Showing posts with label Rescue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rescue. Show all posts

Video: Skier Falls into a Crevasse, Records it All on GoPro

Ever wonder what its like to fall into a crevasse? If so, this video will help quell that curiosity. It features skier Jamie Mullner, who fell into a big crevasse while skiing this past December. Fortunately for him he had his GoPro recording and everything turned out okay, but it is a bit of a scary situation, especially as his friends work to find him and get him out. Definitely a place that most of us want to avoid. Check it out below.

Argentine Climber Rescued From Mt. Logan in Canada

An Argentine climber by the name of Natalia Martinez got more than she bargained for when she set out on a solo expedition to Canada's highest peak. Martinez began her trek on April 22, but two large earthquakes earlier this week caused avalanches that left her stranded on the mountain.

Martinez was climbing the 5959 meter (19,551 ft) peak on Monday when a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Yukon less than 150 miles away from her campsite. This caused snow, rock, and lots of ice to come crashing down the slopes of Logan, creating an impassable barrier for either going up to the summit, or descending back down to the trail head. Natalia spent fours days trapped there until she was finally rescued yesterday. She has now reportedly been taken to Kluane Lake in southwest Yukon.

While the Argentine adventurer was stranded on the mountain, it is important to point out that she was uninjured and had plenty of food and fuel to stay safe for an extended period of time. Martinez is an experienced climber and was well prepared for her solo climb of the peak, which sees just 25 climbers on average each year.

The remote nature of the mountain, mixed with poor weather conditions, prevented a rescue from happening earlier in the week. Thankfully conditions improved yesterday however, and a SAR team was able to extract Natalia without incident. She's now enjoying some creature comforts in Kluane Lake before deciding her next move.

Martinez's story is a good reminder as to why we should always travel with plenty of gear and supplies when heading into the backcountry. From the sounds of things, she could have stayed safely on the mountain for awhile yet, thanks to the fact that she brought plenty of food and fuel along with her. Fortunately, that didn't have to happen and she's now safely off Mt. Logan.

Everest Air Premieres Tonight and I've Seen the First Episode

The Travel Channel officially debuts its much anticipated new show Everest Air tonight, broadcasting the first episode of the six-part series starting at 10 PM Eastern/9 PM Central time. The show promises to take viewers to Nepal to give them a first-hand look at helicopter medical rescue operations in the Khumbu Valley near Mt. Everest. It was shot on location there this past spring.

Over the past several weeks you've read my post announcing the show as well as my interview with Jeff Evans, one of the key players on the program and an emergency first responder who helps provide medical aid to climbers, Sherpas, and a variety of other people living in the mountains of Nepal. Naturally, after speaking with Jeff and receiving a number of press releases from the Travel Channel regarding Everest Air, I've been anxious to see how the show turned out. Now, after getting the chance to watch the first episode, I can assure you that it lives up to its billing as a realistic depiction of life in the Khumbu, and what it is like to conduct a rescue above 20,000 feet (6096 meters)

One of my biggest concerns when ever there is a reality show based around Everest is that the climbing scene there will be exploited for ratings. We've seen it time and again on various networks, which only seem to focus on the relatively few deaths that occur on the mountain each year, rather than the hundreds of successful summits. There have even been reports of another network filming on the mountain this past spring that was taking a similar approach. I'm happy to say that Everest Air does not fall into this category and while watching the show I didn't feel like it felt exploitative at all. 

The first episode does a good job of introducing the viewer to the primary characters that we'll be following over the next six week, of which Jeff Evans is only one. We also meet other medics, communications coordinators, helicopter pilots, and support crew that all play a vital role in running the air rescue operations and saving lives on Everest and throughout the Khumbu Valley. The team isn't there just to rescue wealthy western climbers, but to lend a hand to the Nepali people too. In fact, some of the more interesting and dramatic medical emergencies revolve around the Sherpas who live and work in the shadow of the tallest mountain on Earth.

Having been to Everest Base Camp it was a lot of fun for me to see some of the more memorable landscapes throughout the region. The crew that filmed the show never appear on camera, but they are some of the unsung heroes of the show for sure. The Himalaya look impressive on screen and while the production team was there to film the med team in action, there is still plenty of eye-candy in the form of jaw-dropping scenery too.  

Everest Air gets off to a fast start, with some daring operations by the helicopter pilots and the rescue squad in the first episode. I don't want to spoil too many of the details, but I can tell you that each of the missions are a good indication of what the remaining episodes will be like. You'll get a first hand look at the effects of altitude sickness, as well as some of the other injuries and afflictions that anyone living in – or visiting – the Khumbu Valley face. Seeing some of the symptoms of pulmonary and cerebral edema manifest in patients is highly sobering, and will help you gain even more respect for the men and women who attempt to climb the big mountains. It'll also provide plenty of respect for Jeff and his team as they deal with the consequences too. 

