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Watch: Sundance Documentary 'The Summit' Looks at 'Deadliest Day in Modern Mountain Climbing History'

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 17, 2013 at 12:18PM

Check out this clip for Nick Ryan's documentary "The Summit," premiering at Sundance on January 18. The film chronicles "the deadliest day in modern mountain climbing history," a still-unresolved 2008 expedition in which 18 of 24 climbers reached the summit of K2. In 48 hours time...
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"The Summit"
"The Summit"

Check out this clip for Nick Ryan's documentary "The Summit," premiering at Sundance on January 18. The film chronicles "the deadliest day in modern mountain climbing history," a still-unresolved 2008 expedition in which 18 of 24 climbers reached the summit of K2. In 48 hours time, 11 of the climbers had either been killed or disappeared into thin air.

The film is produced by John Battsek ("Searching for Sugarman," "The Imposter") and written by Mark Monroe ("The Cove"). This is director Ryan's first feature-length film.

From the Sundance programming notes:

Although K2 is only the second-highest peak in the world, it is renowned as the most dangerous and revered by mountaineers as their ultimate challenge. In August 2008, 18 of 24 climbers reached the summit of K2. Forty-eight hours later, 11 people were dead. What happened on that fateful day has never been resolved.

Utilizing found footage, interviews with survivors, and seamlessly realistic reenactments, The Summit zigzags back and forth in time, interweaving multiple narrative threads and piecing together events, hoping to solve the mystery of what actually happened on that day—the deadliest in mountain-climbing history. At the heart of the mystery is the story of Ger McDonnell, one extraordinary man who chose to risk his own life to save others. With the help of breathtaking cinematography by Robbie Ryan and Stephen O’Reilly, director Nick Ryan creates a tension-filled, experiential film that will have viewers on the edge of their seats. The Summit pits Man against Mother Nature in her most majestic and terrifying extreme.

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Trailers, Video, Video, Festivals


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.