Everest – film review

Finally saw the $55 million Hollywood blockbuster – which has grossed $137.4 million, so far.

Everest has received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 72%, based on 178 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. …

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air, denounced the movie, stating some of its details were fabricated and defamatory. …

The widow of Scott Fischer is not happy, either.

Kraig Becker:

Hollywood has a along history of making mostly bad movies about climbing and mountaineering. …

… few films can hold a candle to Touching the Void for instance. But now, the big blockbuster production Everest is set to get a wide release in theaters this week, and if you’re looking for well made, at times harrowing, film about high altitude climbing, you certainly could do a lot worse. …

The film is based on the actual events that took place back in 1996, when one of the biggest disasters in mountaineering history took place. The story is a well known one in mountaineering circles of course, with Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air most famously telling the tale. …

… This is a film that is beautifully made, and seeing sweeping shots of Everest, and the Khumbu Valley that leads up to it, was breathtaking. …

Probably my favorite aspect of the film was Jason Clarke’s portrayal of Rob Hall. He did a great job of selling the character, and was the centerpiece of the entire movie. …

Adventure Blog – Movie Review: Everest Gets It Right – Mostly

I don’t expect Hollywood films to get EVERYTHING right. Anatoli Boukreev – for example – could barely speak English, I understood. Until this film.

I liked it even better than Kraig. (And much better than Krakauer). :-)

I must have cried for 30 minutes or more.

Alchi Circuit, Ladakh – day 3

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

About midnight I felt droplets of rain on my face. For the first time in Ladakh I got up and put the fly on the tent.

Opening the fly next morning I was surprised to see a winter wonderland.


Yet more new snow dusted the mountains.




I’d tented out of sight in these trees.


Dropping further down the valley I finally saw some people. An elderly couple bringing up their goats to graze.


water pipe insulation

water pipe insulation

It’s a nice valley, for sure. Some of the buildings impressive.


autumn colours

autumn colours


My face somewhat burned from reflected snow the previous day, the shade of the creek foliage was appreciated.



I saw some unusual Buddhist flags and scarfs en route. Like wash day at the monastery.



This is some significant Buddhist site. Unusual rock formations.



I know because a foreign tourist arrived by car to take photos. Here. On this excellent black top roadway.



A road? What?! :-(

There are no people in this valley. Yet the Indian government built a road up this valley?

I’d planned two more nights on the Alchi circuit. But right here I decided my trek was over. I don’t hike roads.

Then – despite my protestations – I proceeded to hike the road all the way down to Sumdha Do.




Mountain people want roads and electricity. Both degrade the hiking experience.

AND it’s nearly impossible to maintain these roads. Washouts, rock slides and collapse are non-stop.


At Sumdha Do I had trouble finding out how to escape. Indians feel it’s polite to give strangers an answer, even if it’s incorrect. Finally I collected 3 independent answers that concurred.

This was the road heading in the direction of Leh.


It was 21km to Nimmu village on the main highway.


Would I have to walk it?

NOPE. :-)

The second vehicle to pass picked me up. An Indian Army jeep.


They dropped me – after a rough ride – at the highway crossroads. The second vehicle to pass picked me up. Turned out it was a jammed, shared taxi. For $2 it delivered me back to Leh by 1pm.


After a hot shower I was just in time for the closing ceremonies of the annual Ladakh festival. Speeches. Ethnic music and dancing.


I didn’t last long. I headed, instead, to the excellent Leh Ling Cafe & Bookstore for Chai.



See all the high resolution photos from this day.

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

Alchi Circuit, Ladakh – day 2

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

When you sleep under the net and stars, you wake at first light.



In no rush, I enjoyed 3 pots of coffee while waiting for the sun to reach my tent.



Time to GO.


Up. Up. Up.


As I drew closer the crossing got increasingly more serious looking.


Entering this valley, the trail disappeared beneath the snow.


I was at the same altitude as the snow line on the other side of the Indus.


Luckily, the weather was perfect.


Which notch on the skyline is the pass?


Normally I’d be able to find the route by following cairns.


Sadly, there were very, very few cairns. Mostly I made up my own route. The new snow got thicker and thicker.



I was the second visitor here since the snow fell.


As the morning warmed-up, snow got softer. At the top there were sections of exposure.

The slope got steeper. Finally – pissed off – I dropped my pack and climbed up the slippery, frustrating slope without it.


