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Harder Than Everest
(Doco) Aussies and Americans tag the 2nd ascent of Gasherbrum IV

Format Video  (Australian) Category Non-Fiction
Title Harder Than Everest  Mins 60 
Starring Phil Balsdon, Steve Risse, Randy Leavitt, Geoff Radford, Andy Tuthill, Tom Hargis, Greg Child, Tim Macartney-Snape  RRP $24.95 AUD 
Director Phil Balsdon, Tim Macartney-snape, Geoff Barnes  Reviews
Edition Film Australia (1986)  Ave Rating **** (4.00 of 5)


User Comments

In 1986 a bunch of Australians teamed up with some Americans to take on the 2nd ascent of the Himalayan mountain Gasherbrum IV, the peak considered by many to be a harder ascent than Everest. This film, created Australian Tim Macartney-Snape, documents their successful journey.

With 80 porters they make the 110 mile hike to base camp before launching up the famous peak without bottled oxygen or further assistance from Sherpas. They get holed up in base camp for two weeks waiting out the weather, but manage to establish a route up to Camp 3, a small snow cave high on the mountain. After weeks, or perhaps months of effort the summit party assembles, deciding to go light and fast, without tents, food or bivi gear. They make a bid for the top, but as the sun sets it becomes obvious they will either have to rapidly descend back to camp or spend a night at 26,000 feet with no gear. Three of them choose the later approach, holing up in a tiny snow cave, and freezing the long night away. In the morning fortune shines upon them and they bag the summit.

The film has a dated look, lacking a little in clarity and colour accuracy, but it certainly is not amateurish. As the opening narrative remarks, itís ďripe but realĒ. What the movie lacks in high budget production it makes up for with heart and realism. You wonít see any staged shots. The cameraman is working hard just to survive let alone film.

There arenít any technical rock or ice climbing scenes, presumably because they were too busy to film during such moments. However there's plenty of alpine style hard slogging up steep snow and ice slopes with crampons and axe shafts. Hacking out tent sites on ledges 1000ís of metres up makes exciting enough footage. The movie captures the essence of the assault, portraying the cold biting winds, the exhausting efforts, and the courage of the team. Even though many have died on the mountain before, the ascent goes well, without major accidents.

The audience is also shown snippets of post climb lectures by Tim, which give added realism to the film. The entire expedition cost only $40,000 US to get all 7 climbers up and back, a remarkable achievement. In summary, while the film may look low budget compared to well funded movies like the Everest IMAX production, it makes up for it with realism. I really enjoyed this documentary, and recommend you take a look. 

Further Reading: - Tim Macartney-Snape - Books and Videos


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