Tonight PBS’s Frontline will air Storm Over Everest David Breashears’ documentary about the tragic 1996 Everest expedition that left five climbers dead. It’s been a while since I read Into Thin Air by Jon Krackauer, but I seem to remember him portraying Breashears as a solid guy, willing to put his film on hold in order to help out the struggling climbers above him on the mountain. That being said, I had problems with Breshears’ IMAX film about the expedition which came out a few years later. It gave stunning footage of the climb, but one thing I didn’t like: the film tells the story of Breashears Ed Viesturs and two other climbers, but gives little mention of the many sherpa guides who were hauling supplies, IMAX cameras, etc to 28,000+ feet (their names flash by quickly in the credits at the end of the flim). Watching Breshears Viesturs climb near the summit, one gets the sense that he is on the mountain by himself (filmed by…God?). This reminded me a lot of the Arctic explorers I’ve written about in my book: though they depended upon the efforts of hundreds of guides, hunters, and sledge drivers, the photographs still usually wipe these away. We are left with an explorer, a mound, and a flag. Still, tonight’s documentary got a good write-up yesterday in the New York Times. For different perspectives on the subject, check out this post at the Adventurist.
On Science, History, and Exploration