Everest: Beyond the Limit (2006–…): Season 3, Episode 3 - Deadly Countdown - full transcript

Astronaut Scott Parazynski first saw Everest from 300 miles up in space, but he's been dreaming about it since he was a little kid. His first attempt to climb the mountain failed and he's determined that won't happen again as he heads for the summit with a team that includes the oldest American to attempt Everest. The higher they climb, the more of his team mates turn back with exhaustion and life threatening symptoms. Will Scott be the last man standing?

Everest is a cold-blooded killer.
More that two hundred frozen bodies litter these slopes.

Doesn't matter who you are.
It will chew you up and spit you out.

This time two Americans - an astronaut...
- I wanna climb Everest bad

...and a senior citizen - are risking their lives
for the few minutes on top of the world.

The ?? in something like this may result in death.

It is the ultimate mountaineering prize.

If they can survive the most grueling 5 days of their lives.

You got to be strong. You got to really want it.
You either get it or you don't.

Season 3. Deadly Countdown

Everest base camp. At 17 500 feet...

...it's higher that any peak in the continental US.

But base camp is only a staging ground for hundreds of climbers...

...to push 11 500 feet higher to the top of the world.

For every twelve, who achieve the ultimate prize,
one pays the ultimate price.

At this stage of the expedition people understand how serious it is.

They understand that they make a mistake,
they slip and they are dead. Simple as that.

It takes weeks for the human body to adapt to extreme altitude.

Climbers make multiple round-trips as high as Camp 3 at 23 500 feet.

Battling altitude sickness, arctic temperatures and hurricane-force winds.

Once the weather opens a narrow window to Camp 4...

and the summit at 29 035 feet, a new team of climbers is ready to go.

- We are going. We are pulling the trigger.
- It's happening.

Scott Parazynski has unfinished business on the mountain.

To be the first astronaut on the summit of Everest.

First time I saw Everest was from the space shuttle "Atlantis"
about 300 miles straight up.

It was such exhilaration.
This major landmark is something that...

...had great significance in my... my life, you know. There it was.

He is back for the second try after an injury last year
forced him to turn around.

This is something I've aspired to since I was a little kid.

I think Scott has a great chance.
He is really strong. He is very determined.

Climbing with Scott are two old friends
on theirs sixth mountaineering expedition together.

Englishman Paul Samuel is an old-school adventurer...

...including singling around the world
and dog-sledding to the South Pole.

For get the summit. Just be...
an unbelievable feeling and unbelievable achievement.

His longtime climbing partner is Louis Carstens, a South-African banker.

I like setting big goals. Big challenges.
Getting out the comfort zone.

For 5 years they were climbing all over the world
from Antarctica to Alaska...

...building up to this year's Everest expedition.

Rounding up the team is a 66-year old construction worker
from Spokane, Washington. Dawes Eddy.

I am 5'6" and weigh when walking 130 pounds.
Not a very big guy.

If Dawes summits, he'll go into the records books
as the oldest American ever to climb Everest.

This guy's like Energizer Bunny. He just keeps ticking away.

Guess, a kind of fulfilling a dream seeing how high I can climb.

But the odds are against him.

Statistically, climbers over 60
are 3 times more likely to die on Everest.

Every climber has a weakness. And this mountain will expose it.

Scott, Dawes and Paul are climbing with IMG team,
run by Eric Simonson.

They paid 40 000 $ each for a reason.

Over 19 years on Everest Simonson has led nearly
200 climbers to the summit. And never lost one.

I have tremendous respect for the climbers
that come and climb with us.

It's easy to sit at home and talk about climbing mount Everest.

It's a wholly other thing to put down the dough
and travel halfway around the world and actually do it.

Simonson commands the operation from base camp
while guide Mike Hamel leads the way up the mountain.

We are there. We are ready to go.

His helmet cam captures every movement on the mountain in close-up.

Stay focused here, keep climbing.

Those that know me know that this is the environment I like to be in.

It's an awesome thing and I...
I have been addicted to it, I have to say.

For 5 days the IMG team will tackle
some of the most treacherous mountain geography on the planet.

Just above base camp the route to Camp 1
starts in the Khumbu Ice Falls.

