Thoughts on Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 3

climbing mount everest 5
Discovery Channel’s third season of Everest: Beyond The Limit began airing this past Sunday, and subsequently finished up last night. The show did offer some amazing views of the mountain, and showed aspects of high altitude mountaineering, but personally I felt that it was mere shadow of its former self, and mostly ended up being a disappointment for me.

In the previous two seasons of the show, Discovery followed teams that were led by Russell Brice’s Himex guide service on the North Side of the Mountain, located in Tibet. With the third season, the focus shifted to the South Side of Everest, found in Nepal. Brice’s team returned, but the show also added climbers from Eric Simonson’s IMG squad to the mix too.

All of this was well known before the show began airing, and it all seemed rather promising, but that was because I kept thinking of the possibilities in reference to the previous two seasons.

I thought it would be great to see an in depth, multi-episode show centered around the very different approach to the South Side, with two teams giving us plenty to watch. What we got instead was Everest: Beyond The Limit Lite, a show lacking the depth and focus of the previous seasons, and in many ways it seems that Discovery gave up on the program before it ever aired.

I remarked in a previous post on this blog that it was disturbing that Discovery did little in the way of promotion for the show. I could barely find any reference to it on their website, and debuting the show during the week before Christmas and New Year seems like ratings suicide.

Looking at what we ended up getting, I think that was a fairly accurate assessment. I can’t imagine fans of the previous two seasons being satisfied with what we’ve been given this year.

For example, in seasons past, we really got to know the climbers well over a series of episodes that showed them making the entire climb, including acclimatization treks up to each of the established camps on the mountain.

Watching this season it seems that a climb up Everest is merely five days of incredibly challenging climbing, rather than the month plus spent preparing for a summit bid. The producers of the show really glossed over the process, focusing instead on a different climber or two each episode who are making their assault on the summit,

all the while the narrating reminding us that they are moving into the most dangerous part of the mountain. We’re suppose to forget that it is a different “most dangerous part of the mountain” than the last time they mentioned it.

I will commend the show for it’s solid camera work, which seemed to get better as the episodes went along. It also did a decent job of breaking down the climb into easy to understand sections,

accurately indicating when climbers were on the Lhotse Face, the Yellow Band, or the Hillary Step. They also did a fine job of explaining the basics of mountaineering to a mainstream audience, even if they were a bit overly dramatic at times.

Where the show really dropped the ball for me was with building any kind of chemistry with the climbers, which was previously a strength in seasons past. In Seasons 1 and 2, you really got to know, and care about, the climbers,

as you watched them work really hard to go after their goal of the summit. This year, it was a brief introduction of the climbers, and then off they’d go on their climb, with little regard to connecting with the audience.

It’s a shame that the show has fallen to this level. While it is still interesting to watch, it is a far cry of what it once was, and has pretty much left me disappointed in the end product. I very much doubt we’ll see a Season 4.

Kraig Becker

15 thoughts on “Thoughts on Everest: Beyond The Limit Season 3”

  1. I only saw two episodes, but I concur. The third season lacked depth and character.

    I wonder if they started filming, but the people they selected this year just didn't have the same compelling story lines such as the paraplegic climber or the biker, Tim. Once the footage was shot, I wonder if they realized they didn't have the goods to deliver a quality program on par with seasons one and two.

    And, how many times can a mainstream TV audience watch climbers go up the same mountain year after year? Maybe they should consider Annapurna or K2 or another mountain next time.

  2. I'd love to see the show focus on another mountain, like K2 or Annapurna. That's part of the reason I was excited for Season 3, because at least we would be seeing the South Side of the mountain for a change of pace.

    The show definitely wasn't as compelling as in years past. Like I said, I doubt there will be a fourth season, but if there is, I hope it is a return to form.

  3. I can't agree more with this post. I was so disappointed by season 3 and I felt that it was a slap in the face to true fans of the show.

    Maybe it had to do with the fact that there were no interesting personalities on the expedition this year. In other words, maybe the footage came back to the editing room and Discovery threw their hands up saying "we can't make a reality show with this crop".

    Anyways, seeing that huge ant-like line of climbers this year made Everest look lame. I understand that the weather situation forced everyone up on the same days but it kind of ruined the footage in my opinion.

    I think Discovery needs to take a break from Everest and maybe showcase some other climbs. Take viewers to Denali or maybe have a show called '7 Summits' which follows a team as they attempt to accomplish one of climbing's greatest accolades. Or even better, "K2: Even Further Beyond the Limit".

  4. For some reason I've never seen this show until this year. I'm glad the consensus was that it kind of sucked because I wasn't very impressed.

