After the deadliest day in history on Mt. Everest last week — an avalanche that killed at least 13 people — Discovery Channel has canceled its long-planned “Everest Jump Live” TV special next month.
The plan was for professional mountain climber Joby Ogwyn, 39, to attempt the first wing suit flight off the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. Out of respect for those who died in the avalanche, which hit a group Sherpa guides climbing the mountain, the event will be canceled.
“In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mt. Everest and respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with ‘Everest Jump Live,’” the network said in a statement on Sunday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community.”
Three people are still missing as of this weekend, the AP reported, while four are being treated for injuries at a Nepal hospital.
According to Deadline, Ogwyn was at base camp during the avalanche, and the NBC News team getting ready for the special was also on-site. (The show was going to be produced by NBC, with Willie Geist as host.) “The immediate priority for Joby and the team is to assist the search and rescue efforts in anyway possible,” Discovery told Deadline.
Last week, Discovery announced that it would broadcast five nights of live programming from Everest Base Camp (simulcast on the Science Channel) starting on May 5, leading up to Ogwyn’s jump, scheduled to take place during a two-hour live special on May 11. In addition to Geist, the network planned for the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore to “serve as chief meteorologist and track Everest’s highly unpredictable weather conditions.”
This was going to be the latest dangerous live special for Discovery — last June, adventurer and aerialist Nik Wallenda did a tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, which brought in massive ratings.
In a recent interview with The Post, Ogwyn — a record-breaking mountain climber who started intensively training for the jump about a year and a half ago — spoke about the challenge of being in the Mt. Everest atmosphere even for a short amount of time. “It’s a hard place to live,” he said. However, he added, in terms of the Discovery show, he didn’t feel any extra pressure knowing that this historic feat would take place on camera in front of millions.
“It doesn’t change what I have to do on the mountain in any way at all,” said Ogwyn, who became the youngest American to climb to the top of Everest at age 24. “Once we’ve reached the top and we start doing what we’re doing, I don’t even notice those guys around me. We’re communicating and making a television show for sure. So I’m coordinating with them to make it work — but it has no effect on me and what I have to do.”
In a note on his Facebook page on Saturday, Ogwyn said he would be forming a charity to honor those who died.
“Soon I will release the name of the new charity I am forming to take care of our fallen Sherpa and those who could fall in the future,” he wrote. “We must honor them and take care of our friends and their families.”