2000 vertical feet of avalanches, ice folders and sheer cliffs.

The big hazards in the ice-fall
are the avalanches from the west shoulder...

...and then the collapses of the ice-fall itself
when the ice chooses to move.

The ice-fall has already claimed one life this season:
a Sherpa killed in an avalanche.

It's killer crushing your legs.

It really does make my... my heart skip a beat.

Pretty scary.

To maximize their odds the team leaves at the coldest
time of night when the ice is frozen solid.

They are nervous about the fall obviously.

Well, we are hoping everything that can collapse
has already collapsed. That's what folk think to take it easy.

Let's see.

- Lets do this.
- Alright

- IMG, base. IMG, base. Scott, Denure push ladder. Over.
- Copy that, Scott.

At dawn IMG team is halfway through the ice-fall.

As the sun rises the heat begins to weaken the massive towers if ice all around them.

Just gotta...
Gotta work through it as quickly as we can.

Back at base camp Eric Simonson can only watch and wait.

The single most important thing you can do to minimize
your risk in ice-falls is move fast through them.

This is spooky here.

Although he failed the summit last year
Scott is no stranger to high altitude.

Three, two, one...
And let go of Discovery.

A veteran of five space shuttle missions,
Scott is an accomplished space walker.

- It might work.
- Scott, we like what you're doing.
- That's how you do it!

He is also a scientist, medical doctor
and now - mountaineer.

This patch actually means a lot to me.
This is a... an American flag that was on a...

...space suit that I wore to carry
a solar array on my last mission.

Scott's only failure in life was last year on Everest.

He injured his back and had to turn around at Camp 4
just a day's climb from a summit.

Pretty excruciating lower back pain.
I knew that my expedition was over.

Was very difficult.
Like is... I saw it. Right there.

This year Scott's determined to proof
he has the right stuff to climb Everest.

Great job. I could have done it.
Pretty top ice-fall.

The early exit from an ice-fall means
the IMG team can skip Camp 1...

...and head straight for Camp 2 at 21 000 feet,
a 1000 feet closer to the summit.

Denure! Where are we going on the twentieth?

Saw it. Ye-e-es. Yap, all right.

But there is a risk in climbing too fast.

The higher they go, the less oxygen they take in with every breath.

It was a bit harder than I was expecting it. Actually it lost push.

Over time their bodies adapt producing
millions of extra blood cells to carry more oxygen.

But more red blood cells means thicker blood.

And with the extreme physical effort of rapid climbing
they had doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Ben, how is impressive?

- Nice work.
- Thanks.
- Thanks, Joe.

- That first six hours... It is (did) a mess.
- Same.

Day 2. 4:00 AM. -7F

Another predawn start for the punishing
ascent to camp 3 at 23500 feet.

It seems very big, hard day.

It's a raw challenge.

Do your best and... and...
see how you are falling back.

- Get your gear.
- All right.

The next battle is one of the most challenging sections
on Everest - the Lhotze face.

A near-vertical wall of rock-hard glacier ice
that takes them to the brink of the death zone.

Ready to go.

This is it. If anything goes wrong now, it's...
It's tough to battle a clock.

I don't think I need to remind people that it's dangerous.

They make a mistake up there on a Lhotze face and they are dead.

Day 2. The team tackles the Lhotze face
climbing virtually straight up the wall of glacial ice.

Astronaut Scott Parazynski
and 66 years old Dawes Eddy take a lead.

Guide Mike Hamill hangs back with a slower climbers -
Louis Carstens and Paul Samuel.

- How are you doing, Paul?
- Yep, I'm OK, hanging in there.

Every step demands total concentration.

You take a fall in a Lhotze face, you are not gonna stop.

You are to go to the bottom.
And it's happened plenty times. People are getting sloppy.

They slip, they fall and they just don't stop.
And that's it.

50 miles an hour gusts drop the windchill to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tough to keep your hands warm in this wind today.

The wind makes everything harder.
It makes it more likely that you are gonna make a mistake.

It just complicates everything. Plus, you are fighting
against the wind when you climb. You are working harder.

There is just nothing good about a windy day up high.

Scott continues to set a strong pace.

We're seeing some pretty heavy duty gusts.

