Experience Everest as it's never been before in this harrowing trek to touch the roof of the world. With unusually severe weather and heartbreaking circumstances, this expedition up the world's tallest peak becomes fraught... more » with unexpected perils, leading to an emotional journey full of fear, hardship, exhaustion, disappointment and unforgettable triumphs. Boasting a crew of climbers each with something to prove, this expedition includes the first-ever double amputee to aim for the summit, an asthmatic climber ascending without bottled oxygen and a motorcyclist embracing life once again after a near-fatal traffic accident. Stunningly captured with high-definition cameras, each episode of this special DVD edition includes additional footage not seen in the original broadcast, plus behind-the-scenes moments you won't want to miss! Featuring: Summit Dreams: At Everest Base Camp, newly arrived climbers struggle to acclimate to the Himalayas' extreme altitude. A cameraman collapses with intense stomach pains and is rushed down the mountain. The Gatekeeper: After they learn of a Sherpa's death from altitude sickness, expedition members struggle to prepare themselves for a climb that will be the ultimate test of their mental and physical capabilities. To the Summit: The expedition is divided into two teams for the five-day summit assault. The expedition leader warns the group that he will withdraw the Sherpas if any of the climbers disobey his rules. Into the Death Zone: The expedition is trapped in a high-altitude camp by unexpectedly high winds and is further delayed by a human traffic jam when slower climbers are encountered. Mutiny on the Mountain: Climbers must deal with one of the coldest days ever remembered on the mountain and get caught in another group's descent lines. The Final Cost: With the summit just 350 feet above them, struggling climbers, dangerously weak from serious frostbite and insufficient oxygen, are fiercely determined to reach Everest's pinnacle.« less
"Please note that this review contains spoilers. Don't read if you don't want to know the ending.
First off, let me say that if you're looking for a series that covers an Everest expedition with careful attention to detail, this is the series for you. Over the course of six episodes, we get to know the individual climbers pretty well. We learn their motivations, their fears, their hopes and the risks they are taking by climbing this mountain. We watch them suffer from exhaustion, oxygen deprivation, frostbite and other serious ailments. By the end of the series, you've come to care about these climbers and you feel you have a vested interest in the success of their summit bids.
What's even more noteworthy is the exceptional job done by the photojournalists who shot the climb -- some of whom were sherpas. Using special cameras attached to their headgear (humorously nicknamed "sherpacams" by the production team), the climbers were able to continuously shoot their dangerous trek from the Death Zone to the summit. As someone who has seen a lot of documentaries of Everest, this is some of the most breathtaking footage ever shot of that mountain.
From the production angle, this documentary gets top marks. Kudos to the Discovery Channel for placing this in our hands.
So why is one star deducted?
It should be noted that this documentary was shot during the 2006 climbing season -- one of the deadliest seasons on record, rivaled only by the 1996 climbing season recounted in John Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air".
If memory serves, 11 people died in 2006. One of them is David Sharp, a solo climber who collapsed in the Death Zone. Members of the Discovery Channel's expedition encountered the dying Sharp while making their way down from their summit attempts (there is actually some dispute as to whether they also encountered him on the way up).
To their credit, some of the climbers (like Lebanese climber Max Chaya) attempted to help Sharp. But ultimately Russell Brice -- the expedition's guide who stayed below at Advanced Base Camp -- ordered them to leave Sharp to his death. All of this is covered in detail in the final episode, as it happens -- even to the extent of including Chaya's weeping transmissions as he has to leave the climber to die.
Brice's logic is simple: he doesn't want to risk the lives of his own clients (who are already frostbitten and on the verge of exhaustion) to save the (at the time) unknown climber.
In retrospect, he was probably right.
All the same, when it's all said and done, I can't decide if I like Brice or not. That incident causes you to see the trek to Everest in much different light. Is it really worth it? It would be one thing if you were climbing for the purposes of exploration and discovery...if the trek had never been done before and you were hoping to learn something new. (Like the first lunar landing or a manned mission to Mars.) But why are these guys going? To fly a flag and get their picture taken? Bravado? Vanity?
Leaving Sharp was a tough moral decision...one that's hard to reconcile. Until I can do that, I'm docking one star.
Oh...and one quick note to the producers: there's no such word as "disorientated". Other than that, it's an excellent documentary. "
Gripping human drama
Candace Scott | Lake Arrowhead, CA, USA | 12/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is by far the most interesting documentary on a climbing expedition attempting Everest. The photography is awesome and the human players seem to have been delivered from central casting. The movie takes the viewer from the initial base camp at 14,000 feet and slowly ascends the mountain as the climbers become acclimated to the elevation change. Some will summit successively, others will not. Therein lies the mystery and excitement for the viewer.
Some reviewers complain that the film spends too much time on the climbers as opposed to the mountain itself. For me, this focus is the best part of the experience. Mogens, the handsome Dane climber, is by far the most interesting participant. He is incredibly fit, a truly elite athlete who has difficulty only because he refuses to use supplemental oxygen while climbing. In direct contrast to likeable Mogens, we have Tim, the slothful American climber who exemplfies much that is negative in the American psyche. I still can't believe the film focused so intensely on this dead weight. It is for this reason I give Everest four stars instead of five.
I also feel the movie is manipulated in that an elite expedition leader like Russell would never be burdened with someone like Tim if he had his druthers. Tim selfishly risks the lives of the Sherpas and other elite climbers because of his own indolence and insensitivity.
Russell, the Kiwi expedition leader, is unintentionally funny. He is so dry and emotionless, except when disgusted by Tim's antics on the mountain. If I were ever lucky enough to attempt Everest, I would want Russell on my side. His knowledge and unique relationship with the Sherpas is fascinating to behold. His deadpan comments enliven the movie even if that was not his intent.
I can't wait for season two to make it to DVD. This is a gripping and fabulous look at the mountain and the remarkable attempts of people to summit. Highly recommended."
Awesome Program-Short Review
Xavier A. Cisneros | Austin, Tx | 10/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can not validate of course the truthfulness of this series, as other people have pointed out. But I don't think thats my job as I'm reviewing it as entertainment and as a series. As far as that goes, it was great, as many other people have pointed out. I feel thats already been covered, so I wanted to point out, this DVD is not enhanced for 16X9. Anamorphic Widescreen is not part of this, so one will have to stretch the image, losing some resolution. On my TV, it looked like poo. This of course is a technical aspect of the dvd, and not the movie, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Therefore, I give it four stars. Just be warned.
iBlick | Planet Earth, Milky Way | 05/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are an Everest fan, have read all the books and seen the Imax movie, you will love adding this to your collection. This is climbing from the North side, where you can follow the climbers from Advanced Base Camp along much of the route. They also have awesome footage from helmet cameras worn by the Sherpas. For the first time, you can see how narrow the climbing ledges are get a sense of what it is really like to make the climb. The radios are wired in for audio. This is terrific production."
Uncle Chino | New Zealand | 12/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this show very much. The DVD is excellent and the suspense of the show is unbelievable mostly because it is REAL. It is very informative and it pulls no punches. You don't have to know anything about mountain climbing (me included) to find this to be an unbelievably interesting, entertaining, thrilling and compelling show."