Monday, December 17, 2007
Thoughts On NBC's K2 Special
Did anyone else catch the K2 Special that was part of the Jeep World of Adventure Sports that aired yesterday on NBC? I recorded it and finally had a chance to watch it last night, and thought that I'd share some thoughts on the show.
First, I'd have to say that NBC did a great job of showing how difficult the climb is. The footage that they captured was astounding at times, with some really amazing views of the mountain and the area surrounding it. I liked that they showed us a glimpse of the long, treacherous drive into the Karakorum, followed by several more days of trekking, just to get to the mountain itself. It helped to convey how truly remote the region is, and what the climbers had to go through before they ever set foot on K2.
I also felt that they did a good job explaining the approach to the climb. The narrator, Al Trautwig, talked about establishing base camp as well as the higher camps on the mountain, while also explaining how the team set down fixed lines and worked the route. For a mainstream audience, tuning into a show on mountaineering for the first time, I thought that they made everything easy to follow and understand.
As I mentioned earlier, the video footage was amazing, especially in HD. Watching the team work their way through the ice falls was breathtaking, and the shots from higher on the mountain were spectacular as well. At some points, when they stopped to interview the climbers about what they were doing, you could often catch glimpses of the Karakorum in the background, which looked jaw droppingly beautiful. The shots of the team breaking trail through fresh snow were also amazing, as they often stood chest deep in the white stuff as they struggled to go up. Shots from the summit were similarly awe inspiring, and watching the Shared Summits team reach their goal was a joy.
While watching the show, it was hard to not compare it to Discovery Channel's Everest: Beyond The Limit. It's not really fair to compare them, but the comparison still seems inevitable considering the subject matter. In this case, I would have liked to have seen more than one hour dedicated to the climb. It seemed like the show moved along very quickly, and while you got a sense of how much time passed, thanks to the onscreen prompts, it was still surprising to see "Day 40" appear. Beyond The Limit has the advantage in this area, having eight episodes to play with, which allows us to get to know the climbers much more fully, something that was missing a bit on the K2 special. On the other hand, NBC didn't bog us down with a lot of rehashed elements nor any drama other than what the mountain had to throw at the team.
In the end, I thought the show was excellent. It really did give us a glimpse of K2, a mountain that is orders of magnitude harder to climb than Everest, and hammered home what type of personality is required to go after a summit like that one. I'd love to see more shows like this one on a mainstream network and hopefully future episodes of Jeep World of Adventure Sports will continue what they've started here. It was great to see something other than Everest for a change, and a regular mountaineering segment would be most appreciated.