Enough to almost blow you off your feet at time so...

At 130 pounds Dawes Eddy is the most vulnerable to the wind.

But at this altitude the simple act of breathing is his greatest hardship.

Our lungs are, I guess, not getting enough oxygen.

So you are... You are kinda gasping for breath.

I don't remember ever breathing this hard.

Oxygen deprivation puts further stress on climbers' hearts.

Their heart rates race as high as 200 beats per minute
pumping blood that's twice as thick.

Got Dawes. Just ahead of us.

Dawes just went on flying by us this morning.
Guy is incredible.

Scott and Dawes are the first to make it to Camp 3...

We are fine.

...carved into the ice at 23500 feet
halfway up the Lhotze face.

- How are you?
- Good job. Well pass.

- Good job.
- We are ready for a little rest right now.

- Camp 3 summit.
- Oh yeah.
- Oh yeah.

It's looking up at you. String of climbers
heading up towards the Yellow band.

I like to explore and really anxious to get over there
to see what it looks like to the summit.

Yes. Sitting here and drinking beauty.

Still below Camp 3, English businessman and explorer
Paul Samuel has fallen behind the rest of the team.

Paul is not this... usual softie.

Yea, my chest is lousy.
Hard stuff.

- Tight chest with breathing, mate.
- Yes
- Don't know what the hell is this.

Makes me a little nervous. Tightness in
the chest is never a good thing. But a...

Well you're not the only one that's nervous, mate.

As a medical doctor, Scott Parazynski doubles as the team medic.

- My chest is tight. I was a bloody worried.
- Sharp or dull pain?

- I had a shallow.
- Dull. I got it.

And it's really restricting my breathing.

So what's... What is that leading us towards?

Well, it's concerning for a... cardiac source.

But... we can't rule out other...

I think that's most serious that could be. We need to treat it.

With his heart pumping thickened blood
it could be a heart attack...

or pulmonary edema -
a high-altitude killer when fluid fills the lungs.

Either way, spending the night at the Camp 3
could mean Paul wouldn’t wake up in the morning.

Just being here at 24 500 is a big stress for the
whole of your body, and on the heart as well, so...

- Not good.
- Yea.

- Thank you.

Paul Samuel is living the Everest nightmare.
Any climbing - up or down - could trigger a heart attack.

- I'm late. What now?
- Very serious.

- My friend.
- Not right.

- We need some snacks.

I pay you money that it's not a heart problem.

But it did... it did cause me a lot of discomfort today.

No position being taking chances up here.

The final decision lies with expedition leader Eric Simonson at base camp.

- Go ahead.
- Eric, a...

Paul had a... some exertional chest pain.
It's concerning to me whether of cardiac origin.

I think it would be prudent to send him
down at least to Camp 2 this afternoon. Over.

- There's no point to nurse around.
I agree, he should ... He should head down.

- I am sorry. I'm sorry, mate.
- You know, you wanna give your best shot.

This far it's not good enough.
That's fine.

I feel something's bad.

Down the hill.

Descending to Camp 2 should relieve the stress on Paul's heart and lungs.

From there he can descend to base camp.
The Paul's summit bid is over.

Climbing mount Everest is all about enduring the pain.

Sometimes you got to push through a little pain
at some of this things. But we can't take any chances.

I'm just so sad, you know, I am...
I'm just so sad.

Personally, it took me three tries to climb Everest...

...and so I can really empathize a lot with people who try and fail.

I know what it's like.

Day 3. 5:00 AM. -15F

Scott Parazynski tries to replace some of the
15 000 calories he is burning every day.

- Do you need any breakfast?
- Breakfast of champions right here.

- You feel good?
- Yea, feel good.
- Right on.

From here they'll breath bottled oxygen the rest of the way.

Yea, I'm going to turn it on.

IMG, base. IMG, base. This is Scott-Denuru.
We are headed up to the Col.

From Camp 3 they climb to the South Col and Camp 4 -

their last stop for the few hours rest before leaving for the summit.

The supplemental oxygen helps prevent altitude sickness...

...and boost stamina for the toughest part of the climb to Camp 4.

It's called the Yellow Band.

Hard work!

A layer of steep limestone where crampons can't grip.

