K2 is the second highest peak on Earth, and widely regarded as the most dangerous mountain to attempt to climb. On average, for every four people who manage to reach the top, one of them will die upon descent. In August 2008, a team of twenty-four experience climbers from a range of nationalities decide to team-up in order to conquer the mountain with as few casualties as possible. Forty-eight hours later, eleven of the twenty four have been killed or have disappeared, making it the worst climbing disaster in the history of people attempting to climb K2.
Since this movie has been made by Irish production companies, at the centre of the story is Irish mountaineer Ger McDonnell. When it comes to mountain climbing, there is an unwritten rule that if someone is injured, you leave them there to die as helping them will most likely result in your own death, too. But McDonnell had a history of disobeying this rule, and when disaster struck near the peak of K2, the film-makers focus on him and his attempts to save as many fellow climbers as he could. Using a mix of talking heads, actual footage from the climb and some outstanding recreations on K2 using some of the original climbers, The Summit is a visually breath-taking documentary. It can also properly pull on your heart-strings at times, as the survivors and loved-ones of the deceased recount the hours, days, weeks and months around the time of the tragedy.
Unfortunately, the format of the movie is a woefully muddled misstep. Skipping backwards and forwards in time, getting different accounts of events from different survivors, it can be difficult to process the information when it's being delivered like a tangled mess of Christmas lights, leaving you to attempt to pick it apart later in your mind. Had they just presented it in proper chronological order, this tale of a group of men and women trying to master this mountain of madness might've been as highly regarded as fellow mountaineering disaster documentary Touching The Void. But as it stands, The Summit is a great true story that hasn't been told as well as it deserves to be.