Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington and Michael Kenny play the ill-fated climbers, eight of whom perish on the mountain.
The year the movie focuses on, 1996, was the deadliest in the mountain’s history. In all, 15 people died trying to scale the icy peak. But in two decades since than, more than two dozen climbers have met a similar fate.
The 1996 death toll was surpassed by 16 fatalities from an Everest avalanche last year. Another 18 people were killed as a result of avalanches triggered by the Nepal earthquake earlier this year.
One of the outcomes of the 1996 disaster was to raise questions about the commercialization and glamorization of climbing the peak, which soars 29,029 feet into the air. Airliners typically fly at that altitude.
A new trailer for the movie pulls no punches. It shows the troupe gathering together before the climb and clearly shows that some were amateur climbers, including a postman.
“Everest is another beast all together,” says Clark’s character, climbing guide Rob Hall. “Our bodies will be literally dying.”
Complaints about over-commercialization haven’t gone away.
The mountain is now the scene of hundreds of ascents per year.
“The mountain is crowded, dirty, tense and, in the past two years, has killed more people than ever before,” according to an editorial in the Washington Post, which urged closing the mountain to climbers permanently.
Today’s climbers are “often less experienced, and less able to handle themselves in dangerous situations,” experts noted.
Some even argue that climate change has made the mountain even more dangerous by increasing the number of avalanches, the leading cause of death, according to a study by The Atlantic magazine.
But the chances of anything changing anytime soon are practically nil. The Nepalese government derives substantial tourism revenue from the tens of thousands of dollars climbers pay to make the trek, and it’s a major source of employment for Sherpa guides.
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