The Summit (2012) Movie Script

I think people are
interested in trying to know
what actually happened
to our minds.
8,000 meter,
you're in the death zone.
There is a struggle.
There is a fight
in every breath,
in every thought.
Everything hurts.
Every limb,
every cell is screaming,
"Oxygen, oxygen, oxygen."
You don't feel the cold anymore.
Time seems to stand still.
There's so many reasons
to turn around
and only a couple of reasons
to continue.
In one hand,
people question us
climbing a mountain like K2.
In the other hand,
they're upset
why people don't go up
and rescue people
in this dreadful environment.
Where you likely will be killed
by doing so.
There will be things
we never will know,
but the question
you should ask yourself.
"What would you do?"
Mind you, K2 climbers, huh?
This is unbelievable.
There's Nanga.
Nanga. Nanga.
Nanga Parbat.
- Yeah.
- Oh, my God.
And then we'll show you K2,
your destination, okay?
We're on our way in.
- Up there.
- Yeah?
You're gonna have to run this bit
'cause there's rockfall.
Yeah, they've been running it.
Go. Go. Go.
It's good to be back here,
and it's nice to wake up
to this sight this morning.
It's my belief that everybody
has the love of climbing.
You know, the first thing
a child Wants to do
is climb something.
The art of rock climbing
is relearning
what you knew intuitively
as a child.
You get such a big respect
for this mountain
and all the climbers
who did it before you.
If you want to have a nice story
on the birthday parties,
you know, you climb Everest,
but K2 is really, I think,
for the real mountaineers.
- Hello!
- Hello.
How are you?
Pretty good view, I reckon.
I think it's pretty hard
to beat, actually.
There is quite different
between people from Himalaya
and from Western world.
It's quite different,
because the Western people,
they are more adventurer.
They love more adventure.
Our people also like adventure,
but they love climbing.
Where are we?
Oh, we are now climbing K2.
All right.
The first man to climb K2
was from my valley,
Achille Compagnoni.
So K2 is our mountain.
Everything is raw.
It's glaciers.
It's black mountains.
It fills you with respect.
K2 is absolutely the king.
The higher it gets,
the more interesting it gets.
So when it comes to climbing
8,000-meter peaks,
you want to do it,
but at the same time,
you have this fear.
This is serious.
This is for real.
If you make one step wrong,
you're history.
Finally here.
Such a relief.
Fantastic job.
Good job.
Let's get the tents up,
the stoves going,
and prepare for tonight.
For three months,
we were on this expedition,
so when we reached Camp Four,
it was already a magic moment.
The whole Earth is beside you.
And then you look behind you.
You see another mountain.
And that's K2.
It's a mountain on a mountain.
Ger was coming.
I was filming.
I was asking Ger,
"How are you feeling?"
And, you know,
he was almost crying.
Ah, so happy to be here,
I could almost cry.
'06, we failed to get here.
Here we are now,
and it's wonderful.
You could hear his voice, you know.
"It's something what we
already achieved," you know?
"It's already something."
That's what he said.
We had a brilliant night.
There were no clouds.
There was nothing.
And then we went to the summit.
- Are you afraid?
- No.
- No?
- I am.
- No.
- I'm scared to death.
It felt, overall, like...
like this was our day.
So we moved up
along the slopes above Four.
Fred and I started out
a little more slowly.
Both of us felt really strong,
very positive.
There were perfect conditions.
I mean, we're talking about
a day in a million.
There wasn't a day like this
that I can remember,
because it was warm.
Starting to get light enough
to see the route up ahead.
And I'm looking up,
seeing a tightly spaced group
of climbers
moving extremely slowly.
They're not moving.
What are they doing?
We are way back in time.
We are really late.
I don't know what the fuck
we're gonna do.
Very disappointing.
I was so devastated.
You put in so much effort
for months,
and then you just realize
that there is no way
that we're gonna be able
to summit
and come back down in daylight.
We just went down.
It was simple as that.
Everybody thinks that
coming down is the easy bit.
It makes sense,
but don't believe it
for one minute.
I went up in '54 for my country,
for Italy.
At the time,
it seems like suicide.
No one knew what would happen
to a human body or mind
at that altitude.
They tested us
in a ridiculous manner
for months.
I didn't care.
Of the 11 climbers
chosen for the K2 expedition,
I, Walter Bonatti,
was the youngest.
I should have died on K2.
But the thing that was
to affect me most profoundly
was after the climb.
It was the story.
