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Not an Easy Rescue Mission in Thailand; Trump and Putin will Have Private Moment During Summit; Trump is Upset with NATO Allies Failing to Contribute. Democrats Pushing Unwise Tactics. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 4, 2018 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: -- rescue mission. Now the Thailand's missing boys have been found rescuers are learning just how tough it will be to get them out of that flooded cave.

Plus, President Trump sends a warning, not to his enemies but to Washington's biggest allies. Why the U.S. leader is challenging some long-standing diplomatic ties.

And a decades' long curse ends for England finally winning a penalty shootout to stay alive in the World Cup.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Military planners in Thailand are weighing their options for how to get a youth football team and their coach out of a flooded cave. New video shows the boys with blankets telling their families they are in good health after a week in and a half underground.

Navy SEALS staying with the group practicing swimming and showing them how to use oxygen masks. Now authorities are considering bringing the boys out one at a time with two divers assigned to each boy.

Our Anna Coren joins us now from northern Thailand. And Anna, of course we talked last hour, we talked about that map showing the extent of this cave system, those small spaces. It's going to be a very daunting endeavor for these young boys to go through some of these small spaces. But you also mentioned a chicken was heard and that has opened up the possibility of some exit, possibly near the boys. Talk to us about that.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I know it sounds pretty random and initially I think everyone thought these kids were or this one child was hallucinating. However, he said I grew up on a farm. I know what a chicken. He must be referring to a rooster, and sure enough, Rosemary, I heard a rooster when I was doing live hit dawn this morning.

So they are loud and they live in this jungle. That means if he did hear a rooster there is an access point above close to where they are. So this really is quite a stunning development, if it is in fact true. We know that authorities have now got a team, a rescue team heading up

into the hills behind us to look for those chimneys, those air holes, if you like. We spoke to one of the men who is actually working with the local guys here. He's part of that group. And he said we have to look for signs of the cave breathing.

And he says you look for cold air coming out of the cave and because they know now where the boys are, this specific location, it will make it much easier to, I guess reduce the area that they're going to look at. He said if they find the right air hole, it's like finding the right piece of the puzzle it will not take very long then for them to get down to repel down.

Obviously a bit of maneuvering but there would be a direct line all the way down to the chamber where the boys would be.

And as we know, Rosemary, you know, getting them out by rope would be so much easier than these boys having to navigate these four kilometers of a labyrinth of a cave, where, as you say some of these -- some of these areas these small passage ways they are completely flooded and these boys will have to breathe through the full face oxygen masks to make their way out of this cave.

So I guess what, you know, we can say is that authorities are now looking at all options, which they always were doing. But I guess this gives them hope that perhaps they can access the cave from the roof.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, let's are hope that that option with that we see an outcome with that. Because the problem with these boys diving out a few of these experts are now backing away from whether they thing this is a particularly good idea, given that some of these boys can't even swim.

And they are talking about two hours, the possibility of being there in that cave system for two hours trying to get out. There are so many things that could go wrong. Talk to us about what's being said about that option.

COREN: Yes. I mean, they can't swim and they certainly haven't dived and you think how terrifying it would be to have to be breathing to an oxygen mask and going through these narrow passageways in the pitch black in cold water being dragged.

And remember there are flood waters in these caves. They're strong. This is not just, you know, some idle water. This is a torrent. So it would be terrifying for the boys.

[03:04:58] And Rosemary, from video that we saw this morning, you know, these kids while they're smiling and say we're healthy, they look gaunt. They have lost so much weight. They are pale and they are weak.

And we have from governors this morning he said it won't today, the rescue won't happen today. But when we do, the boys have to be 100 percent safe. He also said that they probably will have to stagger each child coming out because they're not all really, they're not all in good condition.

So really the boys' health is paramount. Getting them healthy. We know those navy SEAL divers who are with them, in particular the doctor is looking after them very, very well. They're wrapped in blankets. They're getting food. They're getting what they need but it takes time. They've now been inside that cave, Rosemary, for 11 days.

CHURCH: It is such a long time in such a confined area and as you mentioned, you know, this fear about the water levels rising. We just keep our fingers crossed that young boy who is very smart to figure out that if there's a chicken in there must be some sort of entrance out of that system. So we will continue to watch this very closely. Our Anna Coren, thank you so much for your reporting from northern Thailand.

