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Updated: September 2010. Click on an image to see the FULL size with a caption.
The following reference information is included:
My rating scale: Excellent ; Very Good ; Good ; Fair ; Poor.
Here are my favourite Everest Mountaineering DVDs and videos:
The six-week Discovery Channel series follows Russell Brice's Himex expedition as they attempt to climb Everest's North face in April and May 2006. The documentary focuses on six of Brice's clients - Max Chaya, Tim Medvetz, Terry O'Connor, Mark Inglis, Mogens Jensen and Brett Merrell. The series was partially filmed with cameras mounted to Sherpas' helmets, and two camerapersons who reached the summit. The Discovery Channel website has great information on the expedition.
The film clearly shows the current state of Everest climbing, with Brice's Sherpas fixing ropes all the way to the summit, the varied skills of the climbers, the bottlenecks at the Second Step and the Summit, and the summit fever that overtakes climbers and causes death. Mark's attempt is especially fascinating, as he is a double amputee. There is a very funny scene as he breaks one of his legs as he climbs down from the North Col, and a Sherpa has to carry up another leg to him. Brice's love for the Sherpas is especially touching.
Brett struggles to acclimatize and decides to stop on his way to Camp 2. Mogens is attempting to climb without oxygen and is extremely strong until, after a second night at Camp 2, he decides to descend. Tim also struggles to acclimatize, but perseveres, getting beyond the Second Step. The scenes where Russell, Brett, Mogens, the Sherpas, and Wayne "Cowboy" Alexander attempt to persuade Tim to descend highlight the summit fever that kills people.
Terry O'Connor and guide Bill Crouse reached the Everest Summit on May 14, 2006. Max Chaya, Mark Inglis, cameraman Mark Whetu, and guide Mark Woodward reached the Everest Summit on May 15, 2006. On his descent Max Chaya sees a dying climber: "There's a man here underneath a rock. I think he's about to die. Russ, he's unconscious. He's shivering." The dying climber (David Sharp) becomes world headlines, with a controversy of could he have been rescued.
Filmed 1996. Released in IMAX Theaters 1998. 44 minutes. Cinematography by David Breashears. Narrated by Liam Neeson. This high grossing IMAX film was beautifully filmed by David Breashears, and stars Ed Viesters, the summit team leader, and climbers Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the grandson of Tenzing Norgay, and Araceli Segarra. This documentary chronicles their Mount Everest expedition, that happened to coincide with the May 1996 Everest tragedy.
Ed Viesturs, David Breashears, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, Robert Schauer, and Araceli Segarra reached the Everest summit on May 23, 1996. David Breashears: "Sure, we had to lug a 42 pound camera and a 70 pound tripod for every single shot, and that's on top of the usual physical problems climbers have at that altitude. ... There was the incredible tragedy on Everest, Viesturs' incredible feat climbing without oxygen, the benevolence of the weather on summit day. There was just so much that came together to make that film that one can almost say now that its success was fate."
Excellent film. I especially liked the scene with Jamling Tenzing Norgay putting pictures of his family and the Dalai Lama on the Everest summit.
This 2-disc DVD contains three videos. One video is Lost On Everest. 54 minutes. Filmed 1999. First televised 2000. Produced, written and directed by Liesl Clark. Narrated by Rebecca Mornay. Featuring Conrad Anker, Dave Hahn, Jake Norton, Andy Politz, Tap Richards, Eric Simonson, Jochen Hemleb, David Breashears, Graham Hoyland, John Mallory, and Lee Meyers, This visual companion to the Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine book explores the discovery of George Mallory's body on Everest seventy five years after his disappearance. It uses archival footage of the 1924 Everest British Expedition, as well as extracts from personal letters sent by Mallory to his wife, to frame the story. The Nova website has great information on the expedition and other videos.
Conrad Anker: "all of a sudden I saw a patch of white that wasn't rock and it wasn't snow. And as I started traversing closer to this, I saw what appeared to be the lower part of a leg. I saw hobnail boots, old clothing that was all natural fibers, wool and cotton. And I knew right away, this is what we were looking for." Jake Norton: "I went as far as scratching out a little tombstone for Irvine saying, '1902-1924.' ... I noticed some tags there. ... Wait, this is George Mallory!"
On May 17 Conrad Anker free climbed the fat crack to the left of the ladder on the Second Step, and with Dave Hahn continued to the Everest summit. They didn't carry their camera so there are no summit views. Anker comments on the possibility that Mallory and Irvine made it to the Everest summit: "given the severity and the technical requirements of this route, and the standard of climbing in 1924, I find it improbable."
