Elia Saikaly is an award-winning adventure filmmaker based in Ottawa, Canada. He has participated in over 25 world-class expeditions, always with a camera in hand, including ten to Mt. Everest. He is the only Canadian to summit the world’s tallest mountain five times. In 2021, he reached the summit of K2, the 2nd tallest mountain on Earth.

Elia is a multi-disciplined athlete, artist and entrepreneur. As a teen-ager, Elia broke the deadlift world-record in his age/weight bracket by hoisting 525 lbs. His powerlifting background, disciplined mindset, combined with his cold-water immersion training utilizing modified Qi-Gong techniques have enabled him to thrive in 8000m environments.

As a storyteller and mountaineer, Elia survived and documented the 2014, 2015 and 2019 disasters on the world’s tallest peak. His Everest imagery is regularly licensed by networks including National Geographic, Discovery, ESPN, Netflix, BBC and many more. In 2016, he co-starred with his climbing partner and friend Pasang Kaji Sherpa in Discovery Channel’s: Unclimbed – Reaching the Summit.

Through Elia’s television broadcast work as a director of photography, he has collaborated with numerous celebrity athletes including NBA champion Serge Ibaka, MLB hall of fame recipient Vladimir Guerrero, MLB star Edwin Encarnacion and many more. He won a Canadian Screen Award for his work with Rogers Sportsnet featuring former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez on a documentary entitled: Limitless. He also co-earned a CINE Golden Eagle Award for ‘On the Top’, a television series he filmed on Mt. Everest.

Elia invests his time working with NGO’s and causes close to his heart. Through his storytelling and camera, he has supported Indigenous people in Canada, the Peuls people of the Sahara in Niger, Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, persons with albinism in Africa, the Dinka and Nuer in South Sudan and beyond. For a decade, he ran his FindingLife educational program that connected tens of thousands of students to interactive real-time learning adventures. He also sits on the board of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada that supports the Sherpa people of Nepal.

As an inspirational speaker, Elia has spoken to dozens of corporations and organizations including high schools and Universities. His message has reached over 100 000 students. Whether inspiring online, through his production work, on stage as an inspirational speaker or through his expeditions, Elia’s core mission is to elevate, inspire and help make the world a better place.

Everest – Special Operation

Phase 1 of an exciting in-development new production was successfully implemented on Mt. Everest during the 2023 season. I managed to fly my drone from 8700m above sea level and capture 8K content along the way.

Return to K2 Basecamp

I returned to K2 basecamp with John Snorri's family. We were supported by many in Pakistan, including  the Pakistan Army and the Fearless 5 high altitude pilots.

Everest Summit #5

On assignment to the top of the world - once again.  

K2 – Mission Accomplished

Everything we set out to achieve on K2, we achieved and more. Our missing friends were found, Sajid Sadpara buried his father at 8000m and the film in memory of our friends is one step closer to being completed.

Top of the world – Summit #4

High Altitude camera operator on Everest Dark, a feature length documentary featuring Mingma Tsiri Sherpa and his brother Pasang Tenzing. Airing on the CBC in 2024.

Winter K2 with John Snorri, Ali and Sajid Sadpara

I was there to document their historic ascent of K2 in Winter. No one expected they would never return from the summit. Documentary in production.

Ama Dablam post Covid-19

We set off to reach the summit of Ama Dablam once again, this time with our friend Mohammed AlThani from Qatar. A Covid-19 expedition to Nepal.

Summit of Ama Dablam

On November 12th, 2019, I reached the summit of Ama Dablam, the jewel of the SoluKhumbu region in Nepal and one of the most beautiful mountains on Earth.

Top of the World – Summit #3

On May 23rd, 2019, I stood on top of the world for the 3rd time and documented it every step of the way.  'The Dream of Everest' production was a success.

Dream of Everest – Success!

After a year of planning and failed fundraising attempts, I decided to risk it all and pulled the production, together including the financing, in less than 5 days. We reached the summit on May 23rd, 2019 and completed principal photography on the feature length documentary.

VanLife Europe

The wild and crazy plan to drive my 1975 Pistachio Green van from Ottawa, Canada to a land far far away. Europe is but the beginning. Currently parked by the sea in Turkey after traveling through 12 countries. The adventure continues, June 2019.

