Surviving Everest (2003) Full National Geographic Documentary

She is the highest mountain in the world and known to those who live at her base as Chomolungma, “Mother Goddess of the World.” Fifty years ago, in May 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first human beings to conquer Everest. Ten years later, National Geographic’s Barry Bishop followed and survived, but suffered severe frostbite that later resulted in the loss of his toes.

Now, many decades after these historic first ascents, the sons of these men, all accomplished climbers in their own right – Jamling Tenzing Norgay, Peter Hillary and Brent Bishop – confront the mountain. They join expedition leader Pete Athans, a man who has climbed Everest more than any other Westerner, to attempt a double-route summit.

One group will attempt to climb the extremely difficult West Ridge, first pioneered by the Americans in 1963. A second group will follow the Southeast Ridge, the route pioneered by Hillary and Tenzing. Like the Americans forty years before, the two groups aim to meet on top. Norgay, who climbed Everest in 1996 and vowed never to climb her again, will climb to Base Camp but no further.

The climbing challenges that the team face pushes Surviving Everest into the realm of pure adventure. But there is more to the story than the commemoration of a remarkable series of firsts. Not only does this film tell the untold stories of the first ascents and the individuals who made them, it reveals that in the fifty years since the first successful ascent, dramatic change has swept the mountain, the Khumbu region and the Sherpa people who live there.

The Sherpas hold records for the fastest Everest ascent from the south side (16 hours, 56 minutes) and the most number of summits (a stunning 11 times) and have also paid the dearest price of all. Of the 175 lives lost on Everest expeditions, 56 have been Sherpas. For full Everest and other mountaineering documentaries, see my playlist here:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: