Ultimate Survival: Everest (2004–…): Season 1, Episode 1 - Arrival at Base Camp - full transcript

Right now,
250 daring men and women

are climbing toward the
summit of Mount Everest,

the highest point on Earth.

Some will succeed.

Most will fail.

Seven will die.

How's the wind?
It still up?

- Yeah, it's still the same.

It throughout
the night and it's still

frozen up here.

But hopefully it'll diminish.

So, just checking in.

I think I'll go over
and talk to the Sherpas

and see if any of them are
willing to accompany me

to the summit tonight
if the winds die down.


- As you can hear, the
winds are just pounding.

They won't stop.

It's actually quite scary in the tents.

I'm always afraid that
maybe the wind'll get

underneath the tent and blow it up.

- Yeah, I think our only
chance will be to maybe leave

at midnight if they die out,

but right now

I don't think there's a chance in hell.


- Problem.

Problem, problem, problem.

- I'm on my own here.

I doubt anyone's leaving.

The wind is pounding.

I don't think anyone'll be
sleeping through the night.


After 45 days
of struggle on Mount Everest,

Shaunna Burke is trapped in a tent

within striking distance of the summit.

Her supplies are running out,

her body is dehydrating,

and the frozen wind is now gusting

at 120 kilometers an hour.

She's got to leave this place,

but the mountain has her petrified.

Down below, in the calm
safety of Base Camp,

Expedition Leader, Ben
Webster, is tormented.

He is supposed to be
up there with Shaunna.

He wants to be up there with her.

Shaunna's not just his climbing partner,

she's his girlfriend.

- South Col to

Discovery, over.

- Base Camp to South Col, over.

at South Col, over.

Shaunna's not doing well.

Her oxygen is dwindling,

her heartbeat is racing,

and hurricane-force winds
are holding her hostage

in a nylon bubble at an altitude

that is literally killing her.

- Here we are, up at the South Col.

I spent the night last
night by myself in the tent.

I did pretty well
throughout the night, but

got quite scared come five
o'clock in the morning

when the winds were still howling.

I thought that maybe my
tent would get blown,

you know, right off the face.

So it got a little bit scary, but

I made it through the night

and hopefully we won't have
to do it again tonight.

Team Leader, Ben Webster

knows the cold reality
of Shaunna's situation.

Four years ago, after
successfully summiting Everest,

Ben almost didn't make it down.

Altitude sickness immobilized
him in the exact same spot

Shaunna's stuck in now.

Ben knows that if the
winds up there don't die,

there's a good chance his girlfriend will.

- You just gotta roll with this and

and believe in your heart of hearts that

you're gonna get your shot.

That the weather'll come good late tonight

and you'll get your shot, over.

- Okay, well keep my fingers crossed.

- In terms of ultimate, ultimate
goal, everybody comes home.

To my mind, an expedition
is not successful

if you were to summit and
lose somebody in the way.

- I don't see it as something natural

that I'm consciously putting
myself into an environment

where I could possibly die.

So I'm aware that it could happen,

but it's still it does sit on me.

And the way I try to cope with it is

try not to think about it very often.

And so it doesn't overwhelm
me and paralyze me.

confidence has come a long way

from Kathmandu, where she
was overwhelmed by the city

and intimidated by the
professional climbers

Ben hired to accompany
them on this voyage.

Andrew Lock, a two-time Everest summiter

and Hector Ponce De Leon,
also a two-time conqueror.

If everything goes exactly as planned,

these four souls will climb to the top

of the highest mountain in the world

and they will document the
journey every step of the way.

But first, they have
to learn to get along.

Climbers as a real, especially elite,

high altitude mountaineers,
I don't know why,

but they tend to be very
socially challenged.

My experience with most of them is that

they're not the kind of people you wanna

hang out with a lot of the time.

They're very self-consumed,
very ego-driven,

in some cases, very socially inept

'cause they spend all their
times in the mountains

not interacting with people.

And that's not the case
in both Hector and Andrew.

Shaunna's climbing partners

should be giving her their grand tour

of Nepal's capital city right now.

But instead of bonding with them,

Shaunna's throwing up in her hotel room.

- I gotta be at my washing.

- Last time I was here
was just six months ago.

Feels like I was here
yesterday for me actually.

