The Summit

The Summit is a 2012 documentary film about the 2008 K2 disaster directed by Nick Ryan. It combines documentary footage with dramatized recreations of the events of the 2008 K2 disaster. On the way to and from the summit, eleven climbers died during a short time span creating one of the worst catastophes in climbing history. Much of the documentary footage was captured by Swedish mountaineer Fredrik Sträng. Sträng was planning to do a Documentary which was aborted due to the fact that he did not reach the summit. The footage was still valuable to help solving what really did happen since all the climbers had different stories about what happened.

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  • ★★★½ review by Owen Hughes on Letterboxd

    Having only finished watching The Summit (or K2: The Killer Summit as it's called on Storyville) yesterday, I'm still trying to digest certain parts of the documentary but one thing is for certain, this Sundance and London Film Festival nominated documentary is an incredible story.

    The only thing that lets it down slightly is how garbled some of the actual storytelling is. I'm not convinced mixing fake footage with the real thing actually worked 100% of the time. There are definitely times where re-enactments do generate a dramatic tension, but the actual method of it all being put together is quite jarring. Trying to follow the events in a traditional narrative method was perhaps my problem rather than the documentary's as I got lost quite early on. I couldn't follow the events in a chronological sequence as bits started to not make sense. Took a little while for me to cotton on that things aren't being presented in an a-z format.

    However, as I said, I found it tremendously nerve-racking, I can only imagine how dire the situation would have been for those climbers who unfortunately lost their lives trying to climb one of the worlds most notorious mountains.

  • ★★★½ review by Taylor Genovese on Letterboxd

    I remember reading about this incident when it happened in 2008 and being horrified that that many climbers could die in such a short period of time.

    This film is an interesting take. It uses interviews with survivors while incorporating reenactments that are shot to look like they are found footage. Although this does give a degree of suspense, it also seems a little disrespectful to the victims of K2. This disrespect is furthered as the film progresses and mixes both reenactments with actual photos/video without differentiating between the two.

    The narrative also seems like it was arranged by someone with ADD. It begins fine but as the film progresses, it bounces all over the place in terms of chronology.

    However, despite all of this, the film held my attention and I actually did enjoy watching it. Maybe it is because I can't get enough of mountaineering documentaries and there aren't that many to choose from. The film also focuses heavily on exonerating Ger McDonnell's name after Marco Confortola gave the account that while attempting to help three hurt Koreans, McDonnell went mad and began to climb the mountain again. The film gives evidence that this is not the case and McDonnell actually climbed up to release the anchor the Koreans were caught on and he was helping them descend before they all perished in a serac fall or avalanche. This is, of course, all speculation since Confortola is the only survivor of the events, but it makes the film more interesting.

  • ★★★★ review by Ashley Wells on Letterboxd

    I have a lot of thoughts about mountain climbing and mountaineering disasters, most of which can be summed up as: NOOO NEVER EVER EVER.

  • ★★★½ review by 𝕸𝖆𝖗𝖎𝖆𝖓𝖓𝖆 𝕹𝖊𝖆𝖑 on Letterboxd

    "For every four climbers who set out to conquer K2, one will die trying"

    This is an incredible and terrifying story, and The Summit is definitely worth watching. There were a couple of things in this documentary that were bugging me though. The first one is the reenactment mixed in with actual footage - it's very obvious when the footage is fake, and though it works occasionally, most of the time it really took me out of the documentary. The second is the non-linear storytelling - I wish all of the backstory was done at the beginning instead of constantly interrupting the narrative.

  • ★★★½ review by Squishybaff on Letterboxd

    K-2? More like K-do not climb that mountain am I right ladies?

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