Experience the beauty of Mt. Everest at night in this time-lapse. Through the lens of award-winning filmmaker, Elia Saikaly, the following account details the inspiration behind this magnificent footage:
While most climbers slept, I attempted to capture some of the magic that the Himalayan skies have to offer while climbing to the top of the world.
These time lapse Images were captured as high as 6200m (camp 2) above sea level on Mt. Everest. We slept at 6000m for three consecutive nights on the summit of Mt. Lobuche East waiting for a glimpse of Everest from that vantage point. Around 11pm on the 2nd night, the skies opened up and the top of the world revealed herself in all of her glory.
No where else on the planet have I ever seen the Milky Way so clear, so vivid and so very much alive. It takes a great deal of discipline to stay up all night capturing the magic for the world to experience. Cameras freeze.Shutters freeze. Batteries freeze. Humans freeze. The high altitude environment is debilitating at best. Your body is taking a constant beating by the low levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. The higher you climb of course, the worse this becomes.
And yet… this is heaven on Earth for me. This is my comfort zone. This is where I feel alive. This is where the combination of my love for imagery, astrophotography, storytelling and connection with the mountains all intersect. I toss logic out the window on clear nights and run all of my cameras until all batteries are exhausted, CF cards are filled and the sun re-emerges for yet another beautiful day. It’s my oxygen. It fuels me. Energizes me. And keeps me in a flow state.
On a more human and less technical note: I’ve kept these images hidden for almost 4 years. They were created in 2014 and 2015 – the two deadliest seasons in Everest history. Many lost their lives and I was at ground zero both years. I’m not sure I’ll ever un-see what I saw those two seasons during and after the avalanches. Somehow I felt keeping these images hidden showed respect for the fallen. The images at camp 2 were created right after the 2014 avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas. We were trapped above the area where 16 died at Camp 1 and 2 and had to remain in place for three days, unable to assist in the evacuations. Shooting the night skies helped with the helplessness we all felt. In 2015, everything you see in this video was captured days before we got hit by the avalanche at basecamp during the Earthquake. No one can ever be prepared fo such devastation. It’s taken a long time to work through the loss and perhaps somehow, releasing these images is my way of fully letting go and remembering the beauty, the wonder and freedom that comes along with climbing the world’s tallest peak. Chomolongma – Mother Goddess of the Earth.