- Yeah.

The people
of Kathmandu are used

to seeing mountain climbers.

All the greats have walked these streets.

Sir Edmund Hillary, Tenzing
Norgay, George Mallory.

This section, called Telmont,

is where they came to search out bargains

en route to the summit.

- It's a buzz to be a part
of that same industry,

if you like, that those great names came

and climbed these huge
mountains years before us

and now we're climbing
those same mountains.

We're coming through the
same jumping off point.

I'm actually exciting.

Well, here you go, here's a bit of gear.

On the wall,
Hector is about to see something

he dearly loves, not climbing gear,

his girlfriend, Araceli Segarra.

- The person here in front,
in the yellow down suit,

is Araceli, my girlfriend.

She's always with me.

She's always present, you know.

And I know she's back
home thinking 'bout me too

and supporting this so that's good too.

Hector and Andrew are geared up,

healthy, and ready to climb Mount Everest.

Shaunna is not.

- She's still slowly recovering.

She asked if she could
bail from dinner tonight

and I said absolutely if
she's not feeling right,

she should gain her strength.

- I actually, unfortunately,
I didn't go out to dinner

with the team last night
which I felt really bad about.

I haven't had the chance yet
to get to know everybody,

to talk with them one-on-one

just because I've been
feeling under the weather.

My body has just been
really, really, really tired

and I think it's partially
due to the fact of the stress

and the preparation that we went through

before leaving for Kathmandu and

as well as the flight and
just being in Kathmandu.

The city is very dirty and
chaotic and quite overwhelming.

After three days,

Shaunna feels strong enough to emerge.

- Priority is she now doesn't
wanna be seen as the woman

or the weak link in the chain.

And don't doubt for a
second she's gonna work hard

to prove to us that she
isn't the weak link.

I think, I think she's gonna find it hard

because she hasn't done lots
of other 8,000 meter climbing

and it's, it's just a
different world up there.

So many
people can't understand why

anyone would wanna climb Mount Everest.

But for elite mountaineers,
the most exhilarating way

to embrace life, is by risking death.

- It's very much a reality,

as part of mountaineering.

I don't want it to happen,
but if it does happen,

well, I can except that that risk exists.

I don't think I'd like doing up here

in a funeral pyre, though.

It's pretty much a climbers code

that if you die on the mountain,

your body will be put down a crevasse

and left there on the mountain

and that suits me fine.

I think a lot of effort and

risk has been put into
recovering bodies off mountains

and it's unnecessary.

At the end of the day,
you're going to end up

buried in the ground or
cremated either here or on

at the base of the mountain
or left on the mountain

so you might as well be
left on the mountain.

Bearing in mind that's
what's taken your life,

it seems appropriate to stay there.

After a week in Kathmandu,

Team Discovery heads for the airport.

Here, they hook up with
members of their Sherpa team

and fly to Lukla, a remote village

carved into the side of the Himalaya.

This is where the first steps
to the summit will be taken.

No more vehicles, no more civilization.

Now, it's just you and the mountain.

Everest, to stand on its summit

is to be at the height
commercial airliners fly.

It's the pinnacle of dreams
for elite mountaineers.

Many have perished trying
to reach its summit.

More than 180 people have
died on the mountain.

One for about every 30
attempting to climb it.

Or one for every seven will
have reached the summit.

Everest can be a place where
people can't see or move,

where tents are ripped apart,

where all the high-tech gear
in the world can't save you,

and yet, this season, 250 western climbers

will attempt to summit
and some will die trying.

Not known as the most
technical mountain to climb,

it's still among the most treacherous

with its sheer altitude and
the ever-changing weather.

The Discovery Team flies into
Lukla, altitude 2,800 meters.

From here, they will trek to Base Camp.

It's a rigorous 12 day walk, during which

they will almost double their
altitude to over 5,400 meters.

This 42 kilometer trek
is an important part

of acclimatizing to thin air.

If someone from sea level

was immediately transported to Base Camp,

that person would be
unconscious within a few hours

and they'd die soon afterwards.

You might think that the
team would use this trek

as a last chance to get to know each other

before beginning their climb.

But until now, they
work in splitter groups,

all hiking at their own pace.

Today, the 12th day, the
team finally come together

for the walk into Base Camp,
an inhospitable lunar landscape

that will serve as the
expedition's nerve center.