Whether you're someone who follows the Everest climbing scene closely each year, or just have a passing interest in the Himalaya in general, you're likely to really enjoy Everest Air. But beyond that, if you want to see a real-life drama, played out on a massive and grand stage, this show will keep you riveted as well. This is true reality TV, where the decisions that are made are literally a matter of life and death. It is hard to top true human drama, and this show has that in spades. 

Check out the preview for Everest Air below, and catch the show starting tonight at 10:00 PM Eastern time. 

Adventure Blog Interview: Jeff Evans of Travel Channel's Everest Air

 Jeff Evans inside a rescue helicopter at Everest Base Camp
On Wednesday, October 26, the Travel Channel will debut an all-new show entitled "Everest Air." The six-part series, which was shot in Nepal this past spring, follows a high-altitude rescue team that provided medical assistance, support, and evacuations of climbers on and around the world's highest peak.

For two months during the 2016 climbing season, a dedicated and experienced team of Sherpas and helicopter pilots, led by experienced mountaineer and medic Jeff Evans, went to great lengths to rescue climbers, guides, and local Nepalis living in the Khumbu Valley alike. "Everest Air" will give us a glimpse of what those operations were like, and how Jeff and his squad impacted the lives of those they helped.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Jeff to get his thoughts on the show, the Everest climbing seven, what it was like conducting high altitude medical operations, and a lot more. It was clear from our conversation that this wasn't just a television gig for him, but a chance to give back to both the mountaineering community and the Nepali people.

An adventurer and outdoor athlete, Jeff grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where a love of the outdoors was instilled at a very young age. As he grew older, he immigrated west to Colorado where he attended college at UC Boulder where he studied medicine as he worked towards becoming a physician's assistant. While there he also continued to hone his climbing skills, which would later take him up some of the more famous routes in Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and Joshua Tree National Parks. Later, he would branch into mountaineering as well, and eventually become a guide – and conducted search and rescue operations – on Denali in Alaska. In 2001, he even summited Everest along with blind climber Erik Weihenmayer, a long time friend that he would share many adventures with.

Last year, following the tragic earthquake that hit Nepal, Jeff returned to that country to help lend a hand. His experience as a search and rescue operator, along with his training as a medic, allowed him to play a vital role in the difficult days that came after that natural disaster. His deep love for the Nepali people, and a place that has given him so much throughout his climbing career, spurred him into action then, and was a major reason why he wanted to return once again this year to be a part of "Everest Air."

Working on a patient at EBC
"Initially, I was contacted to be a consultant for the show," he tells me when we spoke over the phone.  But after he inquired as to whether or not the production team had a medic on staff his role as part of the series evolved quickly. "They called me back the next day and asked if I could be on a plane to Los Angles. The rest is pretty much history," he says.

But before he officially took the gig, Jeff says he told the producers that if he was going to be a part of the team, they had to truly be of service on the mountain. He didn't want the show to revolve around rescuing rich, inexperienced mountaineers who found themselves out of their element on Everest. He wanted to have a meaningful impact beyond the privileged foreign climbers that showed up in large numbers in the Himalaya. He said that the show's creators agreed with his vision, and promised that they weren't going to Nepal to exploit Everest for ratings – it was a promise they stuck to throughout filming.

Jeff and the members of his team gathered in Kathmandu on April 1, and stayed in the country until June 1. During that time, they made 89 total flights and conducted 38 rescues, of which 24 of those operations were in support of locals, including assisting a Nepali woman who had suffered a miscarriage. For Jeff, this was exactly what he had hoped for – assisting mountaineers in need, but more importantly lending a hand to locals who were in dire need of medical attention.

Most of the ailments that the foreign climbers suffered typically revolved around altitude sickness, with both pulmonary and cerebral edema being very common. But, over the course of two months they also helped individuals who suffered other injuries as well, including a broken back, a bowel obstruction, and one person that had taken a 30-foot fall. "Had we not been there," Jeff says, "more people would have died on Everest this season."

Despite his experience as a medic and a climber, adjusting to flying through the Himalaya in a helicopter took some time. "At first I wasn't comfortable in the back of the helicopter," Jeff tells me. "They're just not meant to be flown at those altitudes," he adds. But over time, and as he got to know the talented pilots, he learned to trust them more. "By the end of production, I was getting along just fine."

Jeff with Bhaila Sherpa of Alpine Rescue Services
When I asked if Jeff had seen any of the completed episodes for "Everest Air" just yet, he tells me that he hasn't. But, when he was asked to do some post-production voice over work, he did get a look at the footage we'll all see on our television screens in a few weeks time. "It looks intense," he says, which should tell viewers something considering he was actually there when the events took place.

Jeff tells me that he is proud of how production went in Nepal, as he and his team stuck to the values they had hoped to adhere. Mainly, help those in need and make a difference in the local communities, something that will be evident when the show debuts. He also says that the entire production crew showed a great deal of respect for the individuals the medical team were assisting, something that runs counter to the reports we've heard from another television network crew that was operating on Everest at the same time.

