At Everest base camp at night, if you try and sleep, you will awake breathless every few minutes. You feel as if you are drowning, which in a sense, you are. Base camp is at a modest 18,000 feet. The summit of the highest mountain on the planet still lies 11,000 feet above you.

In 1953 no one knew whether a human being could reach the roof of the world and survive. Thirteen men had already died in unsuccessful expeditions. Enter a British team which included a humble New Zealand beekeeper, Edmund Hillary, and a member of the Nepalese Sherpa people, Tensing Norgay, a veteran of five attempts on Everest. It was probably the last ‘British’ chance to be the first to make it to the top. A Swiss team had almost succeeded in 1952 and a number of resourceful and resource-rich American climbers were ready to take on the awe-inspiring Chomolungma.

Beyond the Edge, in its clever mix of actuality and dramatization, captures both the extraordinary beauty of the high Himalayas and the peerless achievement of Hillary, Tenzing and the team led by John Hunt.

Myles Dungan