This is it, Base Camp.

Welcome home.

- You know, this is funny.

It just feels like I was here yesterday.

It's actually,

it just, nothing's changed.

I mean the glacier changes, but

I spent such a big part of my life

in this Base Camp

that it's like coming home again.

The support
staff got here days ago

and have already set
to work clearing ground

for Team Discovery's camp.

- Lhakpa Gelu!

Good to see you, buddy.

- Good, thanks.
How you feeling?

- It's good, yeah.

- Excellent.

Good to see you, good to see you.


How are you?
Come and say hello, Kopah.

Well, without the knife.

Don't kill me.

All in all, about 30 people

will work for this team.

16 sherpa climbers, as well
as an ethnically diverse group

of men who will act as porters,

runners, camp staff, and cooks.

There's also a doctor

and a communications expert.

- Again, you got lots of
humidity the day before.

Right now, Ben is speaking

with his hand climber, the
famous Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa.

Lhakpa Gelu holds the world
speed record on Everest,

from Base Camp to summit
in under 11 hours.

He and his right hand man, Mingma Sherpa,

have an incredible 19
Everest summits between them.

Attempting to summit without Sherpas

is as dangerous as attempting
to summit without oxygen.

- We're trying to create
a big platform here

for our communications tent.

So, it means a lot of BF and
I, brute force and ignorance.

Strong back, weak mind.

All right, ready?

While the men set up camp,

the only female in the crew stands back,

doubts her abilities,
and has second thoughts.

- I would say the last couple of days,

I've been feeling a
little bit intimidated by

the mountain itself
and I began questioning

whether I really belonged here

and whether I really had
what it takes to make it

to the summit of Mount Everest.

I think the reason that
was happening was because

I'm surrounded by such a strong team

both Hector, A.J, as well as Ben

are very, very physically fit.

I'm physically fit as well,

but they're on a different level.

And I think their mental
toughness is also something

that is extremely

that they're extremely, extremely good at.

There are
no permanent fixtures

built at Base Camp.

That's because Base Camp moves.

It's an active glacier
that melts and shifts

and changes shape as each day gets warmer.

To make it more challenging,
there's no electricity,

no plumbing, and the nearest
store is three hours away.

Another problem, real
estate's getting scarce.

- It's pretty crowded, but
that's the nature of the game.

It's restricted space
to find at Base Camp.

But yeah, we've got some
great equipment here

and the boys are right into setting it up.

- Even though I've been here twice before

and I breached the
summit on both occasions,

it's always exciting to climb Everest.

Offers so many different challenges

and dangers and difficulties.

Every time I come back
it's different, you know.

The ice always, always gonna be there

and it's always gonna be dangerous

and exposed every time you go through.

It's exciting as well as fearful.

- Hector, do you need

some help organizing?

- Yeah, of course.

- Tell Bavaram we need chocolate powder.

- Yeah.
- Kay.

- Milk.
- Yeah.

- Powder milk and sugar.
- 'Kay.

You don't just pack your bag

and head off for the
summit of Mount Everest,

there's still a month's worth
of work and acclimatization

that has to happen.

The team's plan is to
fully stock four camps

with food and oxygen.

Oxygen is what makes this climb deadly.

There just isn't enough of
it high up on the mountain.

So climbers go up and down in stages,

forcing their bodies to
create extra red blood cells.

This allows them to absorb
more oxygen with each breath.

- It's a complimentary process really.

We need to establish our
camps and establish the route

and we need to acclimatize.

So by carrying loads up to a high camp

and then coming back down to sleep,

we're forcing our body to
acclimatize to a higher altitude.

On the climb,
the team has two opponents.

Most obvious is the mountain,
less apparent is time.

The south side of Mount Everest
is a Nepalese National Park

and the infrastructure
set up to help climbers

will all be shut down on June 1st.

That's in eight weeks.

When acclimatization,
climbing, and weather

are all factored in, it usually comes down

to just a seven day window
when summiting is possible.

Maybe it will be impossible.

Mount Everest is blanketed

in religion, superstition, and myth.

Many Sherpas and westerners believe

you can't climb the mountain at will,

she must let you climb her.

