Everest Documentaries?
April 12, 2011 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Movies, documentaries, and TV shows about high-altitude mountain climbing (such as Everest)?

In order to feed a newfound passion, I'd love to see anything you found particularly interesting or informative. I'm really interested in the technical aspects of the climb like safety systems, gear, and things of that nature.


Thanks :)
posted by pyrom to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
David Breashears did a documentary (with reenactments) about an ill-fated climb. It aired on FRONTLINE and you can buy a copy here: ShopPBS.

It's not available on the site anymore, because we only licensed it for streaming for two weeks. But you can watch an excerpt.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:50 AM on April 12, 2011

Best answer: Everest Imax!
posted by travis08 at 7:54 AM on April 12, 2011

Salathe - Blood Sweat And Bagels--Yosemite, not high-altitude

Beyond Gravity

Dark Glow of the Mountains
--Werner Herzog on Reinhold Messner
posted by Ideefixe at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2011

I found Everest: Beyond the Limit very interesting and informative. But I know nothing about mountain-climbing so I don't know how accurate it is.
posted by Pleadthefifth at 8:12 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Tom-B at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2011

Touching the Void is a great book/film about a mountaineering expedition. It's not really high altitude, but it is a big ass, dangerous mountain and shit goes badly.

2nd anything by David Breashears.

There's a lot of stuff on Youtube, some clips from professional filmmakers, others by armatures on recent climbs.

Everest: Beyond the Limit was a reality show that followed an expedition, with typical reality show heroes and villains. It was interesting but it mostly just made me angry over what Everest has become.

K2 is a fictional movie about a climb on, well, K2. It is laughably bad.

A lot of the earlier expeditions to Everest made films along the way. If you have a local climbing gym they might have a film library with some of them on DVD.

Look into old episodes of Nova and National Geographic. They've all done quite a few shows on climbing big peaks.
posted by bondcliff at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm really interested in the technical aspects of the climb like safety systems, gear, and things of that nature.

I know you asked for moving images, but I bet you will enjoying reading Freedom of the Hills.
posted by exogenous at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2011

Best answer: Also, if the Banff film festival comes to your town it's usually worth checking out a night or two.
posted by bondcliff at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2011

I went through a similar phase a couple of months ago -- devoured anything and everything I could get my hands on related to Everest.

As other have mentioned, the Discovery series Everest: Beyond the Limit was enjoyable, as was the Breashears Frontline special (many of these are available on Netflix streaming). Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air is a good book about the 1996 Everest disaster.

I also really enjoyed Touching the Void, which is about a climbing accident in the Andes. It's probably the most technically accurate of any of these.
posted by Nothlit at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2011

Its a book, but still might interest you anyway - Not Without Peril
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2011

As for fictional movies, probably the most accurate one in terms of climbing scenes, in fact one of the only accurate ones, is The Eiger Sanction. It's old school, with Clint hammering in pitons, but it's pretty good.

Cliffhanger, K2, the made-for-TV Into Thin Air, and so many others are very, very bad.
posted by bondcliff at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2011

I started watching Vertical Limit last night... it's really awful but weirdly entertaining at the same time.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:35 AM on April 12, 2011

nthing Everest: Beyond the Limit.
posted by lilac girl at 8:58 AM on April 12, 2011

The Wildest Dream
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:25 AM on April 12, 2011

The North Face (Nordwand) is a great historical drama about the WWII-era race to be the first to climb the north face of the Eiger peak in Switzerland. I highly recommend it.

Also I watched at least 2 seasons of that Discovery Channel series on Everest mentioned above. There are some annoying "characters" involved but I think you do probably get a good sense of the skill and danger involved.

Also n-thing the Breashears episode of Frontline, along with Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" - both about the same ill-fated expedition in '96.

(I watched and read a lot about Everest a couple years ago. I have ZERO interest in trying to climb it, but I do really want to make the trek to base camp just to get a good close loot at it!)
posted by dnash at 10:36 AM on April 12, 2011

nthing Everest: Beyond the Limit

It's three seasons: I really enjoyed the first 2 seasons, as you deal with mostly the same people. The third season changed things up, and I found it not nearly as compelling.
posted by Windigo at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2011

yeah I guess everybody here know's about "Touching the Void", but it's seriously a great movie!
posted by BobbyDee at 10:07 AM on August 12, 2011

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