The IMAX team, led by David Breashears and Ed Viesturs, is mentioned several times in both Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Boukreev's The Climb. They had many goals - make Araceli Segarra the first Spanish woman to summit Everest, bring GPS gear up the mountain for geologist Roger Bilham to get information on the formation and movement of the mountains, and film the ascent to give the world the first 360° view from the summit.
I know the team hadn't set out expecting the worst tragedy in Everest history to occur, so I wondered how they'd handle it in this documentary. Would the film be a product of their original intent? Or would they edit it somehow to involve the events on the mountain?
Everest was a pleasing and emotional combination of both. The film starts just as it intended - with introductions to the climbers who were part of the IMAX expedition, a trip to Kathmandu and coverage of the Sherpa's spiritual attention to the mountain, and familiarizing the audience with the different aspects of the climb, from Base Camp to the treacherous Icefall. For someone who has only read about these things, they were amazing to see - even if just via film.
|Araceli Segarra crossing a crevasse in the Icefall|
Because the intent was to cover their own team's ascent up the mountain, not much is mentioned of the other teams on the climb in the beginning. The exception is a picture that is shown of Rob Hall and Ed Viesturs, old friends. Later, though, when the unfortunate events begin to unfold, the documentary changes directions. Though unnamed, you see several climbers making their way back slowly, stiffly, through the raging storm. You see Beck Weathers' - a climber in Rob Hall's expedition who was assumed dead - miraculous return to Camp, skin blackened with frostbite. The IMAX team had decided not to summit on the same day as the other teams and spent the night at a lower camp to await their bid. When they heard that Beck Weathers was in serious need of medical attention, the team climbed up to bring him down, saving his life.
And you hear Rob Hall. Rob, who somehow survived the night of the storm on the Hilary Step had managed to radio down to the IMAX camp. There is a scene in the documentary where Viesturs pleads with Rob Hall to just keep moving. In the background you can hear Hall's croaking, frozen responses. Later, though it isn't shown, Viesturs finds Hall's body on his own summit bid and stops to pay tribute to his fallen friend.
In the end, the IMAX team makes it. Araceli Segarra becomes the first Spanish woman to summit. Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of the one of the first two men to climb Everest, summits with her and leaves behind a tribute to his father. The first 360° view of the mountain is captured.
Is it silly to feel this emotionally attached to a mountain I'll never visit and people I don't know, nor will ever meet? I can't help it.
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