Well, the two British divers who discovered the lost boys had to swim, climb and scramble through treacherous underground terrain to reach them. But surprisingly neither one is a professional diver. They're both volunteers.

CNN's Phil Black reports on that.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After nine days underground, this was the first voice they heard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of you?



BLACK: And it was distinctly British.






BLACK: The two divers who swam and crawled to 90 minutes to find this group huddling in the dark deep underground are not professional rescuers. John Volanthen is an internet engineer from the English city of Bristol, and Richard Stanton works as a firefighter in Coventry.

Both are members of the British Cave Rescue Council. They're volunteers with highly specialized skill sets and decades of experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS JEWELL, MEMBER, BRITISH CAVE RESCUE COUNCIL: Cave divers in general are interested in exploring previously unknown caves. So their expertise that is developed in that exploration can be brought to bear on a rescue scenario such this one.


BLACK: Thai authorities ask this British group to fly in and help the search. And their expertise in navigate the flooded network of tunnels and chambers proved crucial in locating the boys. But after the joy of finding them, Volanthen and Stanton also had to deliver a difficult truth. They would not be getting out quickly or easily.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not today. We are coming. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK. Many people are coming.

JEWELL: I think it's important to hauler the fact but we're not out of the woods yet. This is only the beginning of the actual rescue faces itself. It's extremely challenging to extract the boys.


BLACK: But simply there are no good options. Tunneling deep underground into their small chamber is not easy or safe. Diving them out will become more challenging as the monsoon season continues. Water will rise, visibility will get worse, currents will get stronger. Even for experienced divers, these are terrifying and dangerous conditions.


JEWELL: Actually extracting them underwater through this cave will not be safely. It's an extremely hazardous extraction scenario.


BLACK: The British divers are staying on as consultants. The rescue effort is now a military operation. Thai authorities say they will not rush and will only try to get them out when they're sure it's safe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are very strong.



BLACK: Whatever they do the world is now watching and hoping.

Phil Black, CNN, London.

CHURCH: Incredible. Well, less than two weeks before President Trump is scheduled to meet

with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Senate lawmakers are backing up a U.S. intelligence assessment of Russian involvement in the U.S. election. The Senate intelligence committee says it sees no reason to dispute the conclusion that President Putin sought to boost Mr. Trump's election chance and was trying to discredit rival Hillary Clinton.

So let's take a closer look at all of this with Larry Sabato. He is the director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia. Always great to have you on the show.


CHURCH: So here we have the Senate intelligence committee breaking with their House Republican counterpart and agreeing with the intelligence community that Russia's President Vladimir Putin tried to help Donald Trump win by meddling in the 2016 presidential election. What changed the minds of these Republicans given their own president doesn't the accept the conclusions of that January 2017 assessment made by the intel community?

[03:10:05] SABATO: Rosemary, I don't believe their minds were changed. I think they knew from the beginning as the House Republicans probably did, that the Russians were meddling in major ways in our election and obviously they favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. You don't have to conduct an investigation with secret and classified information to figure that out.

What distinguishes the Republican senators on the intelligence committee from the Republican House members on their counterpart committee in the House is that the Republican senators from the beginning had an open mind about thus. They were willing to listen to the testimony. The evidence is overwhelming from all of the intelligence agencies.

And by the way, Rosemary, a lot of the people in the intelligence agencies are very, very Republican. This is not an ideological hit job from the left. This is something that the intelligence community has believed for a year and a half. Over a year and a half.

CHURCH: So why didn't the House Republicans say so?

SABATO: You know, the House Republicans have a major difference with the Senate Republicans and it was designed by the America's founders. The Republicans in the House, as with the Democrat, they have a two year term. They come up every two years. They're up this year. They're in primaries right now. They have been since March with the general election in November.

Only a third of the senators are on the ballot this year. Two-thirds can afford to stand up to President Trump and side with the intelligence communities because they are on the ballot. And I think it's important to remember the political electable connection here. CHURCH: So politics is at the core, surprise, surprise. All right. So

how do you think this will all play out with the July 16th Trump-Putin summit meeting in Helsinki?

SABATO: It's going to be fascinating to see the extent to which, Trump even raises this issue. Some of his aides have been suggesting he will raise it, but will he do so in the sessions that are least semi-public when there are witnesses? They're saying they Trump and Putin will have a considerable amount of time by themselves. Only the translators will be there.

