Climbing Mount Everest has been romanticized and Hollywood-ized over and over again. A new six-week series on the Discovery Channel does neither. "Everest: Beyond the Limit," that debuted last night, shows the world's highest mountain at its best and the climbers who strive to reach its summit at their best and worst. The series features a strange cast of characters - a strapping, 6'5" former Hells Angel whose accident-ravaged body is held together by plates and screws; an asthmatic teacher from Denmark who is climbing without supplemental oxygen, a Los Angeles firefighter back after a failed climbing attempt last year; and a guy with no legs - Mark Inglis (above), a New Zealander who lost his limbs to frostbite in a climbing accident more than two decades ago.
Each of these climbers has something to prove, and they've chosen the most inhospitable arena in the world as the place they will do it. Their quest is covered with an unsympathetic eye, with camera shots of a climber whose brain has swelled and caused his eyes to bulge, to another suffering cerebral edema on the route at 21,000 feet.... and these guys aren't even half-way up the mountain yet.