The summit

The summit

Come for the scenery, stay for the gameplay in Nine’s newest reality series The summit.

On second thought, you still stick for the scenery. New Zealand looks magnificent untouched in this new money-hungry pursuit.

There is a million dollars divided into the backpacks of 14 Australians who are given 14 days to hike 200km up the icy heights of an 8500 foot (2590 meter) mountain. Almost everything is uphill and as menacing host Jai Courtney warns, “Sounds like fun? It won’t be.

In this newly developed contest the rules dictate that this team must stick together, meaning they are only as fast as their weakest link. It’s also in the group’s interest to help them make it to the top, after all they’re bringing in some winnings. But if anyone quits, their $70k backpack is gone too.

The group consists of alpha males and female athletes, as well as individuals with zero climbing experience.

“I hate heights,” says Indigenous musician Isaac. Now tell us?

In contrast, passionate entrepreneur Jans loves a challenge but reveals: “I’m extremely competitive…. you can trust me until you can.

There’s a mom of three, a dude who runs his own hosiery line, and more.

Jai says of the motley crew, “you” are a “motley crew”.

Threatening them during their climb will be “the keeper of the mountain”, a black helicopter that zips in and out like a black panther and occasionally drops supplies or new instructions.

On the first excursion, 60-year-old nurse Kitty is struggling, prompting a debate about whether to shed “dead weight” by cleverly allowing a Lord of the Flies mentality to go crazy in this Lord of the Rings backdrop.

“There is no judgment here. If you don’t believe it you can get to the top. Make a phone call,” one says.

There will be gorges to cross on rickety bridges, rope ladders and rung-up challenges The incredible ride looks like a boot camp. This is punitive stuff. Host Jai, a man of few words but with a lot of cynicism, will reappear for the group’s occasional respite and unveil new twists.

While Alone is filmed by the participants, it is clear that this group is surrounded by some sort of minimal crew and security experts (wouldn’t want to see any insurance bills). Who in their right mind tries to take ordinary people to the top of the snowy mountain? Reality TV, that’s who.

Sure is a derivative of Bear Grylls, SurvivedOR The bridge up a mountain, but the first few seasons of new formats are rarely that strong. You get magical sceneries, brave characters, dastardly dangers and a brusque and defiant host. Thank God for drones.

Just one problem. The episodes are frustratingly long, like an endurance test in itself. Blame a network that wants to top a mountain of ratings?

The Summit screens Sundays at 7pm, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on Nine.