And as you know their forbidden from speaking probably ever in the Soviet -- Russia. So they can't really tell anything. Only the principals can tell you anything. So it's whatever Trump and Putin says or discuss that's the official record for the summit.

Now will Trump discuss election meddling? I think he'll bring it up incidentally. I would be shock if he press the case for it. There will be a glancing blow if that and he'll sell it, he'll spin it as far as he can but it isn't going to make the slightest difference.

Now it's true. Putin may not be as inclined to push Russian interference in the midterm election as he was in the presidential election. Why would he bother particularly? His next objective is the 2020 presidential candidate -- candidacy and campaign when I will bet he will do anything possible to help Donald Trump again.

CHURCH: Right. And I do want to just switch gears to immigration and the call from the Democrats to abolish ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

President Trump rejected that call and here's what he had to say to say about it, we'll bring that up.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But when these people come into our country and come in illegally and then they dispersed throughout the country and all of a sudden you see nests of MS-13. You know, it's like you're liberating towns, ICE goes in there and they go in there and sometimes they have to go in swinging. They don't mind. They're tough.

And then I hear Democrats saying we want to abandon ICE. We want to abandon. We're not abandoning ICE and we're not abandoning our law enforcement. Just the opposite.


CHURCH: So Larry, by calling for the abolition of ICE, are the Democrats simply playing right into the narrative of Donald Trump and running the risk of looking like they are against border controls and law enforcement?

SABATO: Precisely, Rosemary. You encapsulated the mistake the Democrats are making. Now look, everyone knows there's a problem with what's going on at the border, and I mean, ICE's actions are not just with respect to the migrants entering the United States illegally. That is a separate problem.

And President Trump as always exaggerates. So he exaggerated enormously about liberating towns. So that's utterly absurd. But here's the problem for the Democrats.

[03:14:59] They are uttering a slogan, abolish ICE. That is really the equivalent of the alt-right wing Republican slogan abolish the Internal Revenue Service, abolish the IRS.

Countries have to levy taxes, and countries have to navigate and regulate their borders. They aren't nations if they don't. It would have been so easy for Democrats to say reform ICE, not abolish. But as usual the people at one end of the spectrum, in this case, the left is of the spectrum are dictating policy. The tail is wagging the dog and the Democratic leadership had to do something about this fast.

CHURCH: Yes. We shall see of course the outcome when the midterm elections occur in November and see what happens there. And Larry Sabato, always good to have you with us. Thank you so much.

SABATO: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, days before he heads to a NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump is pushing NATO allies to meet their defense spending promises. He sent critical letters to Germany, Canada, Norway, and other NATO members laying out the demand and he warns if they don't, the U.S. may shift its military presence in Europe.

More now from CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump sending scathing letters to America's closest allies, demanding they increase military spending to at least 2 percent of their economy the NATO standard. Trump has been relentless that U.S. allies are not pulling their way at NATO.


TRUMP: If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion.


STARR: Mr. Trump's letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel had an specially frosty warning. "It will however become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries do not share NATO's collective security burden while American soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives overseas or come home gravely wounded."

A senior German official points out that in Afghanistan Germany is the second largest contributor of foreign troops. To Norway a not so subtle reminder of Norway's risk since it remains the only NATO ally sharing a border with Russia that doesn't have a plan to meet the NATO spending target. NATO spending may be one area where there is agreement with former President Obama.


BARACK OBAMA (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody's got to step up and everybody's got to do better.


STARR: NATO spending estimate show the U.S. is well above the 2 percent spending standard at more than 3.5 percent of the U.S. economy going to defense. The U.K. is just over 2 percent, while Norway, Canada, and Germany are all under. But Trump could go too far in criticizing NATO at the upcoming summit just before he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: If he wants to scuttle the western alliance and there's a lot of supposition that he does want to do that, then of course that could very well play into the hands of the Russians.


STARR: The president also making additional national security claims tweeting, "Just out that the Obama administration granted citizenship during the terrible Iran deal negotiation to 2500 Iranians including to government officials." It's a claim by an Iranian cleric that a former Obama national security official is pushing back on saying the allegation is false and based on a Fox News report.

Mr. Trump also tweeting on what he sees as success with North Korea. "If not for me we would now be at war with North Korea." Even though the Pentagon says there is no evidence Kim Jong-un is giving up his weapons.

