Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. For the climbers who attempt it it’s the ultimate challenge. Add in two more goals of placing equipment for scientists high on the mountain, and filming the entire event and you have tripled those challenges.
Ed Viesturs took on those challenges, along with a special team of climbers and directors. Everest, the movie, documents their attempt with Jamling Norgay, whose father was the first to summit Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary. Araceli Segarra is also part of the team, hoping to be the first Spanish woman to make the summit. A Japanese woman, Sumiyo is with the group too, climbing, filming, and hoping for a summit attempt herself.
The preparation that goes into an expedition is no less than a phenomenal organizational feat and the movie shares this with viewer. After determining the climbing and filming teams (spread across several continents), visa are prepared and the group assembles in Katmandu. The weight of the supplies is close to three tons, with maybe two thirds of it being food.
The climbers fly in a helicopter from Katmandu up the valley to shorten their hike to Everest to only 30 miles. The gear and food is carried to base camp by 60 yaks, which are able to carry twice the load that humans can.
Once at base camp, tents were set up for everyone, including a large cook tent for the team. It took awhile for the climbers to adjust to the altitude before they could even start setting up the next higher camp, called middle camp. Only the climbers would go set up the higher camps, the support crew would stay at base camp. This was also part of the process for acclimatization.
At one point, several other teams decided to go for a summit bid, but Ed decided that conditions were not safe and he kept his team behind. The weather suddenly changed and intense winds rolled in catching everyone off guard. Thirteen people were stuck in the blizzard on their descent. Ed’s team had radio contact with the other team leader who had survived a night exposed on the mountain. Their attempts to talk him into getting up and continuing down were futile as he was no longer able to move. He and eight others perished in that storm.
This film also documents the rescue efforts of the IMAX team to help those survivors down off the mountain. While the filming ceased during the rescue efforts, the climbers explained in detail after, what had taken place. Two of the climbers were in bad shape and a rare high altitude helicopter rescue managed to help save their lives.
After this tragic incident, most of the other teams left base camp. The remaining climbers decided to re-group at base camp and wait another week before deciding whether to abandon their own attempt on the mountain. As deceased bodies are not removed from Everest due to the impossibility of the task, the climbers knew to ascend would mean passing by those that had lost their lives.
This film would have not been possible without the ten sharps that carried the 40lb IMAX camera plus its additional equipment (film, tripod, batteries, etc…) to the top of Everest. This was no small feat and everyone said it would be impossible!
To see how this story ends, you really should watch the movie. I came across a copy of the Everest DVD in my local library. As this film premiered in IMAX movies across the country, I can imagine the spectacular photography must have been quite impressive on the big screen verses my tiny television. Regardless, it is still amazing to watch and I recommend seeing the view from the top of the world!