The Sarah McLaughlin song Ice Cream is used in the film, with the haunting refrain "It's a long way down, it's a long way down, it's a long way down to the place where we started from".
Filmed 1997. 57 minutes. First televised 1998. Produced and directed by David Breashears and Liesl Clark. Narrated by Jodie Foster. Written by Liesl Clark. In the spring of 1997 climbers agreed to undergo physiological and psychometric testing from Base Camp to the summit of Mount Everest to explore the effects of altitude on the body and mind.
Filmmaker David Breashears, expedition leader Ed Viesturs, deputy expedition leader Pete Athans, David Carter, Guy Cotter, Veikka Gustafsson, Tashi Tenzing, and Jangbu Sherp reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 23, 1997. David Breashears: "I'm on top of the world! We made it. I'm on the summit of Mount Everest—29,028 feet. I am here with David Carter, Ed Viesturs. I can see everywhere. It's just so beautiful."
The descent becomes life-threatening when Carter almost suffocates from an upper respiratory infection severely worsened by the effects of altitude. Ed Viseturs: "David's dying! It's like his throat's obstructed." Following instructions from Howard Donner, the doctor at base camp, Viesturs performs several Heimlich maneuvers, and carefully guides Carter down, constantly watching his health and giving him medicine. Dave Carter: "It's a living hell. The only way to describe it is an utter exhaustion. You really don't care if you die or if you just sit down and don't go any further."
The third video is Everest: The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine (Nova) which is a basic 55-minute telling of the story made in 1986.
Released 2003. Directed by Pete Athans. 44 minutes. This North Face video details the 1999 expedition to measure the height of the snow dome on the top of Everest using GPS (8850m, 29,035ft). The team was led by Pete Athans, who was attempting his 6th Everest summit, with support from Brad Washburn, and featuring climber and science manager Charles Cornfield and climber Bill Crouse. Pete: “As much as it is a physical mountain made of rock and snow and ice, it’s equally a mountain of ideas and represents for people just a symbol of the ultimate challenge for them personally.”
The video has some nice brief historical footage including the first ascent of the North Face by the Chinese in 1960. I especially liked the focus on the Sherpas, a strong, selfless, hardworking, loving and happy people. The dangers of the icefall are brought home with a long range view of Pete crossing a wide crevasse on multiple ladders strung together. His crampon gets tuck on the rung and, after trying to wriggle it free, he has to bend down, while holding the guide ropes, to take it off. The views of the South Col at sunset, the dangerous ridge from the south summit to the summit, and the Hillary Step are the best I’ve seen.
Pete Athans on the summit on May 5, 1999 at 10:30: "It's a gorgeous day up here, very light winds, just absolutely fantastic." A few days later Babu Chiri Sherpa slept on the summit without oxygen for 21 hours. There is good footage of Babu being congratulated on his arrival back at base camp, and Pete's speech.
The 24 minutes of bonus footage is very good, featuring the Saturday Namche Bazaar, the Sherpas, Monks, Basecamp activities like cooking and getting water and putting up the stone walls of the kitchen and puja altar, the cleanup of oxygen bottles off the South Col, and a brief but excellent review of the effects of altitude sickness from a doctor at the Kunde hospital.
This DVD has three videos; Everest: The Quest (45 minutes), Everest: Tempting Fate (45 minutes), and Conquest Of Everest (78 minutes). Directed by George Lowe. Released 1953. Filmed by Thomas Stobart and George Lowe. Conquest Of Everest is the Academy Award nominated documentary about the 1953 British expedition that was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Both the New York Times and Time magazine named it one of the ten best films of the year.
Starting with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the movie shows the long trek to base camp, walking across crevasses spanned with wooden logs, cutting steps, and the oxygen systems. We see the first summit attempt pair Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans returning exhausted to the Souith Col after reaching the Everest South Summit on May 26, 1953. Hillary and Tenzing return from the summit and are welcomed with smiles, hugs and pats on the back.
It is fascinating to see such an impoprtant piece of Mountaineering history. I was disappointed that there was no summit footage.
by Stuart Peacock. On May 16 May, 2002 Dave Pritt, Chris Mothersdale and Stuart Peacock reached the top of Mount Everest from the North Ridge, members of the Adventure Peaks Summits Everest commercial expedition. Stuart brought his handycam and produced this 80-minute video. The film shows the entire journey: from Kathmandu to the summit, including Nyalam, Tingri, Base Camp, ABC, and the North Col.