Nice work, Louis, nice and easy.
Lean back in that harness.

66-year old Dawes Eddy stays ahead of much younger climbers.

It's very, very strenuous.

It's... Working about as hard as I ever have in my life.

It feels good, I just hope that feeling continues.

Nice work, Louis.
We are half-hour from camp.

The final hurtle before reaching Camp 4
is a steep cliff of black rock - the Geneva Spur.

Stay focused here. Keep climbing.

Nice work, Louis.

Nice job.

Scott Parazynski and Dawes Eddy
are the first of the team at the Camp 4.

So we've made it to the Camp 4.
Higher than I've ever been before.

It's just like I envisioned it.
Looks like it's going to be a challenge.

Louis Carstens arrives 90 minutes later

At 26 000 feet Camp 4 is the threshold of the "death zone".

Above this line there is too little oxygen to sustain life.

A fighter pilot flying without oxygen at this altitude
would lose consciousness in six minutes.

Even fully acclimatized climbers like Scott,
Dawes and Louis are starting to die.

There is only time for a few hours rest.
They leave for the summit at 9:00 PM.

The culmination of all their dreams is within their grasp...

...if they can survive some of the toughest climbing on a planet.

Adventure is absolutely.
I've never really saw all this on other mountains.

And I don't let me thinking a lot on death on Everest.
You know, this summit just can't go wrong.

Camp 4. 26 000 feet. -20oF.

Keep eating, keep drinking. Keep dragging. Suck those Os [oxygen].

As many Os [oxygen] as you can get in your system... or get out of here.

Guide Mike Hamill plans the summit assault with military precision.

Timing is critical.
- Team in that area gets earlier and earlier.

Leave too early - and they risk frostbite from the intense cold.

Too late - and they could get stuck in a deadly
traffic jam behind slower climbers.

How goes, get out of here about nine tonight.

We wanna leave ourselves as much time as possible.

But if we could have the last half-hour - hour being in the sunlight.

You know, keep away that frostbite.

Camp 4. 8:00 PM. -30oF

Summit day for Scott, Dawes and Louis.

Some of the most treacherous climbing in the world.

From the South Col to the South Summit at 28 700 feet.

Then the Cornice Traverse - a narrow ledge
with a sheer drop for more than a mile on both sides.

And the final hurdle - the Hillary Step...

...a 40-foot wall of rock and ice a few hundred feet below the summit.

Just waking up here. So we got a little ways to go.
But a simplest task. 26 000 feet.

Without oxygen... Getting ready here...
are monumental achievements.

Sherpa Denuru checks Scott's equipment.

Inside a death zone a loose hose could result in cerebral edema - ...

...a fatal form of brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.

- Better for you.
- Yea. Thanks, Denuru.

That would be OK with me.

Expedition leader Eric Simonson runs the operation
from the base camp where his brain functions clearly.

He tracks his teams with radios,
telescopes and discoveries Sherpa cams.

But the images aren't what he is expecting.

They got it: "Jump on everybody".

Concerned about traffic jams,...

...Scott, Dawes and Sherpas Denuru and Mingma leave an hour before the schedule.

Yea. I still don't quite understand why those are going on and leave quite so early.

Back at Camp 4 Louis and Mike are the
last of the team to launch their summit push.

Louis is fighting a stomach virus.
But oxygen deprivation makes his immune system powerless.

He is dehydrated and exhausted but not giving up.

OK, Louis, you're breathing hard now so start nice and slow.

- Gotta, gotta relax into the breathing.
- OK, I'll be right behind you.

Let's get this done, alright?

Every step takes them higher into the death-zone...

...where even the strongest climbers can survive only a day or two...

...before they have to descend or die.

Even for an experienced guide Mike Hamill...

...the summit route on Everest demands every ounce of courage.

You are walking across this plateau in the dark
and you feel like you're on the moon.

It's a pretty spooky feeling, and...

...you know, you feel like you could just drop off the other side of the world.

Just above Camp 4 the route passes behind the ridge...

...blocking the Sherpa cam signal to Eric Simonson.

When the teams go behind the ridge
they'll be out of touch for several hours.

Until the signal is restored at the South Summit, he'll be blind.

More would become worrisome as if...

