The Summit is a docufilm that tells the dramatic story of a doomed attempt to conquer the formidable mountain known as K2.
Though not the highest in the world, K2 is known as the ‘Savage Mountain’ due to the difficulty of the ascent. It’s a mountain that has claimed many lives and statistically speaking, for every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying.
This reputation has spawned a number of films (Vertical Limit, K2) but The Summit looks specifically at what is known as the 2008 disaster. An incident which resulted in eleven climbers losing their lives.
A number of different groups planned their ascent during July of 2008. Each of them from different countries and backgrounds and with differing levels of skill and experience.
But when bad weather forced the groups to hold fast together just before the final attempt on the summit the decision is taken that everyone should work together as one big group – a decision that made sense entirely, but ultimately complicated matters. This last minute change of plan teamed with bad luck and the unpredictability of mother nature had horrifying consequences. Although some members of the party achieved their goal of reaching and returning from the summit successfully, it was at a great cost.
Important to the 2008 story are the examples of heroism and self sacrifice in the face of bleak odds. The film centres around one of the individuals that demonstrated this, Ger McDonnell, and expertly gives the viewer an feel of who he was, what happened and what the impact was on those who knew him.
This is interwoven with other stories and perspectives of the story, giving accounts of other individuals, their achievements and their loss.
Using a combination of real accounts, interviews, real footage and re-enacted scenes The Summit goes into great detail and gives a thorough account of the events that took place. Importantly though, the balance of the different elements keeps the film engaging whilst staying away from sensationalising the tragic happenings.
The re-enactments are skilfully produced and fall in seamlessly with the actual footage, making it hard to tell what is real and what is not. This mAkes the film all the more dramatic.
The Summit is fascinating and gives a great account not only of the events surrounding the tragedy, but also the beauty and danger that one should expect if they should ever attempt to embark on an adventure of this nature.
The end result is a powerful and thought provoking film that stands out among other documentary films and serves as a fitting testament to the people that it is dedicated to.