The Summit @ The Ross

K2, The Summit

K2, The Summit

K2. The Summit. We all know of the majesty of Mount Everest. It is the highest mountain on earth. K2, its sibling is the second highest mountain on earth. It is located in the Baltistan region of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. It is a jagged, steep slope with a wall of ice called a serac, that would make you beg for its mercy as you climb. Yes, K2 demands respect, even reverence, but this mountain claims one in four mountain climbers who attempt to scale its walls. On August 1, 2008, K2 claimed the lives of eleven ambitious and experienced mountain climbers when an avalanche up rooted the fixed ropes installed to lead climbers as they descended the summit. Documentary filmmaker Nick Ryan explores the cause of these deaths in The Summit, his documentary about what is called the “deadliest day on the world’s most dangerous mountain.” The Summit is a terrifying reenactment of this expedition.

Gerard McDonnell, one of the casualties of The Summit

Gerard McDonnell, one of the casualties of The Summit

Ryan evokes a harrowing vulnerability within a frigid universe that is out there in the white of snow that hugs tightly to black mountains. Mountaineers whose bodies are packed into down parkas and other gear sleep—sleep?–in tents as a snow storm rages against the mountain; and it is night. Someone’s tent and all of his gear have been swept down the slope. He is open to the elements. Who will take him in? The rule is to “walk on by” climbers who are injured or on the brink of death. To help means not only a missed opportunity to reach the summit or the next camp base in time; to reach out and touch anybody on the trek could mean your own death.

The Summit is an excellent re-telling of events, and it is heartbreaking as each bio-sketch unfolds about the 11 courageous men who did not make it.

The Summit plays through November 7 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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