One of the most exciting aspects about live television is the “anything goes” mantra that comes along with it, as some of the best parts of a concert or awards ceremony are the things no one could have planned. Discovery’s Everest Jump Live was a special event meant to take advantage of that spontaneity by documenting one of the most dangerous stunts every conceived, but real life tragedy struck in the form of the deadliest avalanche in Everest’s recorded history. As such, it’s no surprise Discovery announced the special has been cancelled, along with all of its accompanying coverage.
Set to air as a live broadcast all over the world on May 11, Everest Jump Live was to focus on mountain climber Joby Ogwyn’s first ever wingsuited jump from Mount Everest's summit. Discovery had planned to chronicle Ogwyn’s journey and daredevilish background on the five nights prior to the jump, and the jump itself was to utilize GoPro cameras to give audiences the same point of view Ogwyn would have as he flew through the air. It would have definitely been the most exciting non-Game of Thrones thing to happen to Sunday nights this year.
But on Friday, April 18, an avalanche rocked Everest’s mountainside and took the lives of 13 Sherpa guides from a group of around 50, with several still missing and many more suffering non-fatal injuries. The Sherpas were out packing the commercial trails with supplies in anticipation for the climbing season, which was set to begin later this month but is now in jeopardy. You can watch a particularly harrowing video of the disaster below.
Via TV Line, Discovery put out a press statement saying they wouldn’t be going forward with the project out of respect to the families. But there’s no denying the issue of safety played a large part in that decision. One has to wonder how this will affect future projects centered on the landmark, such as Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest, especially if people stop trying to climb it for a while. Considering Discovery chose the May 11 date specifically because weather conditions would have made the jump easier, one has to wonder how many more lives might have been lost had the avalanche happened during actual climbing season.
My guess is, it won’t be long before Ogwyn and Discovery figure out a different way to use the live TV idea to their advantage. Maybe a flight through the Grand Canyon or a ripoff of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from orbit? I’ll be watching, and I may or may not be wearing a Superman costume when I do.
We here at Cinema Blend send our thoughts and condolences to the families and friends of those affected by the tragedy.