So it’s not a quick trip, right?
Sean Swarner: It’s not that technical a climb but it is more of a mental thing. I was there for almost a month and a half.
Nick Heil: You’re on the mountain for two months or longer and there’s a lot you need to think about. Nutrition is a big one, just trying to make sure you take in enough calories. You need to save your energy, so staying quiet and composed is a really good way of doing that.
The climbing window opens up usually sometime in May, and you’re making this dash for the top, and you’re kind of racing against the clock. You get up high and you need to get back down to the bottom before your oxygen runs out.
If you do run out of oxygen and/or energy and you collapse up high, it’s really difficult to get back off the mountain. A lot of people die that way. They get stuck up there and they can’t move. You can’t really carry somebody.
Did you watch the movie when it was released?
Nick Heil: I saw it in Hollywood before it was finished, but it was mostly intact. My overall impression was pretty positive and I know they were making a really serious effort to bring a high level of authenticity to the movie. Some things are dramatized in a way that I think people who climb and mountaineer may find that they’re stretching things a little bit…but, overall I was pretty impressed.
You did get a strong sense of being up there. I felt like they did a fairly convincing job of making you feel like you were actually there and I liked the fact that they were trying to let the inherent drama of the story carry the narrative.
Sean Swarner: The movie really made me feel like I was back on the mountain again. It was stunning and it brought back a flood of memories. It made me tear up sometimes too, because of the emotions attached to it. It shows a culmination of training, mental preparation, physical preparation… It’s the crux of the climbing world.
LISTEN: Sean Swarner talks about his summit approach.