Storm Over Everest

Join the Discussion

What are your thoughts on this remarkable story of life, death and survival?

everest photos

Dear FRONTLINE,

An extraordinary documentary. I didn't want to see it at first because I knew the story outline, and I wasn't in the mood for a sad film. However, it drew me in. It was absolutely enthralling. The arch of the film, was so beautiful; so truthful; so much like life - with heroic actions, and regretful ones, but with all characters treated with respect.

I've not seen a better documentary... or hardly ever a film of such artistic merit.

The music is not just excellent. It's great - on the highest artistic level, and fundamental to the telling of the story.

Stuart Coleman
Orange, CT

Dear FRONTLINE,

Reading through all the discussions to date, it's evident that this controversy is still as hot as it was several years ago. So many points of view and so many issues commented on proves that this topic has meaning and the debate should go on. Good arguments about responsibility, environment, business and teamwork abound today as it did 12 years ago. Whether you thought the Frontline episode was thorough enough or not, the fact that so many people feel tied to this controversy means Frontline covered a story that has value with the general public.

I applaud this web site's coverage of the event. Where the Frontline episode left me wanting more information (I understand time constraints), this web site fed my hunger. The "Roundtable" feature is EXCELLENT. I highly encourage people to read the wisdom of the experts. A good documentary informs us about why an event or issue is controversial and worth examining. It also does not try to sway us or determine who is right or who is not. More importantly, a well-produced documentary shows us why a controversial issue has no easy answers, and it leaves us asking ourselves hard questions about what we would do or what the world community should do. I think this Frontline episode and these excellent web pages accomplished that.

Frenchtown, Montana

Dear FRONTLINE,

To Somewhere in Washington-Please know that our support is with you and we do not make the foolish mistake of criticizing those things we know nothing about. Your Father was a better Man for knowing what he wanted to do with his life and realizing it. And that is far more than most people can hope for at the end of theirs. Maybe those are the ones who cry out for the regular FRONTLINE programming, preferring the armchair to dizzying heights of the top of the world.

Nederland, CO

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am thrilled that Frontline did the honors of presenting David Breashears film Storm Over Everest. This film was meant to be continuous without commercial distractions, to keep the viewer deeply connected to the human experience...survival, death, suffering...we all share this path no matter who we are. Storm Over Everest is a very clear example of the remarkable and mysterious strength of the human spirit and at the same time how we have no way of truly knowing who will live or who will die while in the midst of the extreme. David's film is "beautiful" and speaks of his sensitivity and maturity as a filmmaker. Thank you Frontline and thank you David!

stephanie graham
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Dear FRONTLINE,

To "Somewhere in Washington" --- I got a clear image of what a great,dedicated and driven man your father [Doug Hansen] was when I read of him in Ed Viesturs' No Shortcuts To The Top and Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. I feel for your loss.

colleen feltus
littleton, ma

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a longtime friend of Anatoli Boukreev in the US and Kazakhstan between1990 and 1997 I would like to thank David Breashears and PBS for their superb treatment of the events of May 1996 on Everest, in the documentary itself, and on the informative companion website. The words of those who lived through these events, combined with stunning images of the power and beauty of nature at its wildest conveyed the contradictions of why we climb in an unforgettable manner.

I particularly want to commend the decision to refrain from the artificial controversy provoked by some of the original `reporting', dominated by Monday morning quarterbacking, questionable speculation regarding what might have occurred under other scenarios and attribution of alterior motives. Instead, poignant questions focus on the hidden parts of what actually did happen high on the mountain out of sight of any survivors, and that is appropriate.

I only wish that coverage at the time had been so professional and factual, instead of veering dangerously toward the precipice of preconceived fiction. As a climber himself, as a cinematographer, and a journalist engaged in adventure and preservation of endangered wild places and cultures, leave it to Mr. Breashears to once again show us how to do it right.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bob Palais
Salt Lake City, UT

Dear FRONTLINE,

At the end of the program, one of the climbers notes that some people acted well on the mountain while some did not. This is undoubtedly true. Unfortunately, I found that, perhaps out of fear of insulting the dead, the narrative pulled its punches, never really saying where responsibility lay for the deaths on the mountain. Perhaps the filmaker was too close to the climbing community and the families of the deceased to present a full, critical account. Among other things, many of these climbers did not look like particularly impressive atheletes -- either physically or mentally. Why were they even climbing the mountain? Was it wrong for some of the climbers to stay in the base camp while others were dying? Were guides placing money and their reputations above safety? Should weaker climbers have refused help from stronger climbers? In short, I found the program dissatisfying.

