This week while in Kathmandu I was fortunate to see the opening of the new movie, Everest. In fact, I saw it twice. The movie is based on the tragic deaths of five climbers on Mount Everest in 1996. I watch the movie in 3D and 2D at the Big Movies QFX Theater in Kathmandu. There were crowds and crowds of people, mostly Nepalese. And the reception to the movie was very enthusiastic. Jon Krakauer, who was also on that climb in 1996 and witnessed all the events, wrote a book. His book is called Into Thin Air and there was also a movie made from the book with the same title.
What happened in 1996 on Mount Everest?
There were many climbing teams that year in May, all attempting to reach the summit. One organization was called Adventure Consultants owned and lead by Rob Hall. Another crew was affected by the events was called Mountain Madness owned and lead by Scot Fischer. Both of these men were seasoned accomplished climbers. They had been on Mount Everest before and knew what they were doing. The events that took place were not caused by human error, but by the natural causes. Over which no one had any control. To improve the likelihood of reaching the summit these two companies agreed to combine efforts and work together. On May 10th climbers in both companies set out from Camp IV to reach the summit. The weather was clear, there were no apparent storms, and their chances looked good. In their combined efforts Sherpa Sirdars were supposed to agree on who would fix the rope and where. Also an extra oxygen tanks were supposed to be placed for climbers coming down. Unfortunately, when the climbers reach the Hilary Steps the ropes were not fixed. The climbers had to wait a couple of hours while the team leaders fix the rope. When that was done all of Scot Fischer’s Climbers reach the summit and so did most of Rob Hall’s. By afternoon Rob Hall was leading one of his slower climber to the summit, knowing full well that it was late in the afternoon and turn around time would make reaching Camp IV difficult. On the decent of the first climbers a huge storm hit. They couldn’t find the extra oxygen and the lower camps were unable to send help because of the storm. They tried. So on the following morning of May 11th rescue people began to go up the mountain with oxygen and to help the climber returned. But another storm, worse than the first one hit the mountain again so no help could come. Rob Hall was trapped at the top of the Hillary Step with his client. Scot Fischer, who had been ill going up the mountain couldn’t make it down. Two more climbers also died of exposure. The death total was five climbers on the Nepal side and on the Tibetan side three climbers died from the same storm.
One of Rob Hall’s clients, Beck Weather, was left for dead on the mountain. But by some miracle he was able to get up and walk himself into the camp. He survived, but lost both of his hands and his nose. He was airlifted by helicopter from Camp II and made it home. The rest of the climbers returned to base camp, several of who went on to write books about their survival stories. This was the deadliest event in the history of Everest Climbing by 1996. Since then two more tragedies have occurred with even higher death tolls.
18th April 2014 – Avalanche resulting on death of sixteen nepalese guides
25th April 2015 – Avalanche resulting on death of at least nineteen peoples including Dan Fredinburg (Google Executive)
So knowing the background story, I was very curious to see how the movie was. I was not disappointed. It focused on the survival aspects of that climb and didn’t get distracted from this purpose. It was an edge of the seat, thrilling, emotional and gripping account of the events. I felt drawn into these climbers’ lives and physical agony they went through at impossible altitudes. Before Rob Hall let his clients up the mountain, he gave a brief talk. In this talk, he made it clear that above 25,000 ft your body literally starts to die and his job is to get them up and down before it happens.
I have read many books about Everest Expeditions with lengthy explanations and descriptions of conditions at high altitudes. They described the wind, difficulty in walking and breathing, but you don’t feel it until you see it. In this movie by the use of VFX Graphics and amazing cinematography with unbelievable sound effects and solid acting, I felt like I was there.
I would highly recommend this movie if for no other reason than it is impossible to walk out of that movie feeling indifferent to the event. It draws you in, captivate your attention and keeps you entertained for the entire movie. There was not a boring part. If you get the chance see this movie!