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Time Lapse Movie Offers Rare, Stunning Images Of Mount Everest
June 26, 2013
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Canadian adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly has seen some pretty incredible things - and thanks to his chosen profession, we get to see them too.

For instance: this time-lapse video, made up of photographs captured at various locations during Saikaly's last trek up Mount Everest in the Himalayas, the world's highest peak.

He filmed at various spots on his way up the mountain, but he told Strombo.com that the most powerful part of the experience was what became the second-last shot of the video.

"We've seen some images from base camp, Camp 1, 2 and sometimes 3," Saikaly wrote via email. "We rarely, if ever, see images from Camp 4, particularly at night, which is in the 'death zone', the area where your body is deteriorating faster than it can recover."

One of the photographs Saikaly took in the "death zone" (Courtesy Elia Saikaly)

It sounds like it took some serious willpower to get the images he did from the 'death zone':

"I wanted to bring Everest to the world in a unique and inspiring way, so I willed myself out of my warm sleeping bag, strapped an oxygen bottle to my back, exited the tent in -30C weather, set up my tripod, camera and intervelometer, duct taped hand warmers to the camera body and lens and captured the magic," he told us.

"I let the camera run for 2 hours that night."

A shot of Saikaly in his tent in the "death zone" (Courtesy Elia Saikaly)

He was also moved by the experience of shooting footage from the Hillary Step, which he calls "the most iconic and famous obstacle on Everest," although there was one perspective he could have done without.

"I made the mistake of looking down at the 12,000-foot drop on both sides of where I was standing," he told us. "An incredibly humbling experience."

Saikaly wasn't just making the climb to get his own footage. He was also shooting a reality TV series - and sharing his journey on the web in real time - for ePals, a social network for K-12 school kids.

There's been lots of negative coverage of Everest in the news lately, with stories of deaths and traffic jams making the rounds.

After five climbs, Saikaly says there's another side to the story.

"The number of people climbing for causes, for altruistic reasons and for the pure joy of mountaineering is astoundingly unreported and overlooked by the media," he told us.

A tent on the slopes of Everest (Courtesy Elia Saikaly)

He made the video in part to counter negative visions of Everest.

"I wanted to remind people of the magic that surrounds the highest mountain on Earth and why the world continues to aspire to stand on the highest point on Earth," he said.

Saikaly first attempted to climb Everest with his mentor Sean, whose goal was to be the oldest Canadian to reach the peak.

Sadly, he passed away before getting to the summit, but after two more failed attempts, the filmmaker eventually carried Sean's ashes to the top of Everest.

Over the course of many journeys to Nepal, Saikaly decided to develop an interactive learning program called FindingLife, which "transports kids in the classroom on real time journeys around the world."

He also helped build a school and a well in Nepal in honour of his mentor, Sean.


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