Thursday, September 24, 2015

Everest (2015)

Mount Everest, tallest mountain above sea level. I knew that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to summit Everest. But that's about what history teachers said about the mountain. What they had failed to teach me (and my classmates) at that time was that it's one very dangerous climb: for every 10 people reaching the summit, it is said that one dies trying. But it is more rarely mentioned that the descent is even more dangerous than the assault to the peak.

So many people have died on the slopes of Mount Everest and one would think that they've been given proper burials. But no. Most of their bodies are still there, perfectly preserved where they died... unless if the wind and the earthquakes have moved them, of course. It must be a macabre experience to sit and then notice that the person beside you is actually a dead climber!

Obviously, I'm still reeling after watching the disaster movie, Everest. I didn't know what it was all about at the onset. In fact, I thought it was going to be an adventure movie! It really was. the cinematography was top-notch. The landscapes and the scenery were just so beautiful! It felt like going back in time, to a different culture.

I just didn't know that the movie would end that way... after all, Everest (the movie) was all about the mountaineers who attempted to climb Everest (the mountain) when nature had a grand tantrum in May 1996: a blizzard blew as climbers were descending from the summit. Fifteen mountaineers, including two lead guides, died from exposure to the harsh conditions, falls, exhaustion, injuries, and lack of supplemental oxygen. See, these people went where no human should even be in: 8,000 m above sea level. That's what mountaineers call the "death zone", an area so high up that atmospheric pressure is only a third of what it's like at sea level. This is where the human body shuts down because of lack of oxygen (if the climbers are not using supplementary oxygen) and where many of the deaths up Everest had occurred.

In the movie, the climbers were asked why they wanted to reach the top of Everest. I didn't find any of the answers to be memorable. But what I did find chilling (and this probably is why I still haven't gotten over the movie) is that the mountaineers just left the injured up there to die. I do understand why though: it is already dangerous to climb up and go down; it is even more dangerous to bring along someone with an injury. After all, it is said that climbers attempting Mount Everest sign waivers in case they do not return.

I think I need to watch a comedy next time.