Beautifully filmed, this documentary tells in real time the avalanche of 18 April 2014 that took the lives of sixteen sherpas and prompted their refusal to climb Chomolungma, the mother god of Earth that we know as Mt Everest. Big Western money was at stake here with customers ( because, let’s face it- this IS a business) paying big money to have Sherpas transport their every need from camp to camp so that they could cross ‘Everest’ off their bucket list. Westerners crossed the treacherous and unstable Khumbu Icefall glacier just twice: the Sherpas crossed it twenty to thirty times, carrying heavy loads in the darkness because sunlight made the glacier even more treacherous and unpredictable. There had been conflict in 2013 when a Westerner swore on the mountain, viewed by the Sherpas as a holy site, and after this avalanche the Sherpas were under government and commercial pressure to recommence their work.
You’re told in the opening sequence that the avalanche is going to occur, and I found myself holding my breath wondering just when it was going to happen. I felt angry at the manipulation exerted on the Sherpas, and the self-centredness of the disgruntled customers. And, watching this in the knowledge of the death just recently of that young Australian woman on Everest, made me even more certain that there is no way, physically or ethically, that I would ever climb it!