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Discovery to chronicle Everest avalanche



NEW YORK (AP) - With its dreams of televising a daredevil's attempt to jump off Mount Everest over, the Discovery network said Tuesday it will instead make a documentary on last week's avalanche that killed more than a dozen mountain guides.

Discovery President Eileen O'Neill said the network hopes to air the film within the next few weeks. Discovery will encourage viewers to donate to a relief fund for families of the Sherpa guides killed in Everest's most deadly disaster.

"It gives us a sense of responsibility because we are there and have the resources and wherewithal to tell the story," O'Neill said. "We want to have the right tribute."

Several of the Sherpas killed were helping prepare for American Joby Ogwyn's planned jump from the summit in a wingsuit. Discovery planned to show the stunt on television worldwide on May 11. Thirteen bodies were recovered from the avalanche at the mountain's treacherous Khumbu Icefall, with three people still missing.

Ogwyn said in an interview Tuesday that while he agreed with the decision to end his project, he hopes to jump off Everest sometime in the future.

Sherpa teams were preparing the climb for several expeditions, including Ogwyn's team and employees of Peacock Productions, the NBC-affiliated firm that was producing Discovery's telecast. Discovery announced on Sunday, two days after the avalanche, that it was abandoning the attempted jump.

Discovery pulled the plug both out of sensitivity toward the Sherpa community and an inability to assess the stability of the mountain post-avalanche, O'Neill said.

"The success rate of such an ambitious project that needed to have everything go right was greatly compromised," she said. "It was a collection of issues that really gave us no choice."

A climb to the summit probably would have been impossible even if Discovery had wanted to go forward: Most surviving Sherpa guides have since decided to leave Everest. Considering the climbing season at the world's highest peak is generally confined to May because of weather, that will severely curtail expeditions.

There was some initial confusion about whether Ogwyn was onboard with Discovery's decision. He tweeted on Sunday, before the cancellation was announced, that "today is a brighter day. We are staying on the mountain to honor our friends and complete our project."

Ogwyn said he was simply trying to set an example by showing a positive attitude to his expedition team and the Sherpas.

"I just wanted to support them," he said. "If my message was interpreted in a different way, that was not my intention."

Ogwyn said conditions on Everest were more dangerous this year than he had seen in the past. He heard and witnessed the avalanche and didn't think it was that bad at first, because he had witnessed avalanches there that were louder and dislodged more ice and snow.

He remained on the mountain to help in the recovery effort for the bodies. Ogwyn said he'll also participate in Discovery's documentary, and he wants it to tell the story of Sherpas and how they are essential to Everest climbs.

O'Neill wouldn't say how much Discovery had paid for the mission, which the network hoped would be a big ratings-grabber along the lines of Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon. Making a documentary on the disaster would allow the network to recoup some of its investment.

Ogwyn is not abandoning his goal of being the first person to jump off the top of the world.

"I'm not the sort of person who is deterred by obstacles and hurdles in achieving my dreams and I fully intend on coming back very soon," he said. "I'm not sure how exactly, but I would very much like to complete my project."

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GUNSLINGER April 23 2014 at 9:26 AM

I always heard, "the show must go on"! Guess not?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
hole13 April 23 2014 at 9:09 AM

Maybe seeing this will discourage the hoards of people, who have no business climbing Mt. Everest, to have a second thought about making this climb. I am glad the Ice Drs. and Sherpas have decided to go home but I feel for them in losing their financial support for the families. They have been doing this for years without major incidents. Maybe the mountain, Jungmalunga, is saying enough exploitation and littering, let me be.

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LunarSnowStorm April 22 2014 at 7:13 PM

To me , it sounds like the guy who was going to jump actually got a good look up there and said F this.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ps9977 April 22 2014 at 7:20 PM

Out of respect for the Sherpas, it is a good gesture for all of us. There will be another day to do the stunt. Everest will still be there. Next stunt may be jumping to the Everest from an airplane!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rodspace53 April 22 2014 at 11:27 PM

They will do whatever brings the most ratings, which equals MONEY.
I'm sure they couldn't care less about the Sherpas.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Brian Workman April 22 2014 at 10:16 PM

Why stop while your behind Discovery Network ?!?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ajafullmn April 22 2014 at 7:52 PM

OMG. some one with a brain went to work at Discovery. This not only should have been cancelled, it should never have even been considered.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
ransomwright April 22 2014 at 10:55 PM

Sherpa's make $5,000 a year while the tour companies make a hell of a lot more than that. The mountain is littered with junk and now, finally, the sherpa's are going on strike. I hope they get whatever it is they are fighting for. I personally have great respect for these guides, but the peole they are helping to climb are no better than the big game hunters of the past. Rich parasites.

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Joebudgie April 22 2014 at 8:44 PM

Personally I think base jumpers have a few screws loose. I love to look at the ground from great heights and sometimes day dream what it might be like to fly like a bird but I can enjoy the view and my thoughts without risking my life to do it. I'm especially amazed at the guy who died last week jumping off a mountain top in the Pacific North West in the early morning hours. He left a loving wife who is 6 or 7 months pregnant and an 8 year old child at home who will never see him again. Nice going chump. Threw away his life for a couple minutes adrenaline rush. Bah, Humbug.

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theholly April 22 2014 at 9:22 PM

Just another stupid attempt to do something to get acclaim, very unfortunately it killed at least 12 guides who knew the mountain, and the risks. Is this where TV is going? Maybe if they had footage of the Malaysian flight going down in the plane, they would want to show that over and over.
No respect! No dignity! No brains...

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1 reply
lishore theholly April 22 2014 at 10:44 PM

Prior to teams trying to summit, there is a designated Sherpa team that prepares a route thru the Khumbu Icefall, the most dangerous part of the climb, as there is almost always loose snow and ice seracs that can fall at any time without notice. The first hint you get is tons of snow and ice coming down on you. The Sherpa teams do this every climbing season, for all the expeditions that are attempting to climb. Odds of reaching the summit are not good. Over the decades, of 20 people who go up, only 19 come down.
They were preparing a route for all climbers, not just the Discovery team. Being very religious and a bit superstitious, the Sherpas probably see this event as a bad omen, and Chomolungma, the local name for the Everest deity, is not pleased. Hence, they are through for the season.
BTW, I have been to Base Camp twice...

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
DJ lishore April 23 2014 at 2:20 AM

Thank you. Nice to read something from an informed source.

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Bill Jameson lishore April 23 2014 at 4:37 AM

you heard my reply, Joby is doing the Right, its NOT about the "Flash" its about no one has ever done it. What we have here is a bunch of why do it's? Man is either going to suceed or die, thats HIS thrill.

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