Many of the other climbers
there had been on Everest
or other...
other 8,000-ers before K2.
I hadn't been higher than 6,200.
I just wanted to come along
to see how high I could get.
When we finally got
to the bottleneck,
there's actually a-
a traffic jam.
The serac was the main danger.
It's probably
almost 100 meters high,
slightly overhanging.
And it could crack any time.
This very, very delicate place
is notorious.
Ice can drop at any time.
It's a Russian roulette.
That's what it is.
The main tactic to avoid
the dangers of the serac
is to be fast,
to minimize the time
when you're exposed to it.
It was not with a good feeling,
waiting there.
We had a lot of respect
for the serac, yeah.
We knew that that was a...
A little monster up there.
I put the ice screws in...
You've got a lot of people
coming behind
with all the weight
that's on the rope,
that's pulling on the screws.
Well, that was a worry.
Above 8,000,
you can only trust yourself.
We wanted to traverse
out to the right
to have a rest
outside of the fixed ropes.
It's exhausting
to be in a queue to wait.
You can't climb
in your own pace.
Several others
also wanted to wait there
until people had passed.
The bigger the chain,
the bigger the chance
that there is somebody
in this chain
who is, you know,
making a mistake.
Dren, he unclipped his rope
and tried to pass me.
We were all shocked
when he fell,
but when he stopped,
he stood up and waved.
So we thought he was fine.
He's standing up.
He's okay.
But then we saw him
falling again
and sliding further down.
Yeah, right there at the edge.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- What's happening?
- What do you see?
Yeah, Chhiring,
this is Eric, Camp Four, over.
I picked up my camera,
and I zoomed in,
trying to find him, locate him.
How can someone fall
at this perfect day?
No wind. It's bright.
It's great.
How is it possible?
Chhiring, I understood
that you and Pemba are climbing.
Are you in the lead,
and has there been an accident?
Is he in the rock?
He's here.
There is the rock.
- Yeah.
- Down.
- Yeah.
- Down this.
- Yeah.
- Chhiring says he's moving.
He's still alive.
We have to do something.
Is everybody coming down?
Ask the question.
Chhiring, do you know if...
if everyone
is coming down at this point?
Of course, we had a discussion.
Should we turn around,
you know, to try to help?
We talked about it,
and then we said,
"Listen. The Serbian guys are going down."
"We know the Americans
are there, you know."
"I think it doesn't make sense,
you know, to go down."
There is a not big conversation
each other about the accident.
After three, four minutes,
they start climbing again.
I was like,
"I'm gonna save this guy."
"I'm gonna save him."
"There's no way he's gonna die,"
"not this day, no way."
"It's not gonna happen."
I just shoot up.
He hit on the rock,
lose control,
keep falling
for 200 more meters,
and stopped.
And then I started coming down.
There were maybe two guys
below me,
so I came down pretty fast,
maybe 'IO minutes.
He was wrapped in rope
and just giving no signs
of life.
Already very pale and gray,
cuts on the head,
black nose, broken,
blood from mouth.
- Finish.
- Totally finished, almost.
If I knew that Dren was dead,
I would not have gone up.
The Serbians,
they want to take him
down to base camp.
I said that that's impossible.
"What we can do is that we can"
"at least bring him
down to Camp Four"
"and give him
a proper burial there."
Honestly, what's the point
of lowering a body
from 8,150 meters to 7,800?
8,000 meter,
you're in the death zone.
Every step is a burden.
But when you have a dead body,
it's a hell of a load.
Okay, we have to go down
like this, guys.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah.
- Whoop.
You have to stay not so close.
If you do fall,
you release, okay?
it's our lives too, okay?
- Yeah, yeah.
- Remember.
Jehan Baig, from Pakistan,
suddenly started acting
really weird.
He's coming down
on my right side,
holding onto the rope,
which goes around my lower legs,
and we are crying out...
Release the rope!
Release the rope!
He did not make one single move
to stop his fall.
Jesus Christ.
Instead, he just let go,
and he shoots off like a rocket
straight out to the open air
and just disappears.
Oh, K2,
it was full of surprises.
The conquest in '54
was much more complicated
than we
could ever have imagined.
But believe me,
we came prepared.
We were 11 climbers.
With us, 13 Hunzas
and a battalion of Balti,
the humble,
extraordinary local porters.
After endless months
of preparation,
it began with a fantastic march
to the foot of the peak
through an exotic,
timeless landscape.
We laid siege to the mountain
for two grueling months.
