Film review: The Man Who Skied Down Everest

The film was made back in 1976, and won an Academy Award for best documentary. It has recently been re-released.

This film details a 1970 expedition led by Yuichiro Miura, a Japanese speed skier and poet. His goal was to ascend Mt. Everest to the lower end of the South Col, at the edge of the “death zone,” then ski down a mile and a half of sheer ice, rock and snow covered slope on the Southwest Face of Mt. Everest, near the South Pillar route. (this particular diagram, though otherwise excellent, suggests that Miura skied down the Lhotse Face, which, as can be clearly seen in the film, is incorrect.)
This is probably the granddaddy of all “extreme” sports films, both in terms of its pioneering effort in the field, the quality of the film, and the outlandish nature and outcome of the expedition. When you see it, notice that at base camp, there are no other expeditions; this was really a long time ago, 15 years before the advent of commercial climbs of Everest. And try to forget all the “hair” skiing films that you’ve ever seen; this was really the first of the crazies.

It is a beautiful and, at the same time, a shockingly horrible film.

You shouldn’t miss this, regardless of your views on film, extreme sports, etc. Some knowledge of Mt. Everest expeditions might enhance your experience, but isn’t really necessary. It is truly amazing. I guarantee you will talk about this one for years, whether you want to or not.

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Filed under Movies, Outdoors, sports

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