Immediately following this week’s episode of Everest: Beyond The Limit a new episode of After The Climb was aired with host Phil Keoghan being joined by Russell Brice, climbers Tim Medvetz and Mogens Jensen, as well as team doctor Monic Piris to discuss the climb we’ve been watching on Beyond The Limit. They each talk about facing your mortality on Everest and what it’s liking seeing dead bodies on the mountain. They’re later joined by Pete Athans, who shares some of his experiences with dead bodies on the mountain, and how people will step over and around them to continue to the summit.
Next, the discussion turns to frostbite and the effects of cold on the human body and exactly how devastating the cold can be. They talk about Beck Weathers, who was caught out in the storm of 1996, and ended up losing his fingers, toes and his nose. The conversation also went into detail on whether or not the climbers used “pee bottles” to urinate in over night. There was a brief, and amusing, discussion the bottles, but also some good comments on how the urine bottle can be used to monitor your water intake to be sure you’re not drinking too much or too little.
One of the more interesting aspects of the show was listening to Brice talk about the logistics of managing the climb. He talks about the weather reports that he pays a lot of money to receive, as well as how he plans for when to go up. He talked about keeping an eye on his teams through the telescope at ABC and all the things that he has to consider and take into account before his teams are allowed to make their summit bids.
Next, the group is joined by Mark Ingles the first double ambutee to summit Everest. He talks about how he lost his legs in a climbing accident 25 years ago, but hasn’t stopped climbing. In fact, if you watched Beyond The Limit last year, you saw him as part of the team and you saw him top out on Everest as well. He made some good comments on the weather and how it can make or break your climb.
Next the gang is re-joined by Pete Athans, and the discussion turns towards communication on the mountain. Russell requires all of his team members to carry a radio, but not every team does, which can lead to problems and accidents on Everest. Russell and Pete talk about how radio communication has improved over the years, and they talk about the famous call from Rob Hall back in 1996, when he called home via sat phone to talk to his wife before he died. He could call home but not reach the nearest guide to help him out. Now, communication has improved to the point where broadband internet is fairly common, and radios are able to keep everyone in constant contact.
Dr. Luanne Freer makes another appearance on this week’s episode as well to talk about the lack of oxygen as you head up to higher altitudes. Russell points out that there is actually the same amount of oxygen in the air at the summit as there is at sea level, but the air pressure is so low that you can’t get as much in a single breath. Tim commented that sleeping with the O2 at Camp 3 allowed him to get a better nights sleep, and kept him warm, helping to stave off frostbite.
Finally, Veikka Gustafsson joins the discussion to talk about why he climbs without the use of supplemental oxygen. He believes that if he can’t get up without the use of O2, then he shouldn’t go up at all. He does admit that it’s not the way that everyone should climb. He isn’t a purist. But he is looking for the challenge for himself. The last portions of the discussion centered around the differences for a climbers body when using oxygen as opposed to not.
This week I enjoyed the discussion much more than last week. There was a lot of great information shared. However, I do think that the show is a bit too ambitious for it’s own good. They are constantly bringing people in and out of the discussion, and often times not everyone gets to weigh in with their thoughts. They also moved through a lot of different topics, and there were moments when I wanted them to stay focused on something, when instead they moved on to another element of the climb, without really fully exploring the one they were just discussing. I wanted to yell at the TV to make them stop and go back a bit, because clearly I was missing some key thoughts and I didn’t think everything was explored to it’s fullest.
When I finished last week’s episode, which was the first of the series, I didn’t really know what to think of the show. But this week I felt that the discussion was a bit more intelligent and thoughtful, while still teaching a lot about the experience of climbing the highest mountain on Earth. I’m now looking forward to the future episodes, and hopefully more insightful discussion.
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