Sydney Film Festival – film#5: Sherpa – death in real-time!

“Can’t their owners control them?” says one cashed-up American climber whose attempt to scale Everest is thwarted by striking Sheraps.

The audience gasped, hurling insults at the screen. As an American, I was embarrassed for my people, even more so when he referred to the sherpas as terrorists.

Here was a prime example of somebody with too much money and not enough sense. True, he was pissed after having spent a bucket load of money to summit the mountain, twice, only to be denied, twice, but his complaints came just after 16 sherpas had died in an avalanche on Everest. He was showing no humility, no respect for the dead, and he deserved only scorn, which the audience gave him.

Go see this documentary. It was remarkable for its insights into the sherpa side of the Everest story, even before tragedy struck while the crew were there and so many died. It reveals the toll that climbing Everest has on sherpas and their families. I was surprised by the fear and unease exhibited by the wives and parents of sherpa guides. I naively thought sherpas had been doing this kind of thing since the beginning of time. Isn’t mountain climbing for them the way water is to a duck?

How wrong I was. The real history and emotions behind the sheraps, the work horses of Everest, is fascinating and surprising.

GRADE: 8/10

(Australia) Dir: Jennifer Peedom

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