President Trump of course expected in Brussels next week at the head of state summit of NATO where relations with the allies and Vladimir Putin are expected to be front and center.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

CHURCH: The quarter finals are set at the World Cup in Russia. We will show you the dramatic shootout goal that sent England through and see who they face next after this short break.


CHURCH: The celebration is on for England as they advance to the World Cup quarter finals with a dramatic shootout win over Columbia. We're now down with the final 18 in Russia with the next two matches set for Friday.

And CN world sport anchor, Patrick Snell is still smiling. He is here very happy about your team.



CHURCH: You keep saying that and then you do.

SNELL: I promise.

CHURCH: So how did all play out?

SNELL: Dramatic. You know, the word penalty in England over the years doesn't always go too well together. But it was a first. First time ever they've been successful in a penalty shootout at a World Cup and the relief on the players. We got some great video. We're going to show you exactly what I mean.

But I'll tell you what this game had it all. And that's a penalty actually from Harry Kane in normal time. That put the English one-nil after sixth goal of the World Cup already. Would you believe it? But at the stoppage time deep into it a twist.

Columbia's Yerry Mina powerful header. James Rodriguez was injured that he like what he saw there. And then we went to the penalty shootout. Carlos Bacca was denied, a great save from Jordan Pickford for the England keeper and then the moment England fans saw they probably thought they'd never see. It's Eric Dier the Tottenham player. Just look at those English bears. Dier wins it 4-3 for England on penalties.

It could mean a lot to them. I think it means a lot for the national team, I'll say and it's great of Harry Kane the captain. We're going to see a shot on his face as well that really says it all. The 24- year-old captain of England has led them to the quarter finals. That's one side of the coin.

Here's the other. The fans in motion of Columbia. Let's got their capital city of Bogota. Now clever (Inaudible) have got the action in the corner there. And that's the joy at leveling when Yerry Mina gets that level in stoppage time. And then this is the other side of it. The heartbreak.

Look at the young man there absolutely can't resist the tears there at seeing his country the realization there in Bogota that they're out of the tournament that they've lost. You can see him sobbing there. You can see the emotion, the heartbreak.

You know, World Cup football fans are living and breathing this every kick, every heartfelt emotion. It's actually -- it's actually tough seeing that, you know.


CHURCH: It is really is.

SNELL: And I'm an England fan.

CHURCH: And you watch the winners and the losers and it stop. And of course, now England go up Sweden but Sweden beat Switzerland. So how did that will play?

SNELL: Yes. Absolutely. One goal decides it. They say you make your own luck in the tournament, but you know, the Swedes will not care one little bit. It was always going to take some special (Ph) to break this one because both chance, both teams have missed chances in this game. And you thought are we ever going to get a winner. We did eventually.

[03:24:54] The aftershock coming in from RB Leipzig player Emil Forsberg and you can see he gets a big deflection there. It goes right past the keeper and that is in to the back of the net. And there was just no coming back after that for the Swiss national team.

Sweden's fan absolutely ecstatic with result. And this is significant for them because they are through to the quarter finals to the World Cup for the first time since 1994 when the tournament was staged in the USA. It's Sweden against England next on Saturday. Those two, both of those countries I feel -- they will both be feeling that they are capable of beating each other.

CHURCH: And you would never have thought it would be down to this final eight, would you? Now we got a couple of days rest, and then we got two games on Friday, two on Saturday. Let's watch it. We all be looking out for.

SNELL: yes. Let's look ahead to what's on the slate on Friday. Two games. I want to just get kind of an eye on those games. There we go. We've got Uruguay taking on France. Uruguay are a two-time world champion. France are the 1998 world champions.

They met six times in the World Cup. The South Americans have won twice, the other four games were actually drawn. And then we've got other action coming up as well. We got Brazil against Belgium. Brazil are looking to win this tournament for a sixth time and what Belgian would give to go on and win it. This is the so-called golden generation of Belgian players, we'll see if they get the job done. And then of course I mention what we're seeing on Saturday about England and Sweden and Russia against Croatia as well.

CHURCH: Wow. OK. Well, let's look forward to it, It's been great having you in the studio.


SNELL: Yes. Let's do it.

CHURCH: Now of course we go quite for a couple of days.


SNELL: Two days of no FIFA World Cup football.

CHURCH: What are we going to see?

SNELL: Roll on Friday.