For the first twenty minutes I was very disappointed in this video. It is a home movie with the typical issues like nauseatingly fast panning, poor zooms, and sounds from the person behind the camera. I would have given the video only one star. But then, the story and the subject improved dramatically to the point I gave it four stars. This is probably the best home movie I’ve ever watched.
When Peacock gets to base camp, the story slows down, the camera gets steadier, and the takes get longer. The highlights for me were the puja ceremony, the climb to the North Col, and the spectacular film of the first, second and third steps, and the summit area.
Released 2009. 35 minutes. Directed by Ludo Challeat. In French. This film follows guide Ludo Challeat and climbers, Stephan Saxstad, Martine and Francois Marsigny, Christian Maurel, Pierre Schwinte, Jean-Marc Nowak, and Claude Colletta, sirdar Pemba Sherpa, Nima Dorje Sherpa, Nima Tamang, Gelze Sherpa, Tchembe Sherpa, Mingma Sherpa, Tsonba Sherpa as they attempt to climb the Everest North Face in the spring of 2009. Interviews with the climbers are interspersed with the climbing footage. See expes.com for photos and more information.
The film starts with the drive to base camp with perfect views of Everest North Face. It shows life at base camp including eating, taking a shower, shaving, and watching a movie. They load the yaks, trek to Advanced Base Camp, and set up the cooking and eating tents, and clear the platforms for the sleeping tents. The climbers watch the puja, while we see the Sherpas drinking shots of liquor.
The climbers acclimatize by climbing up to the North Col, back down again, up to camp 2 at 7700m, back down again, up again to camp 2. They then descend all the way to Tingri, before returning to base camp and Advanced Base Camp. They climb in two groups for the summit push. The film uses footage from May 16, 2007 to fill in the missing film to the summit. On May 20, 2009 Ludo Challeat, Pemba Sherpa, Christian Maurel, and Tchembe Sherpa reached the summit of Mount Everest. Martine and Francois turned around near Mushroom Rock (8500m) when she became blind from her cornea becoming frozen.
In the second group, Claude Colletta and Nima Dorje reached the Mount Everest summit on May 21, 2009 at 7:30am. The Sherpa for Pierre Schwinte, Tsonba, quickly shows signs of fatigue leaving camp 3. To have any chance of making the summit, Pierre suggested to Tsonba that he would go on by himself. Pierre Schwinte reached the summit at noon. Jean-Marc turned around. Stephan Saxstad left late from camp 3 and turned around at 8500m, filming a panorama of Everest, Makalu, Changtse, and Cho Oyu. You can really see the fatigue in Stephan's eyes as he is interviewed at Camp 3 and when he back again at camp 1.
Extras include Pierre Schwinte describing his adventure to the summit (14 minutes), Claude Colletta's grainy, streaky film from the summit (1 minute), and a collection of photos (2 minutes).
It is expertly filmed, perfectly paced, and contrasts the climbing with interviews with the climbers. The mountain views are excellent - I especially liked the view of the Everest ridge, clearly showing the danger, panning to a view to the Kangshung cornices and glacier, and Makalu.
Directed and filmed by Leo Dickinson from adventure-eye.com. 52 minutes. Released 1979. Additional filming by Eric Jones and Reinhold Messner. Winner of the Best Expedition Film at the Banff Film Festival, this film documents a milestone in the history of mountaineering when Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler climbed Everest without oxygen on May 8, 1978. High altitude climbing would never be the same again.
Could it be done? Would their blood vessels burst? Would they suffer brain damage leading to madness? Nobody was sure. Messner: "But nobody knows if it is possible to climb Everest without oxygen. ... I would never come here for trying Everest with oxygen. It's not important to me. That is not a challenge for me."
A fascinating piece of history, well filmed, featuring Messner and Habeler's thoughts. The film follows the usual sequence from Namche to Base Camp, through the Icefall, to Camps I, II and III. The potential risks of climbing without oxygen is frighteningly illustrated when a Sherpa suffers a stroke, and is slowly dragged back to Base Camp. There is a great scene showing Messner and Habeler's superb physical shape as they plod up the Lhotse Face without taking long pauses. It also has some rare historical footage of the tragic Mallory expedition, the pioneering Shipton expedition and the successful first ascent.
