5 reasons why you should see 'Everest'

The drama of the 1996 Everest disaster is playing out in movie theatres across the country. Hollywood has failed before to portray climbing in a realistic way in the past. Did they finally get it right?
Kristina Ciari Tursi Kristina Ciari Tursi
September 27, 2015
5 reasons why you should see 'Everest'

Based on a true story, Everest depicts the saga of two expeditions caught in a sudden storm on the world's highest peak. Full of drama and high-altitude highjinx, Hollywood has tried yet-again to portray climbing in a realistic way for a mass audience. Did they finally get it right?

The community is divided on Everest. David Roberts, a Mountaineers Books author and accomplished mountaineer, wrote a scathing review of the film. Yet others, including our own staff and members, felt like it was  an absolute must-see film. Depending on your camp, you'll find the story to be simplified and over-the-top, or you'll be swept up in the grandeur and drama of the human spirit.

Regardless of where you'll find yourself at the end of the movie, here are 5 reasons why you should see Everest:

  1. The story has 'grit'. Mt. Everest has seen it's share of tragedy in the last few years and yet people are still fascinated by the '96 disaster. In a single day, eight mountaineers perished in a storm attempting to summit, contributing to the single deadliest  season on Mt. Everest at the time. The fact that this story still resonates with audiences today shows the human fascination with the world's highest peak, particularly this story of men vs. mountain.
  2. The scenery will take your breath away. . The film's opening minutes provide sweeping views of the Himilaya, and give you an up close and personal look at the famous places you've heard and read about: Lukla, the Namche Bazzar, Base Camp, the Khumbu Icefall, the South Col, the summit. For most of us, this is the closest we'll ever get - and may ever want to get. Regardless, you'll walk away feeling like you just took a trip deep into the heart of the Himilaya. You'll gain a sense of why the Himalaya has captured man's imagination for centuries
  3. The climbing - as in real-life - is complicated. Dozens of books have been written on the topic, and no one - not even the climbers who were there - is fully clear on what happened that fateful day. This confusion is clear in the film, with the lure of the summit pushing climbers past their limits and reasonable margins of safety. As is true with most mountaineering accidents, it's not one decision that leads to tragedy, but a series of seemingly inconsequential errors that result in disaster. The lure to climb is complicated and extremely personal. Everest captures this message without passing judgement on those involved.
  4. The emotions are real. The emotional high-point of the script pulls from actual transcripts of the final phone call between Rob Hall and his wife Jan. As he lays on the side of a mountain accepting his fate,  his pregnant wife Jan - a climber herself who understands she will never see her husband again - is patched through the line. Together, they choose a name for their unborn baby girl. It's heartbreaking and intimate and incredibly touching. You have to be made of stone to be unaffected.
  5. The movie presents yet another side of the story. Maybe you've read Into Thin Air. Or you've gone a step beyond and read The Climb and Left for Dead. This story is none of those books and all of those books at the same time. The story had to be simplified, and the characters were boxed into easy-to-digest categories, but it's still a story about the human spirit and drive to fight for achievement against all odds. You'll gain something from this film if you've never climbed a mountain or if you have climbed all of the mountains.

And, for a bonus reason #6, if you look close enough you'll see an old copy of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills. You may also spot a few climbing errors. Feel free to point those out in the comments.

As if these weren't enough reasons to see Everest, here are a few personal reviews from our members.

Personal Reviews from our members: 


Everest was the best Hollywood portrayal of climbing that I’ve seen. I wasn’t there in 1996, but from what I’ve read, it was also pretty faithful to the actual events. It was perhaps a bit unfair to Scott Fischer, because it emphasized his “cowboy” aspects with the drinking, but I think the filmmakers exaggerated Scott Fischer to heighten the contrast with Rob and support their portrayal of him as a tragic hero.  I think this was a relatively minor part of the movie and you can still support the movie for its other attributes.

Eric Linxweiler

It’s hard to recount a mountaineering story that’s left such a cultural impression as did the events on Everest in 1996. The story brought mountaineering literature to the masses and wenty years later we’re still talking about it every time there’s an accident on the mountain.

One will note two key things about Everest. First, the filming is absolutely amazing. It didn’t look like it was in a sound studio – because most of it wasn’t. It was out in the cold and snow. In IMAX 3D, it’s almost too much for your eyes to take in. You’re awash in stunning scenery the entire time. The second thing of note for me was how respectfully and tactfully the director was able to bring the numerous elements of this story together. There wasn’t an antagonist, really. It was about the harsh conditions faced while climbing mountains, and that sometimes nature wins over even the most skilled and experienced mountaineers. 

Hollywood finally got Everest right.  


Stef Schiller

I thought the film was very good overall and definitely worth seeing it 3D. It has a few gratuitous dramatic stunts but I thought it was pretty true to the story and the cinematography and mountain scenes were amazing. 


A message in support of Scott Fischer

If you haven't read any of the books and this is your first introduction to what happened on Mt. Everest in '96, you should read this op-ed by Scott Fischer's wife Jeanne. You'll find yet another - and very worthy - side of this complicated story. In it she discusses the typecasting of her husband and his attributes as a climber, father, and partner. It's a valuable read, and provides yet another look at this tragic day in history.

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Vik Sahney
Vik Sahney says:
Sep 28, 2015 10:13 PM

As one of the few people that have summited Mt.Everest, I thought the film did a very good job of showing what a climbing expedition is generally like. The Hillary Step looks exactly like in the film. For anyone who is a fan of climbing, Everest, or Into thin Air I would recommend seeing the film. Don't expect it to be a documentary or to develop every character, but overall it does a great job. Meru is another very well done climbing film that takes the documentary approach.

Peter Millican
Peter Millican says:
Oct 14, 2015 04:01 PM

I applaud Universal/Working Title for breaking new ground with the new film 'EVEREST' and not sticking to the 'Into Thin Air' version of the 1996 Everest tragedy, which is maybe why this book is not in this film's Credits, something that has not gone unnoticed by some professional reviewers.

Universal/the Director referred to Jon Krakauer as 'a writer who just happened to be on the mountain at the time'. To learn more about what actually caused this seminal event you will need to read 'A Day to Die For' www.adaytodiefor.com and 'After the Wind'. Well done Working Title and Baltasar Kormakur for daring to break the mold!