September 18, 2015

Saw an amazing movie tonight, Meru. I am borrowing this gorgeous photo of Mount Meru, taken by Jimmy Chin.

This is a view of Mount Meru as seen from Tapovon Basecamp. The Shark's Fin is the central pillar in the formation and the part of the mountain most obviously shaped like a shark's fin.

This is a view of Mount Meru as seen from
Tapovon Basecamp. The Shark’s Fin is the central pillar in the
formation and the part of the mountain most obviously shaped like a
shark’s fin.

Go see this movie… for the story, sure, it’s insane, but also the photography. Good lord.

Says the film’s description:

In the high-stakes pursuit of big-wall climbing, the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru may be the ultimate prize. Sitting 21,000 feet above the sacred Ganges River in Northern India, the mountain’s perversely stacked obstacles make it both a nightmare and an irresistible calling for some of the world’s toughest climbers. In October 2008, renowned alpinists Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk arrived in India to tackle Meru. Their planned seven-day trip quickly declined into a 20-day odyssey in sub-zero temperatures with quickly depleting food rations. Despite making it to within 100 meters of the elusive summit, their journey, like everyone before them, was not a successful one.

Until it was.

I’m not giving much away by revealing that they did, in fact, summit Meru, but it wasn’t until a few years later on their second attempt, in October 2011.

It occurs to me that I saw two of the three climbers–Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker–at a dinner in San Francisco in what must have been just days after their successful ascent/descent of Mount Meru!  I’m kind of blown away by this. They were speaking at the annual fundraising dinner of the American Himalayan Foundation and were part of a panel, moderated by Jon Krakauer, of people who’d climbed Everest.  Since I’d been to Everest Base Camp earlier that year, I was interested in hearing them speak (lucky for me, I got an invitation!).

The guys on the panel, ranging in ages from 30-somethings to 80-somethings, were all fascinating with great stories.

Here’s a picture I took that night.. Jimmy Chin in the middle, and Conrad Anker on the right. They sure don’t look like they’ve just returned from any sort of ordeal!


And yet, as the movie clearly shows, they most certainly have!

The following year, I went again to the AHF dinner, this time with Peter. Jimmy Chin was again a speaker, this time talking about his experiences in general of being a mountaineering photographer, and specifically of filming his descent of Everest on skies. The program also featured that Sacramento kid, Alex Honold, who is known world wide for his solo, unassisted free climbs of famous walls, like El Capitan and Half Dome. No ropes. (No comment!)

These guys are a little nuts.

Back to the movie…. Besides breathtaking photography (including some surreal footage of an avalanche) and a lot of rock jock speak, there are genuinely spiritual aspects to mountain climbing and the pursuit of the world’s most dramatic and challenging peaks. The film does a great job of respecting and revering the mountain, while also honoring these guys for some seriously crazy life choices. I really loved it.

From my seat…


(That looks like a neat, swoopy peak on that range behind Anker, no?)

And here’s a view down.. you can see the other two climbers below.


Here is a good site on the making of the film.

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