Team Albinism on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro

I poured my heart and soul into this project. I witnessed injustice and crimes committed against persons with albinism and needed to do something about it. This campaign is that promise. Feature documentary to be released in 2020.

2018 – Mt Kenya – Climb for Albinism

The Climb for Albinism preparation climb to Mt. Kenya was a success! This project has been my has been a labour of love for the last two years and is finally coming to fruition. These incredible women are going to change the world.

2018 – UAE – Dreams Becoming

Two months on road in the UAE and surrounding regions. I’ve been working on developing a very special project that I believe is going to make a significant impact on this part of the world.

2018 – Gemini winner

I won my first Gemini Award at the Canadian Screen Awards! Best Documentary for Aaron Sanchez ; Limitless.

2018 – January – Persons with Albinsim

Winston Churchill said:  "We occasionally stumble across the truth, but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."  I happened to have stumbled across the truth in this instance and I’m doing something about it. I’m off to Africa to meet the women who are entrusting me to climb Kilimanjaro this fall.

2017 – Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

I had the honour of working with Syrian refugees in my home country of Lebanon, in partnership with Generations for Peace and the Intiraymi Fund.

2017 – The Dalai Lama

It was a tremendous honour and lifetime/career highlight to work with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his temple in Dharamsala.

2017 – Vanlife

I fell in love, bought a 1975 Vintage Van and hit the road with my gypsy co-pilot and had the most outstanding summer of my life!

2017 – Journey to Leh

They say four wheels moves the body and two wheels move the soul. I explored the extraordinary landscapes of Leh, Ladakh. A land that time forgot, forged only in dreams.

2017 – Everest Basecamp

It’s back to Everest basecamp for me, a little assignment in the Himalayas and an opportunity to reignite the soul.

2017 – FindingLife Reborn

The new FindingLife platform is deep in development. Looking forward to sharing the results with the world! It’s been my life’s work since I was 26 and now it’s all coming

2016 – Hillary and Tenzing Peaks

The expedition begins! Our goal is climb two Unclimbed peaks in Nepal named after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

2016 – World Premiere – Unclimbed – Reaching the Summit

The story of my life is featured in a series that I helped create with the team at Bell Media called 'Unclimbed - Reaching the Summit', sponsored by Jeep. The 8-part digital series can been seen here.

2016 – Unclimbed – A Discovery Channel Series

Production begins on “Unclimbed - Reaching the Summit” with Discovery Canada.

Adrenaline Philanthropy

I traveled through Jordan with my David McGrain in support of his work with the IntiRaymi Fund in collaboration with my friends from Generations for Peace who are working with Syrian Refugees in host communities in Jordan.

2016 – Africa and the IRF

I set out on a humanitarian mission once again with my friend David McGrain from the Intiraymi Fund. We were on a mission that took us from South Sudan, to Uganda, to Kenya and finally to Tanzania.

2015 – Jordan and the Intiraymi Fund

A expedition to Jordan to support the work of Generation for Peace with Syrian and Palestinian refugees and my friend David McGrain from the Intiraymi Fund.

2015 – Rebuilding Nepal

I returned to Nepal in search of a school rebuilding project. The country was devastated by the loss of over 8000 people, countrywide. I needed to do something to do my part to help. The students from Vincent Massey Public School raised over 10K in a single night to support the people from the village of Banakhu.

2015 – Tragedy on Everest

It’s been impossible to navigate to navigate this situation. I’ve been doing my best to feed the world media images from Everest while navigating this very sensitive and delicate terrain. My friend Dan Fredinburg was amongst the fallen. It’s been devastating. Dan, this tribute is dedicated to you my friend.  

2015 – Nepal Earthquake

Tragedy strikes on Everest! An Earthquake unleashes a deadly avalanche at Mt. Everest basecamp. I 22 people lost their lives and 52 were critically injured. I was lucky to survive.

2015 – Return to Everest

It’s been less than a year since I broke my back and I’m back! I received the green light from my medical team and I’m off to climb Everest with Under Armour! My responsibility is to document the journey every step of the way and create all of the social and documentary content. They told me I’d never climb again… I responded: watch me!

