The Best Everest Climbing Movies of All Time
Attempts to climb Mount Everest (often on the backs of local Sherpas) have been going on for nearly a century. When the British made their first attempt in 1922, seven Sherpa climbers perished. In 1953, Englishman Edmund Hillary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Upon their return to England, Hillary and her expedition leader John Hunt were both knighted. Norgay, a Swiss climber who came close to reaching the top the year before, was not.
There have been approximately 300 deaths on Mount Everest since the first attempt in 1922. About a third of those who die are local Sherpas, and thirteen of those deaths are Americans, who make up the majority of those who attempt to scale Mount Everest’s summit. These “solo” explorers who risk their lives to conquer nature have been found to owe much of their success to Sherpa labor in recent years.
This shift in image of Everest ascents is mirrored in film, with new documentaries like Sherpa highlighting how families rely on the climb—the most perilous work on Earth–to support themselves. No longer are the climbers portrayed as the protagonists of this story.
Despite its social and political injustices, the ascension remains one of the greatest achievements in human history. Here are the finest, worst, and most exploitative movies about Everest.
1. The Epic of Everest (1924)
The globe was enamored with Everest just about twenty years before it was even conquered. The Epic of Everest (1924) tells the narrative of the Everest expedition that year, the second official attempt to reach the peak in history (don’t worry, it’s been remastered).
2. The Wildest Dream (2010)
Conrad Anker, the American climber who discovered the body of British mountaineer George Mallory in 1924, is the focus of The Wildest Dream. Mallory’s extraordinary existence is framed by Anker’s return to the scene of her disappearance ten years after her body was found.
3. The Conquest of Everest (1953)
Following the 1953 John Hunt expedition, the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, British filmmakers captured the adventure. One of humanity’s greatest achievements is captured on film in this film.
4. Beyond the Edge (2013)
In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay became the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest.
5. The Climbers (2019)
The Climbers chronicles two generations of Chinese mountaineers, one in 1960 and the other in 1975, who each attempted to reach the summit of Everest. The treacherous north side of the mountain was their route.
6. The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975)
An alpine skier named Yichiro Miura made the first successful ascent and descent of Mt. Everest in 1970. Documentary Feature Oscar went to this film.
7. Everest (1998)
The story is based on a 1996 expedition that was marred by the tragic death of eight climbers from another team on the summit during filming. Even though it was not the center of this IMAX production, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air would subsequently be based on that occurrence. Rather than the adaption, we encourage you watch this version.)
8. Everest (2015)
It is set in 1996, during the time of the disaster, and focuses on the terrible deaths of New Zealander Robert Edwin Hall and American Scott Fischer on Everest.
9. Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (1997)
In spite of its clunky adaptation, the film offers a new perspective on the sad events of the 1996 Everest expedition. Having some fact-checking materials on hand might help.
10. The Himalayas (2015)
With Um Hong-gil as its inspiration, the film follows the life of a South Korean mountaineer who reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2007 and mentored two novice climbers.
11. Poorna: Courage Has No Limit (2017)
This is the narrative of Malavath Purna, a Nepalese mountaineer who became the world’s youngest female Everest climber in 2014. An incredible tale, eloquently expressed in a few simple sentences.
12. Sherpa (2015)
In terms of Everest mortality, it was the deadliest day ever. On April 18, 2014, an avalanche claimed the lives of sixteen Sherpa mountaineers. On the day of the catastrophe, the Sherpa community was shaken, and the tragedy’s criticism of western climbers who rely on the work of others was laid bare.
13. Mountain (2017)
Mountain is more of a cinematic essay than a documentarian. Australian Chamber Orchestra and director Jennifer Peedom collaborated on the film, which pays tribute to the human need for height. Make use of your largest television.