The Sherpa people call
the mountain Sagarmatha

or Chomolungma and they
revere her as sacred.

Before every expedition,

the Sherpas hold a religious ceremony.

A high-ranking Buddhist Lama is summoned,

offerings created, and
climbing gear gathered

for a service known as the Puja.

- I definitely wanna take
my harness and my jumar

up there.

That definitely gotta be blessed.

I'm taking the gear that
we're taking to the Puja

and this is pretty much the
gear that we wanna get blessed

in this ceremony, that we wanna be,

have the Lama blessed in
the ceremony, you know,

for good luck, for good
karma up in the mountain.

So am I picking like the most
important pieces of my gear

which are the harness, jumar,
ice ax, boots, and crampons.

A stone
altar, called a lapso

was built in the middle
of Team Discovery's camp.

Whenever any climber is on the mountain,

aromatic sprigs of juniper must

smolder constantly on the lapso.

It's a complex ritual.

And at it's heart, the Lama is asking

the goddess of Mount Everest
for permission to climb.

He blesses the climbers
and prays for safe passage.

- I respect tremendously
and have a sensitivity

to their own connection to
the mountain and what it means

and certainly for them, it's important.

At the end of the day,
these men that I climb with,

speaking of the Sherpas, will
have my life in their hands

and I will at some point,

probably have their life in my hands.

And so that trust has to be there.

And one of the things you
want to do is build that trust

by respecting each other's
culture and belief system.

These are
not decorative flags.

They are prayer flags,
always hung in odd numbers.

They must never come down
while the climb is underway.

The climbers receive their
sunjis, deeply symbolic

and worn by everyone on the mountain.

Sunjis are a necklace made of red string.

In the middle, they have what
is called a protection knot.

These knots must never be
undone and during the climb,

the sunjis must never come off.

Something spiritual happens
to people who come here.

It can be life changing.

Mount Everest is a higher power.

With the Puja ceremony over,

the Sherpas head off to set up Camp One.

To reach the summit, Everest climbers use

boots with crampons attached,

an ice ax, an ascender,
also called a jumar,

to help pull themselves
up the fixed ropes,

and a harness with carabiners
for locking into safety lines.

Andrew and Hector prep their gear

and double check their backup supplies.

You never know what might
save your life on Everest.

- Extra wide bolts.

- These are my old good
heavy duty steel ones,

which I'll use between Base and Camp Two.

But the other thing about these is that

if my lot-like ones should break,

these also fit my high altitude boots.

- Harness and jumar and ice screw, okay.

Pulley-proof shirts,


- I just cut off a bit
of sleeping pad foam

and taped it over the head of the ax

because the reality is on this climb,

it's not very steep.

I'll be using my ax
more as a walking stick

than as a climbing tool.

So if my hand over the top
of the ax all the time,

the cold of the metal would
suck the heat straight through

my very heavy-duty mittens and
probably lead to frost-bite.

- There's probably at

While Ben deals
with more logistical details,

Shaunna packs her bag, then his.

More than five kilometers above sea level

is a rough place to live.

But compared to where
the climbers are headed,

Base Camp is like a health spa.

Climbing officially kicks off tomorrow

with a trek over the Icefall,
a spectacular death trap

that's infamous for having
air pockets, crevasses,

and an appetite for climbers.

Climbing Mount Everest
officially starts today.

Team Discovery still hasn't
formed a strong social bond.

For professionals, that's no problem.

In fact, it's normal.

- Until now, no complaints.

I am for, as far the core climbing team

of Ben, Shaunna, Hector, and myself goes,

I'm having, I have a very good feeling.

I very much enjoy Hector's
company and trekking with Hector.

I'm sure he's gonna be very
strong on the mountain.

Ben, obviously, is very
tied up with the management

and logistical side of this expedition.

And that should ease off for
him in the next few days.

So haven't had much interaction with him.

- I feel very good about how things

are coming together right now.

Both Andrew and Hector are
pretty much as advertised,

real hard men.

- I'm feeling very good
about the whole team

about everyone that's
gonna be on the climb,

especially I've,

I really like Ben's way of

leading this team, you know.

- Shaunna is very quiet, but

she's very nice and I'm sure she's

keen to get on with the climb as well.

- Every day that I wake up, I, you know,

sort of have to pinch myself and say,

"Here you are, you know.