CHURCH: All right. Thanks so much, Patrick Snell. Always a pleasure. Great.

And one of the more unusual stars of the World Cup. Japan's oracle octopus is now an hors d'oeuvre, I'm afraid. This is Rabio, a giant pacific octopus that correctly predicted Japan would win against Columbia, draw with Senegal and lose to Poland in the World Cup. Rabio swam to baskets of food representing a win, lose or draw. It became a national sensation.

But the fisherman who caught Rabio felt he'd make more money selling it for food than from its clever win. So the octopus has now been sold for sashimi. Dear. Not a great reward for all his work.

Thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. The challenge Everest is up next but I'll be back for a quick check of the headlines. You're watching CNN.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Hello again, I am Rosemary Church, this is CNN News Now. The youth football team trapped in a cave in Thailand now have blankets, food and fresh water. New video shows the boys each saying his name and one thanking everyone for their support. Authorities are trying to figure out the best way to get them out of that flooded cave.

British police are investigating what they call a major incident involving a couple who may have been exposed to an unknown substance. It happens Saturday in Amesbury not far from Saulsberry where a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a suspected nerve agent in March. The couple in this latest incident are in critical condition.

At least 29 people have died after a ferry capsized and sank in Indonesia. You can see people desperately clinging to the sides of the ship. At least 69 have been rescued, 41 others are missing. State media report that a leak from the ship likely caused it to sink.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Rasak has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges, he was arrested Tuesday and is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the state investment fund he created. The allegations were a major factor in Najib's election defeat in May after he had led Malaysia for nearly a decade and that is your CNN news now. "The challenge, Everest" is up next. You are watching CNN, the world news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everest. 8,848 meters. It is the tallest mountain on earth. It wasn't until 1953 that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay they became the first climbers known to have reached its summit. 65 years on, the mountain maintains its mystique. Everest is a place of heroism, determination, disaster, even death. Climbers endure weeks of suffering in pursuit of their dream. Despite a recent reputation for litter, the route to the roof that world remains one of humanity's greatest challenges. More than 4,500 people have followed Hillary and Norgay in standing on that snow peak. But success comes at a cost. Almost 300 climbers never returned home. Each Everest journey is a (inaudible) with danger and discomfort. The fear and exhaustion to its traveling companions. The British adventurer Ben Fogle, has road across the Atlantic and race on foot across Antarctica to South Pole.

Track cyclist Vitoria Pendleton has won nine world titles and two Olympic gold medalist. Neither it's a stranger to the challenge, but Everest was a challenge that would change their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I would like do is inspire other people to take on their own Everest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These book is a story of all the different things that I and we have all done. I think sky diving. Where's the family portrait. And who can see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy. Daddy. That does not look like you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The expedition came about in kind of rather in an unexpected way. I've done a few big trip over the years, road across the Atlantic and been to the South Pole. And then when we had our first child, my son, Ludo, eight years ago, I kind of drew a line under the big expeditions, but there's been a burning passion to take on a big challenge and Everest has always been my ultimate dream goal.

And then tragically about four years ago, we had a still birth and our little son William was born eight months just a couple of weeks before he was due to be born naturally and it shook both my wife and I kind of to the core and just made us, we evaluate everything and appreciate everything and we wanted to bring huge joy and happiness in our family life, but we also wanted to pursue all our dreams.