Happy. Happy. I finally saw the prayer flags of Stakspi La 5177m (16985ft).


Thanks the Gods. The other side was an easy descent, in comparison. I’d feared it would be as snowy and slippery as the ascent side.


It was an 15 excited minutes down. 35 very motivated minutes back up with the pack. (The alternative – having to retreat on that soft snow could have been disastrous.)


Even better, the downhill was a soft scree slope. Fun. And very easy on the knees and feet.



Very quickly I was at the valley bottom looking back at the Pass.


Already I’d concluded to NOT recommend this route on my hiking site. It’s far too dangerous. And it was obvious that very few people ever cross it.

I’d not taken the time to melt snow so had very little water left at this point.

I could see small springs up high on the slopes, but was watching closely for the start of water in the main valley. And for good camp spots. I was exhausted.

I spotted one possibility.


Then 2 snow leopards resting next door! There may be as few as 7000 left in the wild.

One took flight instantly. And was gone.

The other stayed. And stared me down. I franticly fired up my camera into video mode.

screen grab from video

screen grab from video

Eventually the second took off after the first, both disappearing into some scrub trees on the mountain slope.

I hung around for another 30 minutes, hoping to see them again. But I believe both stayed in the trees motionless. Watching me.

Needless to say, I didn’t camp there. I moved on down the valley.


About 15 minutes later I found out why the snow leopards were so close to a human trail. They were on the hunt. This is their favourite prey – Blue Sheep.



Why were these sheep so far from the protection of a rocky wall? I could only guess they’d come down for an evening drink of water.

Not much further down I found a protected, hidden spot by the finally running water. And crashed early.


It had been a rough day.

But seeing snow leopards definitely made up for my suffering on the ascent. The Snow Leopard (1978) by Peter Matthiessen is one of my favourite books. In it George Schaller and Matthiessen search for Himalayan blue sheep and Snow Leopard. Schaller eventually spots a snow leopard, but Matthiessen does not.

See all the high resolution photos from this day.

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

Alchi Circuit, Ladakh – day 1

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

After 2 days rain delay, the morning dawned lovely in Leh.



First stop was the outdoor bakery near the main Mosque.



I picked up 10 flat bread for less than $1. My hiking lunches. With peanut butter. :-)

At the NEW Bus Station I found the (unmarked) 8am bus to Alchi, about 70km away. It was packed.


Alchi Monastery or Alchi Gompa … is said to be the oldest and most famous. …

The monastery complex was built, according to local tradition, by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo between 958 and 1055. However, inscriptions in the preserved monuments ascribe it to a Tibetan noble called Kal-dan Shes-rab later in the 11th century …

The artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir are reflected in the wall paintings … These are some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh. …



I made the Kora. Let’s hope my hike goes well.


My last meal.


The Italian woman who joined me at the tiny restaurant in Alchi square was hospitalized in Leh the day before. Altitude sickness. She was given 2 shots and 3 different pills!


The restaurant owner pointed me in the right direction at 11am. Wandering though local fields.



I was at an altitude of 3,100m (10,200ft). And needed to climb at least 2km vertical!

Here’s the one and only lizard I saw on the trip. He stayed behind in the sun.


It’s an easy start. Winding up a Himalayan valley.



Still, I was worried. I’d need to cross a huge, difficult pass, about the same height as I could see on the other side of the Indus valley.


Higher and higher.




Up a side valley I spotted Blue Sheep. Here’s the herd at 32x zoom.


That oasis across the Indus is the famed Buddhist temple Likir.


I set up my tent at the last possible site, the highest shepard shelter. My guidebook called it Stakspi La Base Camp. It was 3:30pm.


In the bright Tibetan sunlight, the autumn colours were lovely.



My goal for tomorrow is climbing up and over this 5000m+ wall.




See all the high resolution photos from this day.

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

Alchi Circuit, Ladakh – day 0

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended

I’d finished the famed Markah Valley trek in 7 days.

What next?

My hiking guidebook by Kucharski detailed a nearby alternative called Alchi – A circuit over five passes.

Alchi trek map

“… less popular and slightly harder than Markha …”

Sounded good to me.

The trailhead is famed Alchi monastery, about 70km from Leh.

Fit and ready to go, my start was delayed 2 days by … rain.

Rain? It never rains in Ladakh. :-(

day 0 | day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | not recommended