Capturing Everest to capture an Emmy

Zach Holland, Writer ; Photographer

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Capturing Everest: 360-Degree VR (Virtual Reality) made by Sports Illustrated and Life VR, has won an Emmy in Outstanding Digital Innovation. It is the first ever time a VR film climbed to the very bottom to the very top of Mount Everest.

Alumnus Michaela Holland made a significant contribution to the project.

Holland worked under Josh Oshinsky and Mia Tramz on the 360 Virtual Reality documentary, Capturing Everest. The documentary is about four climbers, led by Garrett Madison along with Brent Bishop, Lisa Thompson, and amputee Jeff Glasbrenner.

Thompson and Glasbrenner both overcame setbacks. Thompson fought a battle with cancer, and Glasbrenner lost his leg at the age of ten. After getting out of the hospital, Glasbrenner was given a list of things he could and could not do, which included most physical activity.

“And the really bad thing is, I believed them. I mean, you think doctors know best,” said Glasbrenner.

Glasbrenner listened to the idea of not being able to do any physical activity until he found out about wheelchair basketball. He succeeded in the sport and became the world champion. Later he also became a triathlete.

After completing dozens of Ironman triathlons, he was invited by mountaineer Sarah Leone to climb Grand Teton in Wyoming. This is when he decided to try out climbing– he attempted to become the first American amputee climber for Mount Everest.

“‘On Everest, small problems turn into big problems. As they say on the mountain, ‘lose a glove, lose a hand,’” said Glasbrenner in an interview with Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Glasbrenner did this to reject any idea of limits.

“Those doctors telling me I couldn’t do things. Why can’t I? I should never put limits on myself. I viewed that as the ultimate challenge in endurance and dealing with adversity and believing in yourself,” he said.

“It turns out they [doctors] don’t know everything,” said Glasbrenner.

The climb took 44 days.