Above the South Col Messner used a cine camera to continue the filming, a bit crude but exciting, featuring the wind-swept ridge from the South Summit, Habeler climbing the Hillary Step, the final steps to the summit, and closeups of Habeler's face on the summit. Habeler: "I wasn't proud or whatever. And I wasn't even aware and I don't think he was aware that we were sitting on the top of Everest."
Produced, written and directed by Liesl Clark. Released 2003. Because it is 94 minutes long, the pace is a little slower than other shorter videos, and gives more time to the pain of the climb, the Buddhist Puja ceremony and the Sherpa people. Led by Pete Athans, the 2002 National Geographic Everest Expedition features Tenzing Norgay’s son Jamling at Base Camp, Sir Edmund Hillary’s son Peter and Barry Bishop’s son Brent attempting to summit Everest.
There is some great footage of the 1952 Swiss and 1953 British expeditions and the 1963 US Expedition, with some interviews of Sherpas from those expeditions. Some of the hardships on climbing Everest are well documented, with Brent's constant coughing, Peter's getting sick at Camp II and again on the South Col and having to descend. There is a memorable scene with the wind whipping at 100km per hours against the tents at Camp II.
On May 25, 2002 Peter Hillary and Brent Bishop reached the summit of Mount Everest, each for the second time, while Pete Athans reached the summit of Mount Everest for the seventh time. An emotional Peter Hillary calls his Dad Sir Edmund Hillary: "Dad, it's Peter. We're on the summit. ... What you did, well nearly 50 years ago is just incredible. ... You guys cut steps, basically into the unknown. And up the jolly Hillary Step." Very moving.
There is a 20 minute bonus interview with Pete Athans and Erik Weihenmeyer, the only blind man in history to reach the summit of Everest on May 25, 2001.
Released 1982. 57 minutes. Narrated by Robert Redford. Led by Lou Whittaker, the American China-Everest 1982 Expedition attempted an unclimbed north face route. The film captures their preparation, travel, and the climb. The team was a whos who of American climbing including Jim Wickwire, Phil Ershler, Eric Simonson, Larry Neilson, Geo Dunn, Marty Hoey, and Dave Mahre.
Within 500m of the summit, Marty Hoey attempts to rest on her harness, but falls down the north face to her death when it come undone - a tragic mistake at high altitude. I have visited her memorial at Everest North Base Camp a couple of times - very moving.
Directed by Lance Trumbull. Released 2007. 63 minutes. Narrated by Orlando Bloom. Dalai Lama: "Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength."
In the spring of 2006, Jamie McGuiness leads a team of 6 climbers from different countries and different religious faiths to attempt the North Face. The film focuses on Israelis Dudu Yifrah and Micha Yaniv and a Muslim Ali Bushnaq, with the hope that these men will become friends and help each other to the summit. "It is through actions of peace that peace is spread." Check out the Everest Peace Project website. There are only 6 minutes of bonus features.
The film opens with scenes from Jerusalem, reviewing some of the conflicts in the area. The team travels from Kathmandu via Tingri to Rongbuk Monastery and Base Camp. They trek to ABC and then prepare for the summit climb. Although Ali doesn't acclimatize well and has to stop, Jamie, Dudu, Micha, Tonya Riggs, Sele Selamolela, and Sherps Namgyal, Da Yula, Dawa Gelge, and Lhakpa make it to the summit on May 18, 2006. The descent becomes a bit scary when South African Selamolela collapses just below the summit. Jamie gives him dex while Namgyal climbs back up from Camp III with oxygen and liquids to rescue Sele.
The climbing portion of the video is very good. I have followed Jamie McGuiness through the Project Himalaya website for a few years and enjoyed watching him in action. The peace portion of the video was a bit superficial, but the scene of Dudu holding the Palestinian flag on the summit while talking to Ali was inspirational. It is expertly filmed and and well paced with excellent narration and background music.
Director and cinematographer Michael Brown. Filmed in HDTV in 2001. Released 2003. 75 minutes. This documentary chronicles blind climber Erik Weihenmayer on his historic ascent of Everest in 2001. Nineteen of the 21 team members made it to the top, the most from one team to reach the summit of Everest in a single day, including the oldest person (at the time) at 64 years old.
