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Everest actors use University of Portsmouth's simulated high altitude labs

The University of Portsmouth's extreme environments laboratories helped Hollywood stars prepare for disaster film Everest


Hollywood stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin used the University of Portsmouth’s extreme environments laboratories to prepare for filming in freezing high altitude conditions for the current smash hit disaster film, Everest.


The actors also sought the advice of University of Portsmouth’s Professor Mike Tipton and his team to explore how their bodies and clarity of thought would be affected in extreme cold.


Professor Tipton told Hotcourses Abroad that working with the actors was a great experience.


“They were nice people interested in learning and using the experience to improve what they did when acting,” said Professor Tipton.


“They said they really enjoyed the visit and they certainly laughed a lot, but maybe that was the altitude!”

The film crew visited the university in December 2013, spending time in the cold chamber, set to -20°C and to 5,000m altitude, to mimic the temperature at Everest Base Camp before heading to Nepal for filming.


The University of Portsmouth's laboratories were set to -20°C and 5,000m altitude for the actors


“At extreme cold, the body slows down considerably as does the ability to think rationally or to string a coherent sentence together,” said Professor Tipton. “It can be quite shocking for people preparing to enter an extreme environment to realise how debilitating it can be and how important it is to prepare.”


Preparation helps partly by acclimatising people, and partly by ensuring they expect people might behave out of character.”


Everest, which was released in the UK this month, is based on a real-life tragedy in 1996, in which climbers fought for survival after a brutal storm.


Everest Base Camp. Photo: Ilkerender


The University of Portsmouth is often approached by film-makers, journalists and sportspeople and crew from all kinds of TV genres to use their high-tech laboratories.


Portsmouth alumni and TV personality Ben Fogle often frequented the labs when preparing to row across the Atlantic and undertake an expedition to the South Pole.


Team GB open water swimmers also used the university's facilities to train for the water temperature they would face in China in the Beijing Olympics.


“We are the only place to have a temperature controlled swimming flume in a temperature controlled lab that can also go to altitude - we can let you swim in warm water on the top of Everest,” noted Tipton.

Wondering whether you can access these facilities as a University of Portsmouth student? Professor Tipton said the laboratory is open to a wide range of students.


“We have all kinds of students including sports science, medical, physiology, biology, occupational health, and they all get to use the facilities and kit,” he said.


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About Author

Katie Duncan is Editor of Hotcourses Abroad and is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and University of Exeter graduate. Having worked at an English language school in the UK, as an educational consultant in Spain and as a reporter in the international education sector, she is well placed to guide you through your study abroad journey. Katie grew up in Australia, which perhaps explains her unusual reptile collection, comprising of a bearded dragon (Bill) and tortoise (Matilda).


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