We established base camp
and then started building camps
all the way up the mountain,
acclimatizing our bodies
to the altitude,
the unknown,
preparing ourselves
for the summit attempt-
anything to help us survive.
In memory of Art Gilkey,
Dudley Wolfe, Pasang Kitar.
1954. Unbelievable.
There are many people
who just died on their way down
from the summit.
Dying on... died on descent.
Almost on everyone
you can read it,
"Died on descent."
Here's the original cross.
Everybody saying,
all Western people,
even our Sherpa community,
they say to me,
"Why are you going on K2?"
"Because it is too dangerous"
"and the accident rate
is too high."
"Why you are going there?"
If you climb on K2,
you have to trust each other.
Fully for 200%.
Gerard said, "Hey, listen."
"It would be lovely
if I can bring Pemba."
And Pemba is a Sherpa,
but a lot of people
are thinking about a Sherpa
that he's just an ordinary guy
who is bringing up stuff
up the mountain.
But Pemba was a really...
a different guy, you know?
He was a professional climber
like we were.
You had a good trip, Pemba?
Yeah, yeah.
- Fantastic.
- What's your question?
Do we have
boil-in-the-bag rice?
Take care of it.
You know, yeah,
it's the one thing
that I'm concerned about
is that Pemba
mightn't be too used
to freeze-dried food.
Oh, no, but we have
the original rice too.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
I found a good companion
in Gerard.
He was a climber who had
the same ambitions as me.
Then you are pushing the limits,
you know, higher and, yeah,
and then it ends up
in the Himalaya.
- Hey.
- Whoo!
Ger was a very qualified climber,
and next to that,
he is a very social boy,
more-more social
then the average climber.
The most important thing
for all of these expeditions
is to have a good time
and have a good laugh
with your friends.
Thank you.
There's two people
I've met in my life
who could walk in a room
and fundamentally change
the energy in a room,
and Ger McDonnell
was one of them.
He did lots of things,
and he did it 150%,
anything he chose to do.
I had my sights set
on climbing Denali,
and Denali
is the tallest mountain
in North America.
I was curious how I would react
to the altitude.
Me and Mike up at top.
Minus 20.
Denali had
that kind of certain mystic,
magical power over Ger.
That was the start of the-
the big boys,
the big climbs.
2003, I was the expedition leader
on Mount Everest.
We had a small team.
Ger, he had a huge passion,
and he burst full of energy.
My Ireland.
He knew how dangerous,
actually, mountaineering was.
He knew over 8,000 meters,
it's not called "death zone"
for nothing.
Every blood cell in your body
is being deprived of oxygen,
which numbs your brain cells.
Making logical decisions
become harder.
The longer that you're
up at high altitude,
the more prone you are
to your whole body
disintegrating from inside.
It creates mucus.
It creates fluids.
It actually starts to swell
the brain, the lungs,
till, eventually,
you won't survive.
Within high-altitude
there is an unwritten code.
If it's a case
that someone is dying,
and you know you're gonna put
your own life at risk,
you should leave them.
This 8,000-meter stuff
was alien to me at this point,
so I was just following
direction, you know.
Descending, Pat was in a bad way
and seemed to be moving
exceptionally slowly
and stopping to rest.
And when I saw the look
on Pat's face...
ah, shit.
I was getting pulmonary edema,
cerebral edema, thrombosis.
I was being deprived of oxygen,
and I started to die.
There was... there was no energy there.
And more than a lack of energy,
actually, I think
there was an awareness
of a lack of energy,
and I think there was
also a knowledge
that he knew that himself
that he was in trouble.
Pemba Gyalje
and, in particular, Ger
were the people
that were encouraging me down.
If my team members
hadn't helped on that day,
I may very well myself
be encrusted onto the rocks
of Mount Everest for eternity,
never to come back home
to see my family.
They say
that the most important thing
when you go climbing
will be to select
a good climbing partner
or somebody
that you're compatible with.
I've been... I've been lucky,
you know, really.
There's Speedy Gonzales,
Mr. Pemba Gyalje.
Pemba was the one person
Ger wanted to climb K2 with,
and they talked about it
for years and years.
He loved mountaineering.
He knew he could do it.
He loved that mountain.
Ger wanted to climb K2.
Is he in the rock?
do you know if everyone
is coming down at this point?
When the accident happened,
Gerard was also asking,
"Do we have time enough
to reach the summit, huh?"
"Aren't we too late?"
And Pemba said, "No, no."
"We can just reach the summit."
