow. The fast one includes Rod Baber, who we’ve seen a few times already, and Tim Medvetz, who we’ve seen far too much. There are two other men on the fast team as well, but we haven’t seen them at all, and I couldn’t help but wonder “Who are these guys”? The fast team sets out to make their summit bid, and the slow team will follow one day behind. Of course, Tim lags behind again, giving Discovery the opportunity to show us the animation of his rebuilt body once more.

This episode sees the climb begin in ernest, with the focus shifting on the climbers starting to their ascent. David is well out in front, being the strongest of them all and going for the double traverse. But we get to see the main teams making their preparations and working their way up to ABC to get into position to begin their assault on Everest in a traditional siege style climb.

The camera work tends to be top notch as usual, and the use of helmet cams allows for some very interesting shots as well Some of the great footage that has already been shown includes Phurba changing David’s oxygen bottle just a few hundred feet below the summit, and then later both men standing on the summit itself and weighing their options for going down the South Side, which at that point didn’t even have fixed robes in place yet. Watching David and Phurba together can give you a true appreciation for high altitude mountaineering and watching the intricacies of the climb, such as switching out the bottles, is excellent stuff.

The show is most compelling when it gets to the action of the climb itself and skips most of the other drama. Everest is compelling enough, without any kind of soap opera at Advanced Base Camp, and it seems that at this point of the show, they’ve realized that. I suspect the rest of the shows will be more tightly focused on the ascent, and will be more interesting to watch.

While at times this season, the show feels a lot like a retread of last year, with similar stories and repeated animations. However one of the bright spots for me this year has been the inclusion of Monica Piris Chavarri, the team doctor for this attempt on Everest. She’s witty, candid, and intelligent, and her personality shows through in each episode. She’s a welcome addition to the show, and Discovery would do well to highlight her more regularly.

The show ends with David and Phurba beginning their descent on the South Side. The two will have to rope themselves together and rely on their climbing skills to get down, since conditions on the South Face are not anything like the North, to the point of not even having any ropes in place yet. Meanwhile, in ABC, the “fast” team prepares to being their assault. We’ll have to tune in next week to see how things go.

As a side note, there was a lot of speculation and accusations as to what went on in Base Camp between Betsy and Russell earlier this year. There was also speculation as to how much Discovery would show. In tonight’s episode, Betsy was barely to be seen, just appearing at the beginning of the show, and there was no controversial elements shown in the episode. Which leads one to believe that it either didn’t happen or Discovery decided to edit the show in a way that would keep the alleged actions by Brice out of the public eye. I’ll let you decide which might be the case.

4 thoughts on “Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 2 – Episode 4”

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  2. I watched the episode last night as well.

    Personally I feel that this season’s show is much easier to take than last season. There’s less of a focus on trying to make people understand that Everest can kill you…and more of a focus on the simple facts. Obviously, the facts of Everest (altitude, crowds, coldness, etc) are dramatic enough.

    Their focus on the sherpa is admirable, and I’m so very pleased that they have become a main ingredient of the series. These guys are absolutely amazing–it cannot be said enough!

    I also wanted to agree with you about Monica Piris. I find myself nodding “yes” with almost everything she has to say and I’m so pleased at how much she is included in the episodes. She is a “voice of reason” in this series, although I’m sure that the guides are as well, but simply aren’t edited into the show in the same manner. That’s a shame.

    I can appreciate Piris’ take on the mountain where she seems to think that climbing Everest is an insane endevor, yet respects individuals’ right to try…and makes herself (and Brice allows her as well) available to climbers in need. A sort of “I can’t stop them from doing it, but I can help them if they hurt themselves” kind of attitude.

    All in all I’m much happier with Season 2 but I still find myself wanting a simple inclusion of just how long the climbers have truly been at the mountain at each step of the climb. It still seems like they’ve just arrived and are already going for the summit. That’s so very misleading. A simple “Day 49” or something would be a great idea–the first edit of my Everest film didn’t have that and a good friend suggested it out of the blue one day. It made the true duration of an expedition really sink into the audience’s mind.

    Jon
    http://www.therestofeverest.com

  3. Awesome comments Jon, as always. You have a great perspective on the whole thing, having been to the North Side (Twice!) and created not only a documentary of the climb, but also the most extensive look at an Everest climb ever.

    You’re right about them no longer beating us over the head about the dangers of the mountain. Last year they were constantly reminding us of that, and this year they seemed to get it out of the way early and moved on. I appreciate that they did that as well.

    I agree with you about demonstrating the timeline more fully. It really does feel like the team has been there for about a week or two at most. I get that sense this year, more so than last, and your simple suggestion would have a much bigger impact on the audience, who would then have a better grasp of how long these guys have actually been prepping for the actual ascent.

    I’m so glad that they are finally getting to the climb though. The show is much better when it’s focused in that direction. The added emphasis on the Sherpas is great as well. The true unsung heroes of Everest to be sure.

    Thanks for your insights. They are always greatly appreciated. 🙂

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