  5. I only watched a few as well, but also because I felt that I did not feel any connection to the characters. I am not sure what changed, but the whole atmosphere of the show is less appealing. Hopefully they will rebound.

  6. I couldn't believe that was all there was to the season! I was looking forward to the South Face expidition but was very disappointed. I agree with all the other critiques and hope they focus on another mountain for another series.

  7. I agree with the this blog. My wife and I were really disappointed with Season 3. We felt a disconnect between us the viewer and the climbers. In Season 1 and 2, we felt this connection, this "relationship" with the climbers like Tim and Mogens. We rooted for them on both seasons. This time around, Discover gave us a mish-mash of "faceless" climbers. Season 1 and 2 had character. Right after the first two episodes, we knew it was going to be …yes "Everest Lite". The only connection we found on Season 3 was Russell, Phurba, David Tate, Monica, and Woody.

  8. K2: Beyond the Limit would be great. It's actually a harder climb, and a bit less of a superhighway to the top (though that is starting to change). If they could get a good group of climbers I think this could actually be better than E:BTL!

  9. Bad Discovery channel management is what killed this show and it's sad.
    There's no reason why a season 4 can't be bigger and better than ever.
    If people are willing to watch 18 seasons of Survivor there are those who would be more than willing to watch something far more intelligent, such as Everest Beyond The Limit.

    Some suggestions for a future series:
    -Show simple things like taking a shhower or going to the bathroom at 25,000 feet or other general things we at sea level take for granted.
    -Have cameos of the dead.
    Tell their stiries. Give them 3 minutes each.
    You could fill a season on this alone.
    -Show the cleanup of Everest;
    litter, bodies, etc.
    -Keep Russel Brice and Purba Tashie and introduce the other Sherpa because without them most of these expeditionaries would never come back alive.
    -Show emergency survuval tactics if someone lost their glove, water, oxygen, boot, etc.
    Really overall focus on the dangers more so the triumph of a sucessful climb is all the more sweet.
    That's my rant.
    We want another season!!!!!

    • Yes! These are great ideas and i really hope someone picks them up. I agree with you completely. I would love to see many more seasons of this extraordinary series continue on. I personally would like to learn more about the personable Doctor Monica. I think she would have some knowledge to share.

  10. K2 or Nanga Parbat would be great but very hard to film. To anonymous, mate u don't have showers on the mountain,lol, you use baby wipes. Having a piss is hard enough at camp 1. On summit day u just have to go while u climb. U can't take ur gloves of and taking the suit if is hard in the tents. The 09 season was disappointing, and climbing mt Everest is getting more costly.

  11. Yes, I concur that season 3 was a big disappointment. Made me think that the budget got halved or even more.

    As was mentioned, there was no connection with the climbers.

    Another reason Season 1 and 2 were great was because of all of the buildup, and the fact that it was not focused on just summitting. Viewers learned a lot about basecamp, and got a good idea of the tedium and time involved in climbing Everest. (I certainly didn't know that "basecamp" was 17,000 feet up, and that it takes about 2 months to acclimatize.)

    They need to go back to the forumula that worked for Seasons 1 and 2.

  12. Definitely Season 1 was the best thus far… Agree with Dave Pidgeon that the characters of paraplegic climber or the biker were the most compelling. However, I could watch Everest climbing over and over, no matter who it is. The story each time is always edge-of-your-seat. There's so much to account for – the changing weather patterns, the different characters and their struggles, and of course Russell Brice, Monica Piris, and the sherpas doing what they know best but having to figure out everything along the way and still make sure everyone is completely safe and alive. I find Russell Brice and his teams a bit more interesting than Eric Simonson's, even though Eric does have a much more complications and difficulty facing the south col. (Except that one time when he had to tell that one guy that he could not go back to try the mountain, but his friend could… I enjoy seeing team leaders really put their foot down with too-eager climbers whose eyes are bigger than their stomach, so to speak.)
    I REALLY hope they do Season 4 and more!!! This has been the best series we have been watching since Breaking Bad.

  13. I would love to see this year after year. I would never get tired of it. This show has made me want to go to stay at Base Camp at least if I can climb myself.

    I was happy to hear we had summits this year, and have been searching the Internet for glimpses of video footage, but there isn't anything like this show provided. I really wish it would continue.
    Thank you for the 3 Seasons, here's to 4…

  14. I just watched all three seasons on demand. I have to say I was on the edge of my seat. Seaon 1 and 2 were amazing and inspiring, I cried as well. I agree season three was lacking but still I enjoyed them all. I wish they could filming Everest.

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