Sherpa – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

March 29, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
Read on for article

It should be peaceful at Base Camp, Mount Everest with all that  clean air, dazzling white snow and towering peaks. But in the short climbing season, it is so crowded up there, it’s more like Bondi Beach on Boxing Day, but with parkas.

I have never fancied it but for those who have spent many thousands of dollars to make the ascent, it can prove a difficult dream to fulfil.

As the title indicates, Sherpa is not about the climbers but the Himalayan men whose job it is to prepare the way to the summit . A hot towel and a cup of tea in the morning is fine for the visitors but hauling all the gear up to the next stage is done by Sherpas and very dangerous work it is too.

In 2013 there were news reports of brawls on the mountain as Sherpas became angry at European climbers.  Director Jennifer Peedom’s intention was to uncover the cause of that altercation and to film the 2014 climbing season from the Sherpas’ point of view.

Instead, she and her crew captured the tragic result when a 14,000 ton of ice crashed down onto the climbing route, killing 16 Sherpas.   She records the aftermath of the avalanche and the growing agitation of Sherpas as they become reluctant to make the climb out of respect to their fallen comrades, especially those whose bodies could not be recovered. But if they don’t climb the mountain, they won’t get paid.

Mount Everest –  Chomolungma  – is a holy place to BuddhistsReaching the peak is regarded as disrespectful and many prayers have to be made before a climb. For those who live near the mountain, it is a chance to earn much more than the norm and ice tourism is a huge source of revenue for Nepal.    Through social media, Sherpas have gained a growing awareness how their very necessary input is undervalued by returned climbers.

Peedom highlights the unequal relationship between the foreigners and the Sherpas as the situation becomes volatile.   Phurba Tashi Sherpa was about to make his 22nd ascent to the famous peak and set a record for the most number of climbs.   His family preferred that he didn’t do it any more even though it would mean a serious loss of income.

As we marvel at the scenery, expedition leaders, climbers and Sherpas talk frankly and it is left to the viewer to judge the issues of conquering Everest.

4/5  Rated M 2015 Released March 30  96mins

Directed by Jennifer Peedom

In English and subtitles

Cinematographer Renan Ozturk

 

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