2014 – Hopeless with a Broken Back

They told me I’d never climb again. They told me my career was over. They told me I was done. Three months after the accident, confined to a body brace, I boldly accepted a contract from Under Armour to 6 of the world’s 8000m peaks in a single year. I had less than a year to recover an get ready. #IWILL

2014 – Broken Back

I nearly died while paragliding in Pokhara. I broke my L2 in 2 pieces, lacerated my liver, broken my foot and was momentarily paralyzed, alone in Nepal.

2014 – Avalanche on Everest

On April 19th, 2014, I survived the Everest avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas. I was supposed to be filming in the icefall that day and decided to climb one day early. Tragedy has truck and it’s a devastating loss to the community.

2014 – Google Maps Nepal

It was a tremendous honour to collaborate with Google Maps and work as the head of production and Director of Photography in the field in Nepal.

Gemini Award Nominee: Whale Cove, Nunavut

In 2014, I traveled to the beautiful community of Whale Cove in Nunavut and worked with a very special group of Inuit youth. We were nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for the 30 minute special that aired on Rogers Sportsnet.

Amman Camp – Generations for Peace

My friends at Generations for Peace invited me to Jordan and asked me to create a 5-minute short film on their Peace Building work in the region. Youth from across the MENA region were in attendance along with His Royal Highness, Prince Faisal.

2013 – My Tedx Talk

I gave my first Tedx talk in Ashburn Virginia  called: FindingLife on Mt. Everest

2013 – Everest – A Time Lapse Film I

I earned my first Vimeo Staff Pick for 'Everest - A Time Lapse Film I'. The time-lapse film went viral and was shared in media outlets around the world and amassed over 1 million views.  

2013 – 2nd Everest Summit

My 2nd Everest Expedition which garnered me a CINE Golden Eagle Award for best outstanding documentary Series. FindingLife also partners with ePals.com, the once largest K-12 social network for kids.

2013 – Aconcagua

Back on Aconcagua for the 2nd time, once again with the team of Arabs from the GCC region. We summited in less than ideal conditions and I reached the summit for the 2nd time.

2012 – Mt Elbrus

Another summit of Europe’s highest peak. As always, camera in hand, but this time with Arabs from the GCC region including Mohammed Althani and Raha Moharrak

2012 – Denali Centennial Climb

Meet the team from the Denali Centennial Climb. I invested 4 years of my life into creating this expedition with the descendants of the team who were the first to summit the mountain in 1913. The team eventually made it to the summit in 2013 and commemorated the heroes from 1913, most importantly Walter Harper who was the first man in history to stand on the roof of North America.

2011 – Mt. Cho Oyu

We set our sights on the 6th highest mountain on Earth - Mt.Cho Oyu and called it “Our Cho Oyu Challenge - What’s Yours?”. Once again, the goal was to share the journey with students in real-time on the FindingLife platform. After the evacuation and rescue of my friend, Khiery, Dawa Tenzing and I returned to the mountain and reached the summit of the 6th highest mountain on Earth.

2011 – Peru

I was called to explore the jungle, the Sacred Valley and high mountains of Peru. The beginning of a life long relationship with this beautiful country.

2011 – Garnier FindingLife Expedition to Africa

One of the most important and meaningful projects of my career was the Garnier FindingLife expedition to Africa. We paired up 6 students from Canada with 6 students from Kenya, climbed Mt. Kenya, build schools in Solio, empowered a community, changed lives and shared the journey with thousands of student online via FindingLife.

2011 – Our Part of the World

For two years, I had the honour of being the adventurer featured in a bilingual television series called “Our Part of the World”. I visited the 15 Canadian UNESCO world heritage sites and learned about the history and culture of each of this historical locations.

2010 – Kilimanjaro

In the summer of 2010, I embarked on an adventure to Mt. Kilimanjaro with my close friend Khiery Samakkieh from Climb for Lebanon.

2010 – Return to Everest

In the spring of 2010, I returned to Everest and launched FindingLife and brought 20 000 kids along with me, virtually. We shared the journey in real-time, shot, cut and delivered a 12-part webisodic series to our student community. The 5 year journey came to close and Sean Egan’s spirit made it to the top of the world.

2010 – seVen

seVen - The dream to unite Arabs from several nations across the Middle East and North Africa region. We shot the pilot on Mt. Toubkal in Morocco, but unfortunately were not able to fund the project. We were ahead of our time with this idea, which eventually took shape in various other forms.

