The Summit

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summitThis movie is a cliffhanger. Literally.

It takes place on August 1st and 2nd in 2008, when the toughest mountain to climb in the world (K2) is attempted by 25 climbers. Almost half of them died.

It’s known as “SavageMountain” and it’s in the HimalayanMountain range between Pakistan and China.

I started watching the movie wondering what idiots would attempt such a thing. You’ll think that after the movie as well.

I’ve long said that hikers and climbers that do these things should be charged for their rescues and it’s hard to muster any sympathy for such stupid people when you read about them in the paper. That being said, it’s still a gripping experience to watch. It’s also rather informative.

You might know a little about getting snow blind, but who knew that there was high altitude sickness that resulted in bad decisions and lack of logic?

It was a great inclusion by the filmmakers to get the first to conquer K2 (back in the mid-50s) talk about the experience.

The footage from the actual event is shown, as well as interviews from survivors and family members. The reenactments were another story. At times they seemed a necessary evil, as it really drives home exactly how it must’ve looked to see somebody slide by a climber and off the side of a mountain. Yet it still seemed rather odd, as if they’re trying to make an action adventure out of a real tragedy.

When a Serbian climber is the first to die, you’ll be baffled that the entire climb isn’t just cancelled by the other teams. Sure, there’s some speculation that he may have survived his fall, but still. If that doesn’t drive home the point that K2 might be tough to tackle, it’s really hard to get emotionally invested in any of these dopes.

It’s understandable that the climbers won’t risk their own life to help somebody, if it means putting their life in danger. Yet when one female climber, who lost the love of her life, tries to justify it with that idiotic analogy about driving a car and accidents killing people…you’ll be tempted to yell at the screen and explain something that was mentioned earlier in the movie. They stated that at this, the second highest peak on Earth, one out of four climbers dies attempting to climb it. The odds aren’t that high when you’re driving. Not to mention the fact that driving is necessary. Climbing a snowy mountain with the occasional avalanche isn’t.

You do see some moments of heroism, which I won’t spoil for you.

It’s a little confusing the way The Summit jumps around in time and it’s hard to follow who is dead or alive. Yet that doesn’t hinder the film. If the narrative has a few confusing moments, it adds to what is surely a confusing adventure for the climbers.

This is a mesmerizing documentary at times, and you don’t have to be a climber or adrenaline junkie to enjoy it.

It’s playing at the Landmark, but will only be there for a week.

I’m giving it 3 stars out of 5.

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