...we anticipated them at a certain time to emerge
from the darkness, and then they didn't.

Kinda remains me of a...
the astronauts when they went behind the Moon and...

...they were out of touch completely.

Eric's climbers are out of sight and out of rescue range.

They are on their own in one of the most
remote and most dangerous places on Earth.

Day4. 2:30 AM. -31oF.
Summit day on Everest.

Astronaut Scott Parazynski and 66-years old Dawes Eddy...

...lead way into the death zone above Camp 4.

Back at base camp there is no signal from a summit team for over 4 hours.

If they're OK and on schedule expedition leader
Eric Simonson should receive video soon.

We'd be expecting them on South Summit...
maybe a... two, two-thirty. Something like that.

And a... then we'll be getting the Mike way pictures.
We are hoping from there.

2:35 AM.

Right on schedule the video-link beams down to base camp.

Very good, very good. Now we can see that on your camera.

Now, these claimers were startling.

First astronaut Scott and Sherpa Denuru...

...then Dawes and Mingma right behind them.

From here Eric can follow them the rest of the way to the summit.

- Gosh!

Dawes and Mingma are doing the great work. We're watching them and...

...they are getting up to the South Summit pretty quickly too.

- South Summit!
- Oh, OK.

- You OK? Dawes, you OK?
- Yes.

The team steps onto one of the most dangerous sections of the summit route.

They are on the traverse between the South Summit and the Hillary Step right now.

The Cornice traverse is a narrow ridge with a sheer drop just inches to the left.

It's actually good in start.
They can see that it's thousand feet down.

This is not a forgiving mountain.
This is a place where...

...if you push yourself beyond you just don't come back.

Did we locate Hamill yet, Hamill are you there?

Louis Carstens and guide Mike Hamill are falling behind.

A stomach virus is draining all of Louis's strength.

Eric should have a signal by now.
If nothing's wrong.

Hamill, Mike Hamill, do you copy?

Hamill, Mike Hamill, you copy?

Hamill, Mike Hamill, you copy?

After three hours a Sherpa on a mountain finally reaches Mike.

Yeah, Janbu, er, Louis is not looking good.

Yes, copy, Mike.
Sounds like Louis can turn around with Dasuna...

...and a couple of Sherpas down the South Col.

- Eric, do you copy?
- Got part of that. I understand he's going to turn back?

South African banker Louis Carstens is turning around.

With a lack of oxygen at this altitudes he is lucky
he can still think clearly enough to save his own life.

Sorry to hear Louis can't continue,

better take turn there and...
don't go to wall.

He starts down with a Sherpa, but sends
guide Mike Hamill in the other direction.

Louis is fine with Mike continuing up.

A second summit of Everest would rank Mike Hamill
among the world's top mountaineering guides.

28750 feet up the mountain...

...Scott and Dawes reach the Hillary Step -
a 40-foot wall of rock and ice.

You are looking down 8000 feet and...
You just need a focus.

The secret is: Don't look past your feet.

Seven hours after leaving Camp 4
Scott makes it to the top of Hillary Step.

Now it's just a few hundred feet to the summit.

I really would like to see the top.
I can really taste it.

That is top.

Scott Parazynski takes last few steps to the top of the world...

...and at 4:00 AM finally realizes his life-long dream.


Scott Parazynski is the only person who's flown in space
and stood on the summit of Everest.

Scott on summit, four o'clock.

Scott, do you copy? We are looking on you.

Scott, can you have Denuru look right at you?

Alright. Hey, congratulations! How you feel?

Top of the world!

Alright. Good job.

Oh man, one of the happiest days of my life.
That is the roof of the world, baby...

That was a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.

Two years in the making.
Actually forty seven years in the dreaming.

But it's just so powerful to be here.

His timing is perfect.
Staying ahead of other teams all night...

...and arriving at the summit just before dawn.

That night's pretty.

I guess it just started a dawn. In the east we can just barely see horizon out there.

Day 5. 4:05 AM. 29 035 feet

Five minutes later sixty-six years Dawes
realizes a twenty-years dream...

...and captures his own place it the records books.
The oldest American to summit Everest.

Dawes summit, four o'five.

It's just barely starting to get light out...