You're at Everest, you're doing this.

You're one of the climbers.

You're not just one of the
trekkers coming up here."

- So all in all, pretty happy.

Everest could be considered

the world's ultimate obstacle course

where a mistake could end your life.

Today, the team turns their
back on the safety of Base Camp,

destination Camp One,

which has already been
set up by the Sherpas.

Getting there is no cakewalk.

For starters, they must
negotiate the Khumbu Icefall,

a deadly mess of slow-moving ice

riddled with crevasses, drop-offs,

and the ghosts of 20 fallen climbers.

- Easiest way to describe the
Khumbu Icefall for laymen is

think of it as a moving river of ice.

- You have to make your peace
before you even go into it.

anyone from the core team

sets foot onto the Icefall,
lead Sherpa climber,

Lhakpa Gelu, gets the
juniper fire going strong.

Prayers are said,

thoughts are gathered,

and the climb is on.

The Icefall is one of the
most dangerous sections

on the entire mountain.

10% of Everest deaths happen here.

Unfortunately, climbers
must travel back and forth

over this minefield repeatedly
if they're going to summit.

And they never get used to the Icefall

because it's a flowing, freezing,

thawing, cracking, shifting glacier

that is different every day.

Even the marked trail moves and warps.

Sometimes it breaks away to nothing,

vanishing right out from
under the feet of a climber.

When this happens, the Sherpas call it

the one-way ticket to America.

- You know, in all the
seasons that I've been here,

this Icefall has never been
the same two times running.

It's just so broken up,

just so chopped up every single time.

You can just, you feel
those little rumbles,

those little thumps underneath your feet.

It's just never know if it's
the little one or the big one.

I'm always glad to get out of here.

Getting through
the Icefall is scheduled

to take four hours.

If they do it and reach Camp One,

the team will have gained
600 meters in altitude.

That's like climbing to the top

of Toronto's CN Tower, twice.

- Heeyah!

Some crevasses
are small enough to leap.

Bigger ones are bridged
with aluminum ladders.

Meet the Icefall doctor,

perhaps the most famous
man on Mount Everest.

For 28 years, this Sherpa
has made it his business

to bridge any gap in the Icefall.

This particular crevasse has been spanned

by four household ladders lashed together

with half inch polypropylene rope.

Head Sherpa, Lhakpa Gelu, is very familiar

with the skywalks
constructed by his friend.

Still, he clips his harness
into the safety line

before setting across.

Structural engineering has
turned into a family business

for the Icefall doctor.

This year, his son is working with him.

After five hours of climbing,

the team stands in a dreamland
5,900 meters above sea level,

a full kilometer higher
than any peak in Europe.

The Icefall is behind them,
but that's little comfort.

This beautiful weather is creating

perfect avalanche conditions.

Team Discovery has made it
to the first of four camps

they plan to establish on
the face of Mount Everest.

This is an exciting day.

Being here means the
dream has really begun.

- And I'm happy to be up here.

Before you like spend
your first night up here,

you really don't feel like

you're actually climbing the mountain.

So tonight's gonna be
our first night up here

for four of us, at least.

And that's always good, the first,

as I say, the first night.

See what tomorrow brings.

Tomorrow brings snow.

It snows deep into the night.

The following morning, snow falls again.

This time, from a clear blue sky.

As down breaks on the mountain,
an avalanche breaks off it.

- This morning, we had two big releases.

Doesn't surprise me 'cause
it snowed quite a bit.

And you can see, if you,
looking at these mountains,

or at these faces, yesterday
there was quite some ice there.

So all the snow that fell last night

wouldn't like stick to that ice.

So the moment the temperature
changed a little bit,

boom, and that's when the release occurs.

I'm sure we're gonna be seeing more today.

It's a clear day, no clouds.

So the sun is gonna hit
hard on those slopes

and I'm pretty sure we're gonna be seeing

a few more big ones too.

On Everest, avalanches

are simply a way of life.

They're also a way of death.

When you dive deep underwater,

pressure can force your
eardrum to flex inward,

causing intense pain.

At altitude, the phenomenon is reversed

and it can feel like
your head will explode.

- It's like somebody's
taking a couple of needles

and just driving into
the ears at the moment.

- Want me to radio down to and ask if you.