[03:35:04] Because it was a reminder that a, everything could end tomorrow and b, we want to inspire. And I kind of want to live my life to the full for this little boy who never really got to experience life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since retiring from career as one of the world's most successful track cyclists, Victoria has swap saddles and taken on a different sport. Ben and Victoria became friends following a chance encounter two years ago. And I shared appetite for new challenges set them on a path to Everest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like things that there adrenalin fueled and fast and kind of, you know, in the moment. I've always been somebody that didn't want to necessarily be restricted by what other people thought I was capable of. And I think that there had been at times, you know, you are too small to do this, you are not this, you are not smart enough, you're not that. The idea of really pursuing your dreams and doing what you want in your heart and saying you know what, I decide whether this is going to happen for me or not, not somebody else or convention or anything like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben and Victoria will use the expedition to support a charity working with victims in 2015 earthquake in Nepal, which killed 9,000 people and triggered an avalanche at Everest which added to the death toll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Victoria and I spent three days with the British Red Cross. We went to a medical facility that is building prosthetics for children and adults who lost limbs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We watched some wheelchair basketball. It was very nice to see that a sporting event like that. The kids there as well, especially, because it kind of sets a tone for that, you know, of this doesn't have to stop you from doing anything you want to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We visited blood banks where they are actually physically storing blood in the event of another natural disaster. There are still whole communities yet to rebuild themselves, both physically with their structures, but also their livelihoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a very strong woman. Very strong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think my wife realizes that at 44, a father of two, he has already taken on some challenges, although I will be bitterly disappointed and it will hurt a lot if I don't reach the summit. I also want to come back here and be with my children. So, I think she -- I think she trust me, but I know she is nervous about that. We meet at the summit traditionally people take flags. What should I take to remind me of all of you? Is there a little toy or something that you both have that might be able to take with me? Let us see, here is the deal guys, I am taking up her squeaky carat that is actually a dog toy, but that is going to put a big smile on my face. I can tell you that. And that is really precious to be taking panda, because this is your -- you've had this since you were a baby. You have this for eight whole years, better not lose it. So I'm going to pose hopefully on the summit of Mount of Everest, at -- what height?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meters. Very good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But to have any hope at all of reaching such heights, Ben and Victoria will have to undergo a painful period of test and training.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before an Everest summit attempt, it is important that climbers test their body and gain experience among some of the world's highest mountains. Ben and Victoria have spent weeks training at high altitude in Bolivia and the French Alps. Today they've come to be tested in an elite (inaudible) sports clinic in London.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. Nice to meet you. So who's going first?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're here to compare their ability to cope with strenuous exercise at sea level with that mountain conditions simulated by an altitude chamber.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So about 4,000.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're just going to feel short breaths. So you're going to feel like your breathing, but you're not going to be able to get the amount of oxygen your muscles require.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last push, a few seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a lot harder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As an Olympic gold medalist, Victoria is no stranger to pushing her limits on a bike, doing so with altitudes however is less familiar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just keep your breathing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The level of oxygen in Victoria's blood drops dangerous from 100 percent to below 70 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which is exactly what happens when you are there. Your rate went down, really low, but it is amazing that you recover there so quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's only up to 90.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supervising the exercises is Dr. Sandy Dillan (ph), now a leading authority on the effect of altitude on oxygen levels in the blood, he is a celebrated mountaineer himself, once the youngest person to climb all seven summits. The highest mountain on each continent. Dr. Dillon, joined other medics in the extreme Everest research expedition, to investigate the effect of altitudes of blood oxygen on route to the summit. He conducted test clinging to the mountains in subzero temperatures and what was the highest clinic HANKS: world has ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We effectively had to drop our (inaudible), stick needles in each other's groins and get us here blood, and we ended up with some of the lowest, well the lowest figures recorded in healthy humans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The test it results could have an important impact on how well, ben and Victoria will cope in high altitude during the expedition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People tends to be long distance altitudes athletes fair better in general high altitudes than people who tend to be sprinters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is just a few days until the pair set off in Nepal, their intentions turns to the Team dynamic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I very much feel like this is a team thing and if any instant like anything thing happens where for example, Ben is unable to summit and I had the choice to go alone, I'm not knowing to go. It's Ben's dream.

[03:45:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I can tell you now, I will tell you know here, you heard it, you heard it, I would want you to carry on, and I really would.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like a plan. I feel comfortable with a plan. I feel uncomfortable with unknown. And that is for me one of the biggest challenges and the things I fear I will manage least well if that makes sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love the unknown. I don't really like the known. It's the dream team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Completing the dream team is their mountain guide, Kenton Cole (ph), a remarkable climber, who's summited Everest 12 times. More than any European, this will be his 13th, but he is feeling lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ben and I talked about coming here together for a number of years now and it's fantastic to be part of somebody else's ambition and dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's hard work. Facing death over the associated dangers. You've got to show carefully, you are going to show her an awful lot of respect. I think she is a beautiful mountain and standing on top of the world is a fantastic feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hoping to soon experience that feeling for themselves, Ben and Victoria pack their kit for the long months in the high Himalayas and head out to Nepal as the start of their challenge and the journey of a lifetime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her expeditions tackling Everest from the south the journey begins with a short flight from Nepal's capital Kathmandu to Lukla. Often described as the world's most terrifying airport. The runway clings to the side of the Himalayan Mountain demanding skill and confidence from the pilot landing a small plane. The six day trek to Lukla to Everest basecamp cannot be rushed. Mountaineers must to climatized slowly as their bodies adapts to the ever increasing altitude and thin air in the valley. But they are rewarded with a constant series of stunning views. Including the first glimpse from the ground of Everest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks so far away from here, doesn't it? How are we ever going to get up there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is actually the first time I have ever seen her. Seen so many photos over the year. First time I actually put my eyes on her. It's difficult even to kind of put into words, I have the feeling that is our goal we spent two years or so working towards and this is only the beginning, really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a deeply spiritual region, but its symbols, temples, prayer flags and prayer wheels had adorn the trails of basecamp. The wheels are turned clockwise to send prayers to the mountain gods and ensure good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are on our way to a monastery now. Pretty much most climbers who got Everest have some form of blessing so we're heading for our own little blessing up in the hills.