...and it's cold and windy.

It's just an amazing place and
I feel extremely fortunate...

...to be able to experience this.

It's a feeling of euphoria and satisfaction mixed with total exhaustion.

It took them years to get here.
But they can only stay a few minutes.

They are risking hypothermia and frostbite.
And the hardest part of the climb lies ahead.

Summit is only halfway.
Still it's not over yet. Still long way's to go today.

The death zone is starting to take its toll.
Battling exhaustion and delirium...

...Everest climbers are four times more likely to die on the way down.

4:30 AM. The summit of mount Everest.

Astronaut Scott Parazynski and 66-years old Dawes Eddy
are standing on top of the world.

But this is no time to let down their guard.

After climbing for more that eight hours already...

...Scott and Dawes still face the hardest part of the day.

Descending in a state of total exhaustion

They haven't accomplished anything until they are safely off the mountain.

You have to climb this mountain on your own.

With your two feet you lunge your heart...

...and yourself to down-climb it on your own.

It's a grueling descent. And...
Sometimes after all the adrenalin wears off...

...you are just left with exhaustion and that's where the problems happen.

At 29 000 feet the extreme altitude of
Everest is taking its toll on Dawes Eddy.

This is not good!

As dawn breaks, guide Mike Hamill picks
up the pace on his own climb to the summit...

...and approaches one of the most dangerous sections on Everest.

The Cornice Traverse.
A foot wide and a mile and half straight down.

As Mike crosses the narrow ledge on his way up the mountain...

...he runs in the Scott, Dawes and their Sherpa Danuru on their way down.

- Nice work, Scott.
- Thank you, that's it!
- Long time coming.

- Tastes better if you've blown it the first time, you know.
- Yeah.

Yeah, nice work!

Danuru. Better safe than sorry.

It's the worst place on Everest to unhook
from the safety ropes to pass another climber.

Thanks, Danuru.


How you're doing, Dawes?

Hell of a day... Nice work, good job.

- Thank you.
- I'll get out of your way.

Scott and Dawes pay attention to every step.

The descent demands total concentration.

Coming back down you realize how difficult the terrain is.

One slip here can turn triumph into disaster.

Guide Mike Hamill has been climbing for nine hours since he left Camp 4.

One final barrier remains before he reaches the summit.

There's the Hillary Step.

It's the most exposure I've ever had on a climb.

About 8 000 feet of nothing but air.
It's pretty amazing.

Oh, so awkward.

At the top of the Hillary Step the ultimate
mountaineering prize is less than three hundred feet above.

The last little bit to the summit.

You're just watching the clock,
and watching your oxygen drain away...

...just hoping that you will make it to the top and then down before anything happens.

Just last your meters, heading up to the summit.

See the ???? flags gone far
flying in the wind and a... It's pretty good.

Top of the world.

For the second time in his life
Mike Hamill stands on the summit of mount Everest.

8 000 feet below Louis Carstens
begins to recover in a dense air at Camp 2.

Bloody hell! Get that backpack off!

I just bombed out, just like no power in my legs whatsoever.

It's hard when you set yourself a big goal like Everest, and you don't make it, so er...

I would like to stand on top of the mountain.

As Mike Hamill begins his descent...

...Scott and Dawes end an epic summit day at Camp 2...

...20 hours after leaving Camp 4.

That's how you do it! That's how you climb on Everest!

Hardest thing I've done in my life.

There were two new entries in the record books.

The first astronaut and the oldest American to summit Everest.

Both climbers paid their respects to the real heroes of every Everest expedition.

To Sherpas.

This guy is the toughest man in the Universe right here.

This is The Man. He is The Man.

I'm just so happy that I came back and finished the job...

...after last season's er... big disappointment.

And... And I'm going home.

To have everything come together and
be able to do it really, you know, means a lot to me.

Four hours later Mike Hamill ends the longest toughest day of his life.

Thanks you, guys.

Summiting Everest is a rite of passage into elite fraternity

That rare group of adventurers
who challenge the mother of all mountains and win.

It's the hell of the thing to hike down the valley...

...having summited and a...
just on top of the world.

It's pretty cool feeling.

Subtitles: alexarjev, alexei_suhov