With just six episodes to show us the entire spring climbing season, "Everest Air" is likely to be quite the action packed show. Obviously they won't be able to show us all of the rescues they conducted, but you can count on plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments for sure. When I asked Jeff if there were any particular rescues that stood out the most, he quickly rattled off a string of different situations that came to mind. In the end, he settled on the operations they conducted that helped the local Nepalis the most as the ones that he'll always cherish.

As viewers, we'll get to decide which of the team's adventures are the most entertaining and dramatic.  "Everest Air" will debut in three weeks time on the Travel Channel starting at 10 PM Eastern Time. Be sure to tune in or set your DVR's accordingly.

(All photos courtesy of Jeff Evans)

Travel Channel Announces Six-Part Mini-Series Focused on Everest Rescue Operations (Updated!)

Everest will once again be the center of attention for an upcoming documentary television series set to air this fall. Yesterday, the Travel Channel announced that it will begin airing Everest Air on Wednesday, October 26 at 10:00 PM EST/9:00 PM CST. The show will be an hour in length and run for six weeks.

Everest Air will reportedly take a look at what it takes to climb the highest mountain on the planet, as viewers meet the men and women who traveled to Nepal this past spring to make an attempt on the summit. But beyond that, the show will focus on a high altitude emergency response team called Alpine Rescue Service that led by Jeff Evans, who is described as "an Everest expert mountaineer, adventurer and medic." Evans and his team conducted a number of rescues on the mountain this past spring, some on foot, but most through the use of a helicopter.

The show promises to provide viewers with awesome views of the Himalaya and Everest in particular, while giving them an inside look at expedition climbing in Nepal. But the main focus will be on Evans and his team of helicopter pilots and rescue Sherpas who work on the mountain. Over the course of the six episodes, I'm sure there will be no shortage of drama as the crew goes about rescuing stranded, sick, and injured climbers.

I've spoken to several people personally who were on Everest this past spring, and two who had to be helicoptered off the mountain from Camp 1. Both indicated that when they were loaded onto a helicopter to be brought down to lower altitude they had cameras shoved in their face with someone asking if it was okay to interview them. Neither was in a really good mood to be interviewed at that point, and indicated as much to the television crew. Obviously others were more than willing to share their stories however, as the show has enough footage and content for its six-episode run.

We're still about two months from the show hitting the air, so I'm sure we'll learn a lot more about it the closer we get to its debut. On the one hand, I'm curious as to how the producers of Everest Air handle the mountaineer aspects of the program, while on the other I'm a bit dismayed that the focus is on rescuing those who were unable to complete the climb. All too often the mainstream media takes an alarmist/extremist view of Everest, playing up the danger their for ratings. In reality, the mountain is indeed a dangerous and difficult climb, but it is one that hundreds of people do successfully in any given year. Usually, the general public only hears about the climbers who die during that attempt. Will this show alter that approach in any way? We'll have to wait to see, but at the moment I remain dubious.

Update: I've heard from several people that wanted to clarify that the camera crew that was so invasive on Everest this past spring was actually from the Discovery Channel and not the Travel Channel. I'm told that Everest Air will indeed be a legitimate, and well made, show that isn't as sensationalistic as I have feared. Hopefully that will be the case. We'll find out in October.

Two British Explorers Rescued From Bering Strait

Last week we received a harsh reminder that exploration is still a difficult, dangerous endeavor, even in the 21st century. On Friday, two British explorers had to be rescued from the Bering Strait when they ran into trouble while attempting to cross that remote stretch of water.

Neil Laughton and James Bingham say they were attempting to reach Little Diomede island in the Bering Sea after departing from Wales, Alaska. They had planned to walk over the frozen water, and use kayaks to paddle over sections that were open. It was on one of those open leads that they ran into trouble.

Apparently, the duo ran into trouble on their first day out, finding the ice conditions to be even more difficult and unpredictable than they had expected. While using their kayaks to paddle across an unfrozen section when the started to run into trouble. Laughton and Bingham were paddling for 8 or 9 hours when they started to see ice build up around their boats. That thin ice made it difficult to keep making progress and they were forced to use their paddles to chip away at the rapidly freezing water. 

Eventually they found that they couldn't push forward any longer, but the ice was too thin to camp on. They ended up spending the night in their kayaks in freezing conditions. Eventually, currents started pushing them further north, where they found the ice to be a bit thicker. This allowed them to exit the kayaks and try to trek forward, but the ice simply wasn't thick enough to support them. With no way to move forward or back, they were forced to call for assistance. 

The two men were rescued on Friday having been spotted from the air just 25 miles (40 km) north of Wales where they first started the expedition. They were flown back to Nome, where they are reported to be in good condition. 

Laughton and Bingham were using this expedition as a practice round for a larger journey they hoped to undergo next year. The two men wanted to reach Little Diomede as a training exercise for an attempt to cross the entire Bering Strait in 2017. Whether or not they still plan to make that crossing remains to be seen, but they got a rude awakening to the challenges on this attempt. The unpredictable ice conditions may make this even more difficult in the years ahead.