Bending Horizons: Mt Everest expeditionary-artist, Sagarmāthā, 2015
Pell reached Mt. Everest Base Camp. She intended to make art to the Summit. Survived the Gorka earthquakes.
Seven Summits Everest Expedition Summit Team
Sarah Jane Pell (AU), Satyabarata Dam (IN) Sherpa Mingma Thendu (NP) Sherpa Nim Dorjee (NP)
While Bending Horizons is the most complex project that I have ever proposed to undertake, on many levels, it is the most simple, timeless and human endeavour: walk to the top of the mountain, discover things along the way, and share that with others – something humans have been doing since developing capacity for self-awareness. I just happen to be exploring a rather tall mountain, with some pretty interesting skills and technologies to help me share this while I am on the move, and to much bigger tribes distributed across the planet... If there is good connectivity from the Base Camp, I will report live from the "Punja" blessings, acclimatisation, approach and ascent phases. Hashtag #EverestArtist #BendingHorizons
Bending Horizons introduces you to the mission, vision and passion for making art to the summit of Mt. Everest. The story begins with three key inspirational moments spanning ten years. They Artist-Astronaut Dr. Sarah Jane Pell is exploring a translocated embodiment through extreme performance in a series of expeditions from Sea, to Summit, to Space 2015-2017. Sarah turns to Nepal for the 2015 climbing season: seeking the blessings of Sagarmāthā to continue this extraordinary high altitude space analogue expedition and feature film.
(1) Climbing a grade 21 multi-pitch at Mt. Arapilis for my 21st birthday, I meet Brigitte Muir soloing a grade 24 climb. I incorporate rock climbing as a
form of choreography in my first major commissioned public programs performance 'The Many-to-Many-World', held in The Great Hall at the National Gallery of
Victoria, 1997. Muir becomes the the first Australian woman to summit Mt. Everest (May 27, 1997).
(2) In Melbourne 1999, Sue Gregory asks me to assist her with a suprise plan to restore an original timepiece for her husband Alfred Gregory: the official photographer of the first successful Mt. Everest summit expedition by Tenzing and Norgay (1953). Alf is moved to tears. He presents me with a signed book of his photos and describes what wonder might remain for the artist given today's noisey traffic "up there".
(3) NASA Astronaut and Everest Summiteer Scott Parazynski describes “The vacuum of space is not that dissimilar from high on Everest” (2007).
In an effort to push the boundaries of what defines exploration, I have invited a Board to guide the Bending Horizons dream. The 2015 Board of Advisors serves to advocate, encourage, and hold me accountable to the expedition mission and core values. There is no limit to the ways their contributions will help redefine the concept of exploration --from a big idea and passion-- to exciting talent, leadership and insight in the arts, business, technology, exploration, environment and social engagement.
Training for High Altitude (2014) Alpine Climbing, Exposure and Remoteness
The physical and mental conditioning for high altitude mountaineering is rigorous. The expedition timeline includes pre-conditioning, technical training, expedition experience at altitude, and alpine acclimatisation. My training schedule includes 2-3 hours of physical exercise per day, six days per week; eating well at ideal times for strength, nutrition and energy; drinking a min 4 ltrs water per day, and avoiding alcohol. I aim to gain 6 kgs of excess body fat four-months before departure by eating a bowl of carbs (pasta, rice, cereal) right before sleeping, without reducing my fitness motivation or focus. Then gain an additional excess of 4 kg in the final two weeks during the pre-climb rest phase.
physical and mental gains, losses, and set-backs
I was advised by alpinist guide Satyabrata Dam. From Oct 2013, I started supplementary training with the Melbourne Flames Dragonboat Crew. By Dec 2014, I joined gym sessions with head coach, Serghie Cucsa to supplment core strength, cardiac fitness, small muscle development, and speed work. Just when all seemed to be on track, I fractured my sternum and ribs during routine bench press training, prematurely suspending all physical activity and prioritising rest and recuperation. At six weeks before departing for Kathmandu, this was two weeks prior to the planned “final rest and get fat” phase of my schedule. Two tips helped me work on my weight gain while my body reduced the inflammation and healed...
Planning the Route: SOUTH COL
The Sagarmāthā South Col Route was taken by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and is still the route used most frequently. It goes through the Khumbu Icefall and Western Cwm, up the Lhotse Face and past the South Col and Hillary Step to the summit of Mt. Everest. In 2015, Dr. Sarah Jane Pell trekked from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. Surviving the Nepal earthquakes, she will return to summit in 2016.
