Everest, a film that was released in theatres in September 2015, is the story of two expedition groups trying to survive on the mountain. The groups were led by Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, played by Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal respectively.
The film was met with positive reviews from critics and made over $203 million at the box office worldwide. However, not everyone was enamoured with the film. Before it was even released, Jon Krakauer (author of ‘Into Thin Air’) made it very clear that he was not happy with certain aspects of his portrayal in the film. One scene that particularly upset him, was when his character is asked for help in a rescue but declares that he can’t due to being ‘snow blind’.
Krakauer stated that he never had that conversation and that he was never asked for help. In fact, he described the film to the L.A. Times as ‘total bull’.
Pretty controversial. He then went on to plug his own book.
So, just how realistic was the film? We spoke with two expert climbers with experience of Mount Everest, Sean Swarner and Nick Heil, to get a clearer idea.
Swarner survived two deadly cancers, a medically induced coma and had a lung removed, all before he started chasing down all of the highest peaks on the planet. An amazing guy all round! In 2002, Jon Krakaeur publicly questioned whether Swarner should climb Mount Everest but he did it, reaching the summit on 16 May and proving people like Krakaeur wrong.
Nick Heil is a longstanding Outside magazine editor and author of ‘Dark Summit’, a book about Everest’s second deadliest season, in 2006. Heil didn’t reach the summit of Mount Everest but he did get to 23,000 feet and he interviewed numerous Everest climbers for his book. He also wrote a piece for Outside called ‘Hollywood Knocks off Everest at Last’, in which the actors and producers of the movie shared stories about the mountain and their experiences filming.
So, tell us about the mountain…
Sean Swarner: There are some really technical sections in there, because it is constantly changing, and you’re wearing crampons, you’re roped up, you’re running across ladders. I guess there’s nothing ‘technical’ about going across a ladder that’s strung across a crevasse, but it takes cajones the size of watermelons.
Nick Heil: I was on Everest in 2007. I was actually on the north side, so I haven’t been to the south side base camp, although I’ve been up high on the Khumbu, so I know that area pretty well. There’s not much in the way of technical climbing on Everest, it’s very accessible to people without a high level of technical climbing ability.
“Everest is another beast altogether.” Rob Hall in the film.
WATCH: Sean Swarner cross a ladder over a crevasse during his Everest climb.
So what effect does this mountain have on your body?