"There is time enough."
And then we said, "Okay."
"Then this is the decision,
to move on."
So we just moved on.
We had a big Korean team ahead.
Then you have
your Norwegian guys,
then us in the middle,
with the Spanish guy in front.
I carried on climbing.
I didn't wait.
I didn't see anyone else
until I was going down.
We were climbing,
climbing, climbing,
and then you see the first guys
reaching the summit,
and then you think,
"Please let it be the end,"
you know, because you
are really, completely,
you know, exhausted.
At the last moments,
you really live it fully.
I knew the summit
was waiting for me.
I had won it.
was kind of a mythic figure.
So I didn't see Alberto
close up at all
until I met him
when he was on his way down.
And then I asked him
how far it was.
And he said, "Yeah,
a little less than an hour."
One moment, you realize
that it is in your reach.
You're going to feel
that you're going to make it.
It's only a matter of time
to keep on going
to reach the summit.
Gerard, Gus, Pemba...
We're on the summit of K2!
Yo, yo, yo.
The light was exceptional,
brilliant, you know.
We're at the end of the Earth,
Heaven almost.
You're thinking, you know,
"This is it," you know?
"It's over. We've done it."
It is definitely a place
of extremes,
but with those extremes
comes extreme beauty.
In many ways,
those very extremes,
they're addictive.
We were all very strong.
We were normal talking.
We didn't have problems
with the altitude.
We were feeling very good.
We were having good moment
on the summit,
and now we are going down.
Marco was coming up.
He said, "Somebody
has to take pictures of me."
So I said, "Yeah, yeah,
go up, up."
"Quickly. Quickly."
It was still clear.
It wasn't dark yet.
But the sun was going down.
Then you realize,
"Fuck, we have to go down,"
you know?"
Now the surviving starts.
President McAleese
has said her thoughts
are with the family
of a County Limerick man
who is among nine climbers
missing and feared dead
in the Himalayas.
Icefall on the world's
second highest peak
that may have killed
as many as a dozen climbers.
With as many as a dozen
of them were caught out
in a collapse of an foe ledge
just beneath the summit...
Straddling the border
of Pakistan and China,
K2 is slightly smaller
than Mount Everest,
but its reputation
has always been much larger.
And another Pakistani,
a French national,
and an Austrian are missing.
They summited on the Friday,
Friday the 1st of August.
I mean, come Saturday,
just-the internet
was rife with stories.
You had the Fredrik Strang story
about 'em pulling bodies
off the mountain.
One of the climbers,
an American guy, Nick Rice,
had his blog up on the Sunday,
and he said that Ger
refused to come down
the mountain.
I mean, he said, "Refused
to come down the mountain."
Anyone that knows Ger
knew what Ger was about.
Something wasn't right.
Someone might throw
some comment out on their blog
about what they think
might be happening
or, you know,
some rumor they heard
and not realizing, like,
"Hey, we are waiting
for our loved ones."
We're hanging
on every single word
and even how it's written
to get some kind of clue
of what was going on.
Those guys
are making big stories,
even when the tragedy
is still going on,
actually, on the mountain.
So coming down,
you're a bit clumsy.
It's... it's not a matter of...
It's always the same.
The real heroes, you don't hear.
The stupid thing is,
if we would have been
successful, which we were,
because we reached the summit,
there was only
such a small piece
in the newspaper, you know?
And now,
because 11 climbers died,
it went all over the world.
Everybody wants to know
how it was possible.
What happened to us
was just a matter of misfortune,
you know?
It was such a successful story
till we went to the summit.
We were the first expedition
on the mountain.
We had a beautiful time,
because everything
was really organized.
We had good food.
We had good cooks.
Every detail
was planned and organized.
We are a very strong team
compared to other expeditions.
We were putting
all of our fixed rope-
everything we were doing
by ourself.
Bringing up those ropes
to 8,000 meter,
it's a hell of a job.
The first four till five weeks,
every day fixing the ropes
100 meter by 100 meter
by 100 meter,
and then going back
just by the rope, you know,
going down to the base camp.
Camp Two, base camp. Over.
The snow conditions
and the wind-
Weather conditions-
are also really bad for you.
And maybe ifs a good idea
to postpone the project one day.
No. Not possible.
We have to be ready in July.
We want to quit this expedition
the end of July,
because most of the accident
happened in August.
The humidity
is getting bigger, you know?
So more avalanche danger.
But we said, "Okay."
"We wants to go the end of July."
