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.