- Well, I just took some sinus medicine.

I'm hoping that'll help
clear the passages,

but this is not a lot
of fun at the moment.

And every time I try to blow my nose,

all I hear is crackling
and popping in my ears

and intense, just intensifies the pain.

So these things are gonna
have to open up and drain.

This is the small little things like this

that are really common here.

You just, you have periods
that just uncomfortableness

and you just sort of deal with it

and hopefully it clears up.

without a sinus condition,

Everest can be a high pressure head game.

You want your thoughts to remain positive.

However, there are variables
beyond your control,

like who sets up camp beside you.

In Camp One, Team Discovery has a neighbor

whose presence is messing
with Hector's head.

Meet Andreas, leader of a climbing team

that has the same summit
plan as Team Discovery.

Andreas and Hector have a long
and shocking personal history

that is so full of life and death,

it's almost impossible for
non-climbers to believe.

- I know some of the guys in this team,

well, specifically this guy named Andreas.

I climbed a lot with him in the past.

We haven't climbed though in many years.

Why haven't
they climbed in many years?

In 1996, Hector saved Andreas's
life on this very mountain.

Then, a few years later,
Andreas left Hector for dead

in a deep crevasse of ice.

Hector survived and vowed never
to climb with Andreas again.

At today's frigid reunion,
their history goes unmentioned.

Climbing Mount Everest allows no room

for personal politics, just work.

The next goal is to fix safety
ropes on the Lhotse Face.

Once in place, every climbing
team will be able to climb

into these communal ropes

and use them for going up and down.

The exhausting work of fixing the lines

is usually done by Sherpas,
but Hector wants to be involved

and challenges Andreas to join him.

- I would proposition would be
you guys go down now, right.

- Yeah, yeah.
- If you can

wait down there for four, five days,

then we come down rest two or three days.

Then I come up with you and
I'll bring two of my Sherpas.

As far as rope goes, we have enough.

- Un-

- And we'll start fixing the Lhotse face

and we can make it in
one day up to Camp Three.

Sounds good?

- I'm sure in a long day we can make it

- Yeah.
- two and three.

We need to, we were thinking
of resting three days.

But we can take four,
five, whatever's needed

so you can catch up with your itinerary.

With you we can put up two or
three Sherpas and some rope.

- If the Lhotse Face
doesn't get fixed early,

then everything is pushed
back two, three weeks

and we don't want that.

We want to, to be ready by the
beginning of May, you know,

and if the weather allows,
have an early summit.

- Getting better, not as painful.

The team spends

two light-headed days at Camp One.

Oxygen levels here are half
what they are at sea level.

Lack of oxygen can confuse climbers.

It's time to go back to Base Camp.

For Shaunna, it'll be a paralyzing trip

through the Icefalls.

Team Discovery's camp has 25 tents.

It's basically a neighborhood
in a small village.

Overall, Base Camp is
home to 19 climbing teams.

This Chilean Team is one of them.

British socialite Annabelle Bond

is climbing with the Chilean Team.

Annabelle doesn't fit
the stereotypical image

of a grizzly Mount Everest assaulter,

but she is ready to take on this challenge

with that same flare
that women in her family

have shown for generations.

- My grandmother was one of
the first western women in

at altitude in the pool.

So I've got pictures
of her in 1929 in the,

you know, the cool goggles
and kind of blazers

and the plus fours.

And, you know, set against
backgrounds like right behind me

and she's looking down in her crampons.

And that's always been
an inspiration to me.

And she's still alive now.

She's 96 and she's following this climb.

father owns the Hong Kong Bank.

50 year old Chilean Team
Leader, Andronico Luksic,

also owns a bank.

It costs a mountain of
money to climb Everest

and two very different kinds
of people manage to get here:

dedicated, first-class mountaineers

and globe-trotting
adventurers who can afford it.

- On the last climb we did in Chile,

I got frost-bite on the end of my fingers

because we had to keep taking off

and putting on our crampons

and I had like completely
inappropriate gloves.

So I still have really
bad ends of my fingers,

which I can't worry about.


Mom was the one that got me into it

and she met Andronico at a party

and she was bragging about my climbing,

which I'm gonna tell her
to stop doing from now on.

And, you know, she was saying,

"You know, my daughter's a climber."

