Tonight Discovery Channel broadcast the eighth and final episode of Everest: Beyond The Limit. Last week, we watched Team 1 make their summit bid, putting four out of four climbers, including Tim Medvetz, on top. This week, it’s time for Team 2 to take the spotlight.
Team 2 consists of Mogens Jensen, Japanese climbers Katsusuke Yanagisawa, Kobe, and Take. Early on in the episode the team gets separated from Taki, and there is some panic, but soon they find him again, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. It seems he was just lagging behind in the darkness.
The challenges to communication were evident in this scene however, as you have several different languages being spoken at once, with none of the guides or Sherpas understanding Japanese, it makes for a bit of a chaotic scene. This was a good example of how small issues can get blown up on Everest when climbers of various nationalities and languages climb together.
71 year old Katsusuke Yangisawa is attempting to become the oldest climber to ever summit Everest. While climbing Cho Oyo last year he became inspired to climb Everest as well, despite his family trying to convince him to retire. But the veteran Japanese climber appears in good spirits and is strong on the mountain.
As the team moves up, they soon approach the Second Step, one of the major hurdles toward reaching the summit. Before they go up though, we get a good scene of the team changing out their oxygen bottles. They know they’re going to need maximum oxygen on the ladder of the Second Step, and watching them change out their bottles shows another aspect of the climb that is so important, but most people don’t ever think about.
On his third attempt on the mountain, Mogens Jensen is seen struggling just 500 feet beneath the summit. He gave up on his attempt to climb without supplemental oxygen, but he is still struggling. However, he pushes on with the rest of the team, and at long last he stands on top of the World.
With him are Kobe and Take and so far Brice is 7 for 7 in putting his team on the summit. After a short time at the summit, with some photo shots and some moments admiring the view, the men turn back. But Mogens, who has struggled so much appears to be about to suffer some more. He has fallen behind on his water intake, and is now badly dehydrated and facing a very long, cold descent back to safety.
Meanwhile, we check in with Tim Medvetz at Camp 3, where he has been resting since topping out the day before. He still has a broken hand and hasn’t gotten down to ABC yet to let Doctor Monica take a look at it. Tim seems in good spirits and well rest after his ordeal the day before, but his hand will need attention soon.
Brice tells Hrio, a Japanese guide with Yanagi that they need to get moving, and the climbers heed his call. Before long, history is made as the 71 year old man stands on the summit. The video of Rod Baber, who summitted in last week’s episode says it all. Rod exclaims that Yanagi is “double my age”. The elder climber savors his moment on the summit, but he is late getting there, so must turn back quickly. We’re told that the weather is changing and that the teams need to get down to safey as soon as possible. Brice has put all of the team members on top. An impressive achievement.
The shift in focus turns to the descent with Mogens struggling at the Second Step, while Tim, as usual, is late in leaving Camp 3. Brice is still unaware of his broken hand, and has no idea why Tim is going so slow, but we see that using his broken hand is painful, and grasping the fixed ropes is difficult. Eventually Tim does arrive at Camp 1, where we see a lighter moment between him and Brice, with the team leader giving the California biker a hard time about taking his time getting down. He even quips that at least Tim can’t hit him with a broken hand.
The scene once again shifts back up to Mogens, who is descending quickly and a bit carelessly. One of the Sherpas tries to warn him that he is not securely fixed to the lines properly, but Mogens doesn’t seem to understand what he saying.
A misstep almost send him tumbling down the mountain, but fortunately his connection to the rope holds, and the guide helps him scramble back to his feet before he plummeted down the North Face. One of the pitons popped out of the rock, and Mogens dropped more than 15 feet. Sherpa Dorgi attempts to resecure the rope and get Mogens moving, but the Danish climber is in a bit of a shock after his near death experience and doesn’t seem to be too interested in moving forward again.
Next, we return to the summit where Hiro and Katsusuke Yanagisawa are just beginning their descent. Russell is concerned that the older man may have issues on the descent because of his age. Further down the mountain, Mogens is moving again, and feeling better. Eventually he moves past both Kobe and Take and encourages them to press on, as they aren’t far from Camp 4 and safety. As Yanagi is struggling on the Second Step, the younger, faster members of Team 2 arrive at C4.
Tim finally makes it down to Base Camp where we see Doctor Monica go to work on removing his glove. Not everyone is sure that Tim has broken his hand, but once the glove comes off it’s pretty evident that not only is it broken, it’s a severe break. Mr. Overly Dramatic Narrator informs us that Tim has broken two bones in his hand, and while the doc patches him up, he jokes about how he’s going to use the toilet that night. She doesn’t seem amused.
Meanwhile, Mogens arrives in ABC to cheers and congratulations. It’s been ten hours since his summit, but he is now down, and safe, and looking none the worse for wear. He appears tired, but still strong and happy. Tim greets him happily and congratulates him with a beer.
Yanagi is the last man on the mountain, and is moving slowly. The other Japanese climbers are a bit worried about him, but they are also proud and happy as well. The older climber arrives in Camp 3 where he decides to spend the night and rest. A third night at that high of an altitude can take it’s toll on the body, and at 71 years of age, Yanagi is feeling every moment. The next day, the younger Japanese climbers climb back up to greet their mentor, and help him with the descent, but the old man is reluctant to get moving.
It takes some urging but they finally get him moving with the promise of the Sherpas coming to help and that in less than one hour he could be back at ABC. Tanagi struggles mightly, as he is completely exhausted, and his guide Hiro can only do so much for him. With daylight fading fast though, the Sherpas arrive on the scene, and soon Yanagi is in ABC, where he can receive some attention in the medical tent, and a well deserved rest at lower altitude.
With that, all the team members are down safely, with everyone also reaching the summit. Mogens is understandably excited and relieved to have finally realized his dream after all that work. Tim admits to having tears in his eyes at the summit as he took in his accomplishment, and Rod Baber says that he is never coming back to do it again. Yanagi expresses his gratitude to everyone for helping him, and acknowledges the Sherpas for helping him every step of the way.
As the 2007 climbing season comes to an end, we’re told that there were over 500 summits and 7 deaths. Mogens is returning home to plan his wedding, while Tim says he’s off to Thailand to lay in a hammock for a few months.
The final episode ends on that note. I would have to say that this season wasn’t quite as entertaining for me as last year. It felt too familiar with much of the same things happening this year as last. It seemed like the show centered around Tim too much, with Mogens taking a secondary role, and other team mates getting mostly passed over until it was time for their summit runs. We barely knew that the Japanese climbers were there until this past episode, where as last season I think the show did a better job of introducing all of the climbers and telling their stories so well.
I’m not sure if we’ll see a Season 3 or not. If so, I hope they find some new ways to change things up. Perhaps moving the climb to the South Side for instance, as a change of scenery might do it good. Of course, that means leaving Russell Brice behind, so I’m not sure if that’s an option. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
All in all, it was still an interesting show, but they could have easily cut two episodes off and made things tighter and more concise. Things really didn’t get going until they went for the summit, and then the intensity picked up quite a bit. Compare this to the NBC K2 special that aired last weekend, which only had one total hour to tell it’s story, but did so very nicely, leaving me wanting more, while allowing the mountain to provide the drama, as opposed to the personalities in base camp.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if there is a future for this series. But I’ll tell Discovery Channel the same thing I told NBC over the weekend. There are 12 other 8000m peaks (other than K2 and Everest) that could use some attention as well. Get on it! Make it happen! 🙂