LA, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

There is no mention of the 3 fatalities of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) expedition from India. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Boots

is there any specific reason why this was ignored?

vees dee
san diego, ca

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

The film focused on the deaths on the southeast side of the mountain. More information on the three deaths on the Tibetan side can be found here.

Dear FRONTLINE,

This story, the incredible way it was reenacted, really gave me the sense of what it actually would be like to be in all the idividuals' shoes. David did an excellent job of capturing the thoughts and experiences of the climbers.

This film touched me profoundly in that it had me questioning myself about my own ability, strength, and tenacity of spirit and charater. I contemplated what the "mountains" were in my own life, and whether I had the gumption to climb them; would I help others along the way at the espense of self-sacrifice, exercise wise judgement in the face of self-serving ambition or egotism? Or would I have the will to keep trying even though all earthly wisdom and resources said that it was impossible?!

This was truly a story about faith, character, the tenacity of the human spirit, the intervention of God and in some cases the lack thereof. It leaves questions to be pondered by those who are left behind, a formidabe journey, an Everest in it's own right. I hope each one finds clarity at the summit.

alexia hall
san antonio, tx

Dear FRONTLINE,

somewhere in Washington,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on behalf of your father and others who have been disparaged by those without compassion and and understanding.

Your father sounds like a great guy - may he RIP and may you and family forever take pride in who he was and how he lived his life.

somewhere in,, California

Dear FRONTLINE,

I met David Brashears in the late 90's when I was privileged to be his escort on a speaking tour of central Pennsylvania. The thing that impressed me most about David is that he is a humble man, cognizant of his own limitations. I believe that in his Frontline opus, David gave the best representation that (italics intended) HE BELIEVES TRULY (end italics) that he could give to the Frontline audience.

I know that David would acknowledge that no one, including David, could ever, nor will ever, fully represent nor fully give the true and complete story of what actually happened on that horrible day in 1996. The story is too multifaceted, and more so too subjective to get a "true story". I only wonder why Ed Viesturs, John Krakauer, and Rob Hall's widow were not interviewed. It may have been a time/editorial constraint. I do not know...I DO KNOW that David Brashears is an honest man. His pain over this incident will last forever. Our interest will last (thank God) not nearly as long.....

My salute to you, David, for a great attempt at an impossible task...Chip

Chip Goodhart
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Dear FRONTLINE,

Hi,

I just learned about the May 13th show and unfortunately missed it. When might it be aired again?

Thanks.

Steve Bailes

Steve Bailes
Norwalk, CT

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Check your local listings to find out when the film will be rebroadcast on television. Or you can watch the full program online until June 13, 2008.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I would like to commend David Breashears for a superb job with "Storm over Everest." While watching the film, my girlfriend asked why the cinematographer wasn't helping those in need..I chuckled and responded: "It is a recreation." - Captivating, powerful, convincing.....job well done David.

Paul Theo
Danby, Vermont

Dear FRONTLINE,

I've enjoyed Frontline for many years, & this story didn't deserve to be on Frontline. It is a very biased account to events that happened that fateful May.

To completely omit Jon Krakauer's experiences, & as to his criticisms of guide Anatoli Boukreev, I thought was a very blatant & personal attack by Director David Breashears on Jon Krakauer.

This is a story about thrill seeker egos & money to burn. It's a story of personal challenge. It isn't about team spirit. It is survival of the fittest, & that is the cold hard reality of a climber. The somber moment for these people comes only when they actually face death, & realize then & there if it is worth the price. This should have been asked to Beck Wethers. Makalu Gau seemed to have regretted his decision.Frontline. Love the show, but next time, weigh the pros & cons, like you usually do.

Sieg Krehmer
Calgary, Alberta

Dear FRONTLINE,

What amazes me in the comments I have read here is the ignorance of those who obviously have never done any technical climbing like this other than climbing into bed at night. I've read the books, commentaries, and other media on this tragic event. Every on seems to have their two cents to make. The benefit of the doubt needs to be left up to the climbers and to them alone. I once had aspirations of climbing Everest, however that all changed after I successfully summited Mt. Rainier in 1991. Even though it was about half the elevation, the physical demands it put on me gave me a great respect for nature.

Clovis, CA,

more


home . introduction . interactive map . the survivors' stories . join the discussion . a talk with filmmaker david breashears
blog: everest summit attempt . producer's notebook . readings & links . live chat with producer david breashears . roundtable: the ethics of climbing
site map . dvd & transcript . press reaction . credits . privacy policy . journalistic guidelines . FRONTLINE series home . wgbh . pbs

posted may 13, 2008

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