That was the plan,
and we were ahead of schedule.
And in that period,
all the other teams
were arriving,
the Koreans...
- Good luck.
- Very, very cold.
The Americans...
- It's the end of a hard day.
- Yeah.
The Serbian guys...
- Peace.
- Resting in peace?
French guys...
And the Norwegian team.
No, unfortunately not.
There's a lot
of different cultures up there,
Sherpas from Nepal,
high-altitude porters
from Pakistan.
There were different approaches
to the climbing.
The South Koreans
are the main big, like,
old-style, big expedition.
Sherpas, oxygen,
a lot of rope, and many camps.
Yeah, beautiful day.
The Norwegian expedition,
we were only four friends
on the trip
trying to climb K2.
Time to break out
the whiskey, so...
Yeah, it's a good idea.
I like whiskey.
Gerard was visiting us a lot,
and we visited them as well.
And-and Ger and Rolf
were friends.
Both were the same kind of guys.
When I met Rolf in 2003,
I felt that I met a soul mate.
In 2005, we went to K2 to try
to get to know the mountain.
We were there for 93 days.
We only got to a little higher
than Camp Three.
So this time,
I don't think we really thought
that we were gonna get
to the summit.
Of course,
you have to want that.
Otherwise, you won't make it.
But it's so much that has to be
right for it to happen.
What went wrong was the weather.
For three weeks, it was snowing,
snowing, snowing.
It was unbelievable.
80% chance of snow today.
Wind 8 kilometers
at 8,000 meters.
He was ready to come home.
He said to me,
"I can't wait
to have a good meal"
"and a glass of red wine."
You know, he just...
he was kind of ready.
It was 60-something days
by that point.
But if you get a weather window,
you take it.
The end of July,
the good weather came in,
but then everybody
wants to use this window.
So we says,
"Let's have a talk, you know,"
"and let's try to work together."
300 rope for it to make.
If you want to, more 50.
400 rope, we are fixing.
We take 400 meters.
Then the Italians got 200 meters
for the traverse.
So 600 meters is plenty enough.
Maybe we need more.
We don't need more.
600 meters
is plenty enough, I think.
No, 700 would be better.
700? Okay, Kim says 700.
We had a lot of meetings
because if we are working
together, let's be clear.
We are with a lot of people.
We share all the workloads.
And, you know, 80% chance
that we will get to the summit
without any problem.
First, leading,
second, help them,
third, making the bamboos.
The ice?
- Ice screw.
- Ice crew?
I always saw
the base camp meetings
as a vital key to success.
It was our chance
to get together
and do this as one team.
Not South Koreans, Americans,
Serbians, Dutch-
as one team.
There is only one summit team...
From every group.
The question is also,
who is climbing in front,
you know?
We said, "Listen."
"Every team gives
his strongest climber,"
"and that's
the trail-breaking party."
Two good climbers
and one, two porter...
- Okay.
- Who carry this fixed rope.
Fixed rope.
These teams
start one or two hours
before other member
from Camp Four.
- Okay.
- Got it.
We were thinking,
if the strongest team,
you know, go into this part
and fixing the ropes
through the bottleneck,
we can just follow the ropes
and go to the summit.
So it's very-
it's really safe plan.
I don't know if you're going
with the summit party...
It was obvious for me and Rolf
that this was not gonna be
as smooth as it's planned.
It seemed too easy for us.
- There's nothing to do.
- Yeah, yeah, okay.
600 meters at the peaks.
Our team's thereto, uh, more...
If you start
sharing responsibilities
with other people,
I think that in the end,
as humans we relax.
We don't really do
what we should be doing.
And K2 really demands
knowing how to do things,
giving the right answer,
having an answer for everything.
In a perfect world,
everyone is responsible
for everyone.
Only the mountain
attains perfection.
That's why you come to climb it.
They would never have tried K2
without the knowledge
and expertise of the locals.
My unlikely partner
was named Mahdi.
He was the very best
of the Hunzas.
On the eve of the summit push,
we were to take the last
of the oxygen to the final camp
and meet with the lead climbers,
Lacedelli and Compagnoni.
The names are legendary now,
the two men
who ultimately conquered K2
for the first time in history.
It could have been us with them,
Mahdi and myself.
We had agreed,
if we were strong,
we would go too,
but we never found them.
We climbed
to the point of exhaustion
to where they
were supposed to be
and began crying out for them.
As the sun disappeared,
the thin air
began to eat away at us.
As violent
as a slap in the face,
the first gust of snow
hit us head-on.