The film opens with Erik's preparation at home, Kathmandu, a very good description of the trek to Base Camp, followed with a tearful farewell with his Dad. When Eric does his first 13-hour trip through the Khumbi Icefall, you feel his blindness as he very slowly walks across a group of extended ladders, sometimes attempting to put his foot off the side of the ladder into space above the gaping crevasse. His crew have to be his eyes - careful! Eric's determination and mountaineering skills, with support from his team, enabled him to summit at 10:00 a.m. on May 25, 2001.
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Directed by John-Paul Davidson and Roger Mills Shown on TV in 2004. Six episodes. 352 minutes. BBC. Extras include 31 minutes of interviews with Michael and 124 minutes of deleted scenes. Episode 3 Annapurna to Everest (59 minutes plus 29 minutes of deleted scenes) features Annapurna, Kathmandu, and Everest North Base Camp (17 minutes plus 4 minutes of deleted scenes).
From Kathmandu they travel by road and cross the Friendship Bridge into Tibet, reaching the plateau just north of Nyalam at Milarepa's cave. They cross high mountain passes on the Roof Of The World to the Pang La and its view of Everest and the high mountains. Along the way they watch a Tibetan village festival, before arriving at Rongbuk Monastery to watch the monks and nuns chanting their sacred texts, and the perfect views of Everest. After staying at the spartan Rongbuk Guesthouse run by the monks, they trek to Everest North Base Camp, with yaks carrying their luggage. A yak herder family prepares food, and Michael tries the chang.
The scenes of the Rongbuk Monastery and Everest North Base Camp are spectacular. Everest shines in the cold clear weather. The yak herders are nicely portrayed. Beautifully filmed. Nicely paced. Michael Palin is very entertaining.
Welt Weit. 40 minutes. 2005. In German. Trekking with DAV Summit Club. This DVD also has the trek to Muktinath in the Annapurna region (20 minutes), and a bonus feature visiting Calcutta, Darjeeling, and Orissa in India (27 minutes). The film starts with the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, and then trekking via Phakding and Monjo, showing the trail, yaks, and mani stones, and a great view of Everest just before reaching Namche Bazaar. They continue their trek to Tengboche, and see the colourful Mani Rimdu festival. They continue to Pangboche with views of Nuptse, Lhotse, Everest, Makalu, and Ama Dablam. There are photos of the view from Kala Pattar and of Base Camp. On the return they visit Khumjung and Thame.
Even though the video is in German, it is easy to know where they are. The filming is very good. The mountain views are very good, although I was disappointed there were no film from Kala Pattar or Base Camp.
by Touratech. 52 minutes. In German. Filmed in May 2002. Starring Heike Bogdanski and Herbert Schwarz. After a brief stop to visit Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, they travel by motorbike along the Friendship Highway to the broad Tingri Plain in Tibet with views of Cho Oyu, and then over the Pang La to see Everest North Face.
They then travel by Lhatse to Saga and on the Kailash. They meet truckloads of pilgrims and many local people and nomads. The scenery in Western Tibet is broad, expansive and dusty. The pilgrims prostrate at the first sight of Kailash, and then attend the colourful Saga Dawa Festival with the raising of the Tarboche Pole. A brief visit to Chiu Gompa on the shore of Lake Manasarovar ends the film. There is a ten minute bonus with Herbert's comments along the way.
The narration is in German, but the story is self-evident, and the filming, from the pilgrims and local people to the Saga Dawa festival, and Kailash, is excellent. However, they did not do the Kailash Kora, and I think the film focuses a bit too much on the traveling, rather than the sights and people.
Welt Weit. 54 minutes. 2006. In German. Trekking with DAV Summit Club. This DVD has a bonus feature taken from the Welt Weit Nepal Himalaya-Trekking im Reich der Achttausender video featuring a trek from Jomsom to Muktinath in Nepal (20 minutes). This film follows a group of German trekkers as they drive from Shigatse over the Pang La (with views of Makalu, Everest and Cho Oyu) and on to Kharta. They trek for four days from Kharta over the 5100m Doya La, and then drive to Rongbuk and Everest Base Camp. From Everest they drive to Cho Oyu Base Camp and then trek towards Cho Oyu Advanced Base Camp, climbing Balung Ri (6050m) on the way.
The first 7 minutes of the video are boring as the tour leader performs a monologue. The filming is Tibet is very good with good scenery. I liked the scenes of the local people, their primitive houses, the yak herders, and nomads. I especially like the scenes with the children who bubble with enthusiasm and fun. The film of cloudy Everest at sunrise is very good.
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