[03:50:20] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben, Victoria and their mountain guide Kenton receive a Puja, a blessing to (inaudible) and his monastery before they summit attempt to ask the gods for safe passage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very lucky to be able to get that blessing. For me I think it's really unique to have kind of a spiritual experience like that. It was -- I felt a bit emotional at times, I have to say. Having a ceremony like this would give us some strength when it gets harder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was amazing (inaudible) the moving. Very special in a way to describe that. I think for me there's so much tied up in that one ceremony, all kind of my hopes, my aspirations, my fear, the dangers, the sacrifices I've made. Just amazing. I'll think back to that a lot when I'm on the mountain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the hike continues and the air gets thinner, there's a constant change from searing sun to biting cold. So layers are applied and remove, but a shifting delay means Ben has spent the entire trek in a single pair of clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We about to head up into the cloud now. That is when it gets really cold. So I'm just down to my holiday shirt, but believe me up there I'll have just about everything I got in my bag on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there's one place that always brings a chill to the bones of mountain guide Kenton Cole, a veteran of 12 Everest summits. It's a powerful reminder of the dangers that lie ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me at least this is a really important part. This is where the climbers wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was certainly now my kind, but (inaudible) for me is that, (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally at 8,000 meters on their break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got one of the best climbers (inaudible), and I find it. Very, very emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually listening to Kenton talk about his friends who he is known and knowing all those memorial flags here that represent somebody who lost their life in this area is sad. Humbling, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get there safely.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben and Victoria were complete strangers when they first met two years ago. With just 24 hours before reaching Everest basecamp they are still learning about each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do have a tendency sometimes, Victor, like you disappear into yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can be a bit negative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The problem is it's really hard. I'm always -- I've been extremely hard on myself and my performance. Because I always want to be better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even when you got a gold medal?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if I won a gold medal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could you have done better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look at that performance and wish I could have done better?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? You got the gold medal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, but I could have done it with both finesse, more convincing way. There's been so many occasions. And I think that, the hardness on myself is what has allowed me to achieve what I have achieved. I'm sorry if I come across a bit negative at times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, you haven't so far on this one, but I know you can.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as a team, having worked with teams in hostile tough places it can suck energy. So, again, I probably will -- we have to know how to deal with it.

[03:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Concerns duly aired the pair continue on the final stretch of the trail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we're now about two hours away from Everest basecamp. It's rather surreal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is real. We've come to the iconic sign here to get a quick picture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we can just glimpse, just dipping over the other mountain there, just below the moon, the summit of Everest. It's pretty cool.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everest basecamp offers not only rest at the end of a grueling six day trek, but a chance for Ben to be reunited with his missing expedition kit which has been flown in with supplies by helicopter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ben, you're minutes away from being out of your holiday wardrobe. How does it feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I can't wait to have my Everest kit. So this has been borrowed from the cameraman. I got the same shirts I've been wearing for about two weeks now. I left my family wearing this. These are my holiday shorts. Luckily I had my holiday boots. That is it. The worst thing, I'll admit to you now, I've been wearing the same pants. I'm embarrassed.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There it is. I'm really -- I'm really excited to get to basecamp. I mean, my analogy is it's like a ski slope and we got through the nursery slope which was the trek here. We're leaving nursery and we're joining the big school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next time, Ben and Victoria take their first steps on to the famous mountain. But altitude takes its toll and the team has to make a tough decision. Carry on or abandon their dream to stand on the roof of the world.