And he said, "Would she
like to come to Everest?"

And without even consulting
me, she said, "Yeah."

So the next thing is, she wakes me up.

I'm like late night in London.

And she's like, "Darling,
you're climbing Everest."

That's kind of how it came about.

Are these
Mount Everest rookies

ready for the brutal punishment
that's in store for them

more than 8,000 meters above sea level?

- Being a long distance
runner, I keep myself fairly,

kind of, I mean I'm not tuned,
but my body's fairly tuned.

Ever since I was invited
to join the group,

since August, I've been down,
I've done I think six peaks

above nine, between 19
and 22 and a half thousand

down in Chile.

And then I've been hiking
the ski mountain in Aspen.

So, I mean, pretty intensely since August.

It's now
the second week of April.

As Annabelle and the Chilean
Team set off for Camp One,

Team Discovery leaves there,
headed back down to Base Camp.

This season, only 12 women
are climbing Mount Everest.

They follow each other's
progress through word of mouth

and by listening on the radio.

They may never meet face-to-face,

but there was a sisterhood amongst them,

complete with sibling rivalry.

They wanna know how strong is she?

How fast is she?

Will she get there before me?

Odds are strongly against
rookies making it to the summit.

It will be especially
difficult for Annabelle

because no one on her core team
has ever been there before.

All of Shaunna's core team has stood

on the top of the world,
including her boyfriend, Ben.

Some people wouldn't
wanna be with their lover

on an adventure like this.

It could get too icy and tense

for the relationship to survive.

Climbing Mount Everest is not a date.

It's a brush with death.

Early in the Icefall,
Annabelle is stopped cold

by a single ladder.

To get to the top of Mount Everest,

you need determination and creativity.

Annabelle sees an obstacle
and gets down to it.

- Do it, but I just feel
more comfortable like this.

Stylish, I know it, but...

Sorry, just need to stand.

My god, and I have really sore knees.

The higher you go, the more realize is

what a huge mountain this is.

And there's so much
that can go on up there.

I think the whole climb is one tough climb

and anyone who says it's
fix nines the whole way,

I don't care.

It is tough.

So far, Team Discovery

has had good luck on their side.

The weather has cooperated,
everyone feels strong,

and there have been no
real mishaps to speak of.

Even crossing these breathtaking ladders

has gone without a hitch.

- Always in the back of my mind,

there is that sort of
fear that one misstep

could lead to my death.

- Slow and easy now.

Be sure.

Good girl.

- My crampon got stuck.

I actually told myself don't look down

because that's when you're
gonna lose it and you'll panic.

So I just focused on trying
to little strategies to

sort of wiggle my foot
to try to get it loose,

but nothing was working.

- Take a step backward, Shaunna.

- One step back.

- On the, yeah.

- That good there.

Team Leader Ben
Webster steadies the lines.

His girlfriend is frozen midair,
just a meter from safety.

The crevasse she hovers over

is the depth of a 10 story building.

Mingma Sherpa has seen enough.

It's time to fix this
problem and get out of here.

- He came right over to me

and he tried to loosen my
crampon from the ladder.

He wasn't able to.

So he came up with plan B,

which was to actually
take my crampon right off.

Part of
the reason Shaunna came

to Mount Everest is to do research

for her PhD in Sports Psychology.

Her thesis paper is called

Motivation in High Altitude Climbing.

As a psychologist, Shaunna
knows the danger of panic.

- I think it's very important not to panic

because if you do panic when
you're on a ladder like that

the possibility of losing
your balance and falling over

is extremely high, so I
think it's very important

to try to stay focused.

He took the crampon right off my foot

and I was able to walk off the ladder.

- Da-da-da-da!
- Thank you!

In normal
life, an incident like that

would take weeks to become a funny story.

Here, it's laughed about immediately.

Climbers on Mount
Everest live every second

like it might be their last.

It's the highest feeling in the world.

On the next episode of
Ultimate Survival: Everest,

a sick doctor brings
his virus to Base Camp.

- Usually these things
last three to five days,

but who knows.

Ben descends
to the edge of oblivion.

- We're gonna go real, real slow

and real, real careful on the way down.

And Annebelle
stares death in the face.

- I just seen my first dead body.

And I'm not really
enjoying that experience.