Breathing On Everest

On May 13th 2016 Nick Talbot became the first person with Cystic Fibrosis to summit Mount Everest. 

 

          Breathing on Everest is a documentary that follows Nick Talbot, a mountaineer with Cystic Fibrosis, as he attempts to summit Mount Everest. Nick's adventures from breathing at high altitude to surviving a life-changing earthquake, prove that Cystic Fibrosis will not define him. Director, producer, and fellow CFer, Meredith Gaito will not let the struggle of living with the lung disease stop her either as she coordinates the film from half-way across the world.

 

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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and other major organs. A defective gene creates a build up of mucus in the body which, among other symptoms, makes it difficult to breathe.

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Mount Everest

Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, stands at 29,029 feet. Each breath at that altitude provides one-third of the oxygen that same breath would provide at sea level.

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Nick Talbot is a British mountaineer, Cystic Fibrosis sufferer, and activist. He climbs for the challenge, to raise awareness about CF and to raise funds for research to make CF stand for Cure Found. 

      

        Though Nick considers himself lucky to have been born with such a mild case of CF, he has still had many struggles with the disease. Nick was diagnosed with CF when he was 12 years-old after nearly dying of pneumonia. His main struggles with the illness have been breathing difficulty and lung infections. Throughout his life he has experienced severe lung infections that required IV antibiotics, hospital visits, and even led to hemoptysis (coughing up blood).  

       Nick has found a way to cope with his illness by turning to the mountains. Nick's passion for climbing has taken him all over the world. He has conquered several peaks in the Alps and even summited Cho Oyu, the world's sixth highest mountain. Most recently, he has set his sights on Mt. Everest. Nick first went to the mountain in 2014 when an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa workers and ended the season early. Breathing On Everest followed Nick to Nepal for the 2015 climbing season but the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated the country put an end to his attempt. This past spring Nick returned for his third time and the documentary team went with him to capture his journey as he gave it his all to raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. 

Sierra, Nick, and Mike trekking in Nepal on their way to base camp.

Sierra, Nick, and Mike trekking in Nepal on their way to base camp.


Meredith Gaito, Producer / Director:
          Meredith is a director, producer, writer and co-owner of Grand Journey Productions. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as an infant. While browsing Facebook one afternoon, she spotted a small article about Nick’s 2014 attempt to summit Mt.Everest. As a lifelong athlete and passionate filmmaker, she was inspired by Nick’s story and knew immediately that she had to help tell it. Meredith is excited and honored to be able to capture this amazing adventure, as the director and producer of Breathing on Everest.

Meredith Gaito

Meredith Gaito

Sierra Johansen, Producer / Cinematographer:
          Sierra is happiest with a plane ticket and a camera in hand. She has contributed to multiple independent films as a cinematographer, including several under Meredith's direction. Sierra also continues to work on up-and-coming projects as a co-owner of Grand Journey Productions. She is thrilled to work alongside Meredith  again to help tell such an incredible story that takes place in the heart of Himalayas.

Michael Pacyna, Production:
          Mike eagerly accepted the opportunity to be a part of the Breathing on Everest crew and travel to Nepal despite having never left the U.S. before. He has directed multiple short films including The Succubus Campaign. Mike has also made a reputation for himself as a talented and hard-working gaffer and assistant cameraman.

Sierra and Mike at Mount Everest base camp after a Puja ceremony.

Sierra and Mike at Mount Everest base camp after a Puja ceremony.

Nicholas J. DeMicco, Producer:
          Nicholas is a 27 year-old director and producer, who has won multiple awards in the greater New York area for his film, Grafters. When he is not traveling for film festivals, he is producing and directing other projects under his own production company, Virtuous. Nicholas is one of the main producers on the documentary.

Ryan D. Moore, Producer:
          Ryan is a 24 year-old writer and producer with quite a few scripts under his belt. Whether it’s a comedy such as, Frank and Franklin or a thriller like, Grafters, Ryan has proved he really has a talent for telling stories. Ryan is contributing to the documentary as story consultant and producer. 

Cassandra Johnson, Social Media Relations:
          Cassandra is a freelance filmmaker who is constantly adding new roles to her resume. Her voice and enthusiam behind the scenes has played a vital part in establishing Breathing On Everest's social media presence. 

         Each breath taken on the summit of Mount Everest provides one-third of the oxygen that that same breath would provide at sea level. The perils of altitude sickness at this height debilitate even the healthiest of Mount Everest’s climbers. Each breath is precious every step an accomplishment and each day could be your last.

          The struggle to breathe is a fight that these climbers will only know for a few weeks of their lives. For Cystic Fibrosis sufferers this fight happens not just on the world’s highest peak but every day in their own homes. This genetic disease affects the lungs and pancreas among other organs. Currently, the average life expectancy of a CF sufferer is 37 years-old, with the main cause of death being lung failure. This disease demands attention every day from those suffering from it even in the best of conditions. 

         Nick Talbot will put himself under extreme conditions for nearly two months; battling the altitude, the elements and his illness in order to accomplish his dreams of reaching the summit and raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. He climbs for everyone who cannot; particularly for those with CF who are too sick to achieve their goals. Furthermore, he will come to fully understand how the sickest people with CF live everyday. We hope that by sharing his story you may begin to understand too.

Meredith and the rest of the Breathing On Everest team hope that this film will raise awareness about Cystic Fibrosis and encourage others to pursue their dreams.

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Photos from Nick's Attempts
to Summit Mt. Everest

2016:

Nick Talbot, Sierra Johansen, and the Climbing Team.

 

2015:

Nick Talbot, Sierra Johansen, Michael Pacyna, and the Climbing Team.