2009 – North Side of Everest

I decided to support my friend Gabriel Filippi on his quest to carry a signed Montreal Canadians flag to the top of the world. In the end, we didn’t make it because of the weather, but we managed to live out an epic adventure were the last three men standing on Everest that season

2009 – FindingLife Expeditions in the classroom

What was far more important than summiting Aconcagua, was pioneering and testing ideas while building relationships with teachers who believed in my ideas of connecting students to adventures around the world. Here’s a glimpse into one school’s experience of sharing in the FindingLife pilot project.

2009 – Aconcagua

I teamed up with my friend Dr. Norm O’Reilly from Laurentian University and embarked on an expedition to Mt. Aconcagua. We climbed as a team man team, piloted concepts for FindingLife while Norm was conducting research for an ethnography project where I was the subject as was the journey of FindingLife.

2008 – FindingLife Movie

The FindingLife movie officially premiers in Ottawa, Canada. We sold out the venue and it was an incredible evening in honour of Dr. Sean Egan. We won two awards for film: The Public Choice Award and the Heart of the Jury prize from the Montreal International Adventure Film Festival.

2008 – Mt Elbrus

My friend Omar Samra and I set our sights on Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. During transit, war erupted between Georgia and Russia setting an unusual tone for this incredible adventure. In the end two Egyptians and I reached the summit. This expedition was the beginning of my parallel journey in reconnecting with my Arab origins and using the platform of mountains to inspire change.

2008 – The Well

Meanwhile, I began speaking to students in schools in the Ottawa area. Over the course of a year I shared the journey with tens of thousands of students in over 75 schools. Together, in honour of Sean, we raised the money to build a well in Kathmandu for the children from ChildHaven.

2008 – Denali

After putting myself back together after the failure on Everest, I began to climb out of the mess that I was after giving everything up to chase the dream of honuoring Sean’s life. I began with the highest point in North America and landed solo on the summit.

2007 – Defeated by Everest

After two months on Everest, I failed to reach the summit.. We came within 500ft of the top of the world and had to turn around because of the weather. I was destroyed and heartbroken and beaten up by Everest.

2007 – First attempt on Everest

My first attempt on Everest after taking a massive risk with pretty much everything. I sold my car, my condo, cashed in my life’s savings, borrowed $38K from my best friends and embarked on a journey that would forever change my life. This video produced by my friend Joel Haslam really captures the spirit of the journey.

2006 – Sean’s Chorten

The heart of my journey was about honouring the life of my friend Dr. Sean Egan. Little did I know, something far greater was taking shape…

2006 – My first mountain climb was Everest

My goal was to climb to camp 2 on Mt. Everest, retrace Sean's footsteps as a first time climber, film the experience and build Sean a Chorten to honour his life.

2006 – Africa

My first trip to Africa in search of answers. I lived this incredible journey with one of my childhood friends and his mother Louise. My journey to the Sahara not only made me fall in love with Africa, but planted some very important seeds that would one day evolve into a profound love and commitment to the continent and her people.

2005 – My first trip to Nepal

Never having traveled before, I embarked on a mission to the base of Mt. Everest to document the climb of my friend Dr. Sean Egan. He tragically died during the expedition triggering a chain of life changing events that would dramatically change the course and direction of my life.

2002 – My Early 20’s

I zig zagged my way through life for a few years exploring the other side of the lens. I worked as an actor and model while honing my skills as a producer, editor, cameraman and director. This is all quite funny to watch in retrospect, but an important part in my journey, nonetheless.

1999 – Mr. VJ

As I was rebelling and finding my way in life as a kid, I spent a great deal of time writing and playing  music in a punk rock band. I submitted this video and song to Much Music and was selected as a finalist to appear on National television on the Nation’s Music Station.

1997 – Delinquent to World Champion

The team at Discovery Channel created a 4 minute video telling the story of how I transformed from delinquent to world champion powerlifter. The narrative is shared between my 18 year old and 38 year old self.

1996 – Club Avatar

Meet the 17 year old version of Elia Saikaly. It all begins here, my foundation was formed in this little gym in Aylmer, Quebec called Club Avatar.


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