Everest: The Mountain at the Millenium

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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.

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