"Storm Over Everest"


For me, "base camp" is the spot where we park our Volvo, pitch our two-room tent and roast marshmallows over an open fire. The only sherpas involved are me and my husband, who often end up carrying our kids' day packs back from strolls to "the summit," no matter what promises were made when we set out.

Everest, it is not.

Sunset on the Everest massif as seen from Gokyo.

And yet, sagas of climbing Mount Everest have always appealed to me. I have no interest in actually doing it, mind you. But I enjoy watching films of other people scaling Everest, especially when things go badly, which they always seem to. Call it what you will (schadenfreude perhaps), but I love nothing more than to sack out on the couch and watch a classic man-versus-nature story like Frontline's "Storm Over Everest." Even when, as is the case with this film, I know exactly how it is going to go down.

And so do you, unless you've been living under a glacier for the past twelve years. The May 1996 blizzard-cum-climbing-disaster has been heavily chronicled. Jon Krakauer wrote the 1997 bestseller, INTO THIN AIR, which was subsequently released as a TV movie. David Breashears, the filmmaker of "Storm Over Everest" (who, like Krakauer, was actually on the mountain during the fateful events) also made "Everest," the 1998 IMAX film.

I guess that's the main problem with "Storm Over Everest." It is two hours long and there is nothing new to see, except perhaps Beck Weathers' reconstructed nose. I don't want to bash on Beck, because for my money he is far and away the most mind-blowing aspect of the story. But by now, I think everyone knows about the man left for dead, twice, who somehow made it back down the mountain minus several fingers and a good chunk of his, er, nasal extremities. Still, Weathers is nothing short of amazing to listen to - he is a natural storyteller with an incredible story to tell. However, instead of letting Weathers and the other interviewees take the lead, Breashears jumps in too often to narrate the story that's already told. And told in IMAX, no less, which makes this film all the more drab and flat in comparison.


Interestingly, though, shortly after viewing "Storm Over Everest," I discovered two people who know nothing about the May 1996 climbing disaster. Or Mount Everest, for that matter.

They are my kids, ages 8 and 4. I discussed the film, and the events it chronicles to them at dinner tonight.

Me: Hey, so I watched this film about Everest.

Older Kid: Huh?

Me: Everest? It's a mountain? It's the highest mountain in the world?

Younger Kid: Oh! Yeah! It's in New Hampshire!

Me: Actually it's not.

Y.K.: Yes, it is.

Me: No, that's Mount Washington. This is, like, six times as big.

O.K: Huh. Where is it?

Me: It's in Tibet.

Y.K.: Is it near New Hampshire?

So, I guess this conversation showed me that the Everest story needs to keep on being told, if for no other reason than to educate kids like mine about world geography. And to give them more reverence for the awesome power of nature. And to show them the amazing capacity of human beings to help each other in the worst of circumstances.

And, hopefully, to make them more appreciative of my kind of base camp. The kind that does not experience 85 miles per hour winds. And that always maintains an ample supply of marshmallows.


I loved this show. Can you tell me when it will be on again?

I read the book by John Krakauer, but the actual interviews with the people were great. I was only able to see half the show. Are you planning to air it again?

Please tell me if "Storm of Everest" will be aired again and if so when? Thank you.

Post a comment

Ground rules for posting comments:

  1. No profanity or personal attacks.
  2. Please comment on the subject of the blog post itself.
  3. If you do not follow these rules, we will remove your post. Keep it civil, folks!