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Discovery Channel avalanche video

I watched the Discovery Channel's video about the Everest avalanche last night. Actually twoce - they ran it twice that I caught. EXCEPT... the two programs had some significant differences and a lot of overlap.

Originally Discovery was going to do a video of a guy leaping off the summit in a wing suit. That got cancelled when the turmoil caused by the avalanche killing something like 16 Sherpas (3 bodies still under the ice). The word coming back from our team (American Climber Science Program - there to do environmental studies, with a summit of Lhotse, not Everest) is the rabble-rousing and threats (some carried out) by a small group of Maoists. Our team leader, John All, has been quoted in several of the Nepali newspapers.

Discovery announced that, since they could not do the wing suit video, they would do a video on the avalanche and the tragedy. Well, it turns out that the narrator and "star" of the show is none other than Bear Grylls ("The Kid Who Climbed Everest", which is the title of his book). A major fraction of the shows (since there are 2 versions, I will call it "shows" plural.

As typical for Discovery, there is a lot of factual info and review of the history of climbing Everest plus various stunts - previous hang glider and ultralight planes, skiing down Everest, snowboarding down Everest, youngest kid to climb Everest (Grylls held that title for several years, then the 13yo wanted to do it, but got put off by the Nepalese government, so went around to the north side). There was also a fair amount of discussion of the incident when a number of clients and guides got trapped by a storm high up on the mountain. Oh, yeah, and lots of footage of Grylls scrambling up peaks in the Alps, hopping out of a helicopter and skiing in the Alps, video from when he was much younger and doing his climb (3 or 4 in a party just behind his died).

Lest I forget, they show the Brit biplanes that flew over Everest in the 1930s and the helicopter that landed on the summit a couple years ago. Lots of footage of the Sherpa (fairly old guy who had summited a bunch of times) skiing down Everest using a parachute to control his speed - unfortunately a gust of wind knocked him down, causing him to slide a few thousand feet and, luckily end up on a ledge where he could be rescued. And some footage of a snowboarder who made an attempt, then went back to board a different route, but vanished along the way down the Hornbein Couloir (Grylls pronounces Tom's name as "horn-bean", where Tom pronounces it "horn-bye-n". as it should be, since it is German in origin).

Lots of interesting stuff. But lots of dwelling on how dangerous it is and only the brave and skilled (like Grylls) plus a bit of luck can succeed on Everest.

If you get a chance, watch both versions (and ignore most of Grylls' carryings-on) 

I watched it as well.  I thought it was pretty interesting.  It's hard to imagine the overall vastness of the mountain until the one skier they spoke of went from summit to base camp in 5 hours!  I skied in Colorado from 1987 to 2000 and skied plenty of summit to base runs but none took 5 hours that's for sure.  Didn't realize there were so many avalanches during the climbing season.  I think the fact that the stats suggest many climbers make the summit every season with relatively few deaths, masks the true danger of the Everest experience.

It was well done and I liked that it was about the Sherpa with little about the political kerfuffle that actually ended the climbing season.  I was taken back to the trek when the jumper guy was on the trail and it made me want to be there again. I love it there. Rob: when I was standing at the base of the mountain looking up from 18,000 feet and realized there was basically another Mt Rainer above me, I was gobstopped! It is amazing what those mountains look like. I grew up in the cascades and am no stranger to big mountains in my midst......but nothing compares!

January 25, 2021
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