In summer nearly fifty years ago, I climbed to up the snow-clad slopes of 14,410-foot high Mount Rainier south of my hometown of Seattle.
The plan: Reach 10,000 feet above sea level, then in the company of one of my college fraternity brothers, ski back down over 4,500 feet to Paradise Inn where we had started out that morning.
Reality: Climbing steep, slushy slopes carrying skis over your shoulder is no easy feat. Long before we attained that nearly two-mile high elevation, fatigue, and discretion (the better part of valor), forced us to give up the climb and schuss back down-slope.
But how does that experience relate to one of the most visually astonishing documentary films that I have ever seen and which could be awarded a coveted gold “Oscar” statuette at the upcoming academy awards.
Plenty, as it turns out.
In 2008, three climbers set out for the headwaters of the Ganges River in Northern India. They intended to do something all others had failed to accomplish: Summit the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, a peak half-again as tall as Mount Rainer.
After 20 days of climbing, like I had in my quest on Rainier, they appeared to figuratively throw in the ice axe, a mere 100 meters from the top.
But they only conceded defeat temporarily.
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, each said “I’ll be back!”
To find out whether they ultimately succeeded, you must watch Meru, the documentary film they made about their personal and mountaineering journeys. It is one of fifteen documentaries that are up for nomination for best such film from 2015.
Here’s the trailer.
(In the early 1970s, Tales Told From The Road publisher, Dick Jordan, hiked to the top of two California mountains, Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Mount Tallac at Lake Tahoe. His first documentary film, “Cuba, Libre,” about the history of travel to Cuba by Americans from the early decades of the 20th century to the present, premieres tonight on public access television station, MarinTV. You can watch it on the Tales Told From The Road YouTube Channel.)