Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Movie Review: Everest

For starters, Everest was way better than I expected. In the trailer there were a couple things that were  very dramatic, which I will get to, but on the whole, it was quite accurate. There were no explosions, the visuals were stunning, and some of the harder aspects were covered. So, I will dive into the various aspects that were especially good or bad.
Everest from Kalla Patar, 18,500 feet, April 21st, 2014

  • The movie really hit on the mental and emotional side of Everest. All mountains are a mental challenge. All mountains provide an emotional experience. But, Everest... Everest is different. It is the tallest. People don't get summit fever, at least not very hard, on most mountains. On Everest, people will walk uphill to their death. The movie moves a little slow at times to give the mental and emotional side of the story, but that is really the story I appreciate.
    • There is a scene where Krakauer asks, "Why do you do it?" and the responses are given in the same silent, uncomfortable (or bravado...) manner than real mountaineers answer the question.
    • At a different time one of the climbers says roughly, "When I am back in the world I feel a black cloud over me all the time. But when I am out here, on a mountain, any mountain, it doesn't exist." I get depression, I have had some mild depression in the past, at least that's all I will admit to publicly, and I don't have it in the mountains, even when I turn around low on the mountain.
  • The dramatic parts on the ladders and the fall on the Lhotse face were ridiculous. Yes, it is possible they could have all happened, but unlikely to have happened like that. Actors often make things look dramatic to get the feeling out there, but just wait until I have a video of our Mt. Rainier climb done, my partner takes a fall, not too dramatic. If you fall on a fixed line, your ascender stops you after like three feet. 
  • The series of bad choices that lead up to accidents are well portrayed. Typically things happen slowly and usually a series of bad choices leads to people dying. Also, a movie visually explains the bad choices in a way that books do not. When Rob heads back up, with Doug... you need to see it!
    • First, the weather is intermittent, which is a small issue and typical in the days before good weather forecasting, but definitely a contributing factor.
    • Second, the missing oxygen bottles at the south summit. Someone could have perhaps carried up a few bottles from the south col, or told everyone to go to a lower oxygen flow rate. This actually only encourages me to climb without bottled oxygen.
    • The route was not fixed, they seemed to be surprised about that, and they had to wait while someone with rope got to the traverse before the Hillary step to fix the route. All of these contributed to people being tired and slow. It's amazing what you can do with 20 meters of rope.
    • After that the reasons that individual people died had to do with a variety of decisions, a little different for every person. For example, Rob helping Doug to the summit at 3:15 PM... bad decision. Andy Harris heading back up to Rob when he knew there was no oxygen and the weather was getting terrible, more difficult decision because it was a rescue at that point, but he died.
  • Anatoli was portrayed very well. Not only did he help rescue a few people from the other side of the south col, he went back up to Scott Fisher, and fixed the route up the Hillary step, all without using bottled oxygen. It's not dramatized either, he actually did that stuff.
  • The visuals and graphics were great! They were incredibly accurate. The trek in through the villages was accurate and the mountain scenes were accurate. Vertical Limit apparently took place on K2, but none of the shots are from K2. Cliffhanger supposedly took place in the US, but it was filmed in Europe. The Eiger Sanction is fairly accurate though. (And if anyone wants to buy me those DVDs or Bluerays for Christmas that would be great!)
Again, Everest quite exceeded my expectations. It was more accurate on the important points that I expected. My biggest fear is that it will motivate 100 ignorant people with no experience to get themselves up on Everest and their stupid mistakes might affect me up there someday.
Everest from Pumori Camp 1, 18,500 feet, April 16th, 2014

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