Packing and Equipment List
a 360-degree video and visualisations
It is a huge technical and creative challenge to climb Mt. Everest and explore practice-based-research in-the-field. No single expedition equipment list therefore is going to cut it. Here is what I first started with and then expanded upon:
Making art on an Expedition
a 360-degree video and visualisations
During the Bending Horizons 2015 Mt. Everest Summit Expedition, artist Dr. Sarah Jane Pell will upload HD 360-degree video and visualisations of unique Art (expression) made on location, paired with the relevant GPS location, altitude and body sensor data, and creative insights into the experience. Audiences will be invited to share in this unique live ‘expression’ of the extreme-performance via the Bending Horizons expedition website. This project will culminate an interactive exhibition and the first HD panorama interactive documentary of a Mt. Everest summit expedition experience from an artist’s perspective. Pell aims to make a unique contribution to the field in her attempt to record the condition of extreme performance in exploration
So excited to share with you my plans to summit Mt. Everest and make art-on-location at 1000m intervals to the top at 8848m to test novel outreach platforms for space analogue training, that I have neglected to explain the reasons behind it. Not that the challenge needed added complexity or pressure, rather I wanted to test the idea, that taking 5-8mins for reflection and personal expression, may in fact, become part of a broader strategy for extreme performance and survival.
Trek to Everest Base Camp (April-May 2015)
Seven Summits Expeditions
Emily Harridge (Australia) and Satyabrata Dam (India) accompanied by his friends the Bonaert family (Belgium), joined Dr. Pell on the trek from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp with the Seven Summits Treks guides, sherpas, porters and staff. Each member of the team was invited for their unique passions, and skills including suitable mental, social and physical fitness (see profiles below). Our goal was to communicate the experience in support of the Bending Horizons documentary and escort me and the Everest climbing party to Base Camp.
Surviving the Nepal Earthquakes (April 2015)
Hotel Viashali, Thamel, Kathmandu
1. (25 April) Survived first quake. 2. (25 April) Emergency accommodation Hotel Vaishali, Thamel 3. (26 April) deserted Thamel 4. (25 April) No communications, no power. 5. (27 April) First newspaper release. 6. (27 April) Hotel Vaishali courtyard. 7. (28 April) Australian Embassy, Bansbari 8. (27 April) Hotel Viashali departing vigil 9. (Day3/4/5?) Kathmandu Int. Airport thousands trying to get a flight out - anywhere! The 2015 Bending Horizons Everest Summit Expedition was aborted due to the Gorkha earthquakes and waves of after-shocks that shook the region. The destruction and trauma was mind-blowing. By fate rather than design, I escaped the carnage on Everest and Thamel when 8800 others were not so lucky. The infrastructure across the region shut down, and the climbing season suspended. I did what I could, then left the country prematurely with survivors guilt, and a gaping hole in my heart.
- Everest as a Spaceflight Analogue Performance
Dr. Sarah Jane Pell seeks to frame an awareness of the connections between bodily and sensory experience from sea, to summit, to space. With many years commercial diving experience behind her, she set out create artwork at various altitudes during the ascent of Mt. Everest as the next step in the journey. Pell began to map the range of challenging limitations and extraordinary capabilities of the body, mind, technology and environment, when trekking, climbing and making art in this beautiful part of the Himalayas. Using a research through performance approach, she also recorded her journey in 4K HD for a hybrid 360-degree interactive documentary and further research upon her return. It is hoped that these accounts and artefacts provide a significant opportunity for new understanding of human performance, behaviour, and limits during the moments of exertion, exposure and excitement. Pell's research will therefore contribute the first substantial investigation into performance exploration supporting translations between extreme material agency and spatial territories, establishing the field of ‘extreme performance’.
Thank you to the Expedition Partners, Sponsors and Backers. Without you, this project would not be possible. Graci.
Mt Everest Summit Expedition
Bending Horizons Mission Patch
Sir Alfred Gregory photographer first Mt. Everest summit
Saturday, 29 July 2017 (T+1)
Rendezvous, docking, hatch opening and crew welcome.
Everest Base Camp Trek
Soyuz FG rocket installation Launch site num. 1.
Crew Final Pre-Launch Press Conference.
High Altitude Performance, AU 2015
Victoria University, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL); and RMIT University, Exertion Games Lab
PERSEO, water-filled wearable prototype experiment
Nespoli validates a radiation countermeasure technology.
SPAC3, the artistic and cultural project
With ESA, RAM radioartemobile, ASI and Pistoletto.
DO Lectures Australia, Yarra Glen 2015
"Understand inner resourcefulness" Paynes Hut, 2015
Amplify, Sydney 2015
"Return from Everest" Amplify 10th Anniversary Festival Keynote, AMP Sydney AU.
"How do you keep the dream alive, when things get very real?" Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre 2015
NEAF & Awesome Festival, Perth 2015
Live radio interview with the Magnolias JNR (aged 10-14) Art Gallery of Western Australia.