We were just thinking,
"it's just a matter"
"of, you know, an hour,
and then the wind will drop."
But it didn't drop.
It actually... it went...
it became stronger and stronger.
That was like...
Wind was go like that,
and my tent in the moment
was go up
and me with the tent.
It's impossible to even look outside the tent.
Quite critical situation.
Oh, God. God. God.
That's it. Come on.
In you go.
They put me
on the sleeping bag.
I started shaking.
I was in bad situation.
You're okay.
All right, Wilco!
Wilco, this is Ger here!
We got a situation here.
I heard Gerard
talk with the Wilco
by walkie-talkie.
"Okay, Wilco, now we
are going to bring him"
"inside your tent
because you have more space."
This is no time
for bullshitting now.
The Serbian guy...
I don't know...
but if he would have knocked
on my tent,
I would have say, "Listen."
"Go down immediately,"
"because I can't have you
in my tent now"
"because I have to rest"
"because I have to go
to the summit."
We didn't sleep all night.
Early in the morning,
Ger was a little angry.
I was not sure
whether he was angry
because of what happened with me
or because of what happened
between two of them.
I was really pissed,
so I had to make clear
that this guy
would not go with us.
And I said, "Listen.
There is just one."
"You have to go back,"
"and I don't want to see you
in that camp," you know?
For me, I don't know.
I... myself, I feel...
I don't know
how I will continue with my life
till I know to-
somebody needed my help.
Not too much-little help,
and I didn't want to give him.
A lot of guys,
they are thinking
they can climb K2
without oxygen, without ropes,
without bringing
the right stuff,
bringing the right team.
You can't climb
an 8,000-meter peak alone.
You-you didn't bring any rope.
How do you want to climb
this fucking mountain?
- It's really irresponsible.
- How did you do it 2006?
Wilco is very direct and blunt.
He'd lay his cards on the table.
There's no doubt about what
he was thinking, you know?
So I think, you know, Ger
kind of liked that about him.
Both Ger and Wilco,
they really had the summit
in their eyes.
You could see it.
The 29th of July 2006,
I got a phone call from Ger.
I can still hear him
saying it to me.
He says, "Jeez, JJ,
this is so doable."
And he said,
"I can't believe it."
He said, "It's so doable."
They were hiking up from...
I think
it was advanced base camp,
and they were gonna go up
to Camp Two on the Abruzzi.
Ger was going up,
and what people say is,
it was actually
a rock avalanche.
The phone rang.
She said to me, "There's been
an accident on K2."
And I said, "How bad?"
And she said, "Look..."
"You'll probably bring-bringing
him home in a body bag."
It was just an act of God
as such,
like, I mean, a rockfall
that caught him.
And, I mean, the helmet
he had on him at the time
probably, possibly saved
his life.
But I knew-l always knew
from that-from that night on,
I knew that he was gonna try
and do this again,
like, you know.
The bigger the dream,
the bigger the risks,
but, you know,
the dream was there.
From that moment,
I knew we are coming back,
you know,
and Ger would go with me again.
That's why,
when we reach Camp Four,
it was already a magic moment.
Ah, so happy to be here.
I could almost cry.
When you love someone
and they love doing something,
you're happy for them.
Of course,
it's a dangerous mountain.
Any mountain's
a dangerous mountain.
But he knew he could climb it,
and he knew
he could climb it safely.
And I think
he wanted to go back.
There are always things
you don't talk about
and which you don't expect,
and one thing
was that in this meeting,
the leader
of the high-altitude porters
who are making,
breaking trail,
I trust this guy completely.
Doing this...
But what happened...
He went ill.
So no leader anymore.
High-altitude porters
of the Sherpas,
they're going to fix the rope,
and the members
from the Koreans,
they're going to countercheck
the rope,
that it is affixed properly
on the mountain.
The new plan
was that a Korean leader,
you know,
he was the climbing leader
of the big Korean team-
he would check everything
in Camp Four,
but he didn't.
We have a plan.
the first party should move.
But 11:00,
Korean climbing leader
is still inside the tents,
keep smoking and smoking and...
Then finally I said, "No,
now we have to do it ourself."
So this Sherpa, Pemba,
his face, I remember
very clearly that night.
He was the kind of person
that transmitted
safety, security,
wanting to know who I was,
how I got there
in the middle of the night.
I told him, "I am climbing solo",
"and I am hoping
to go up with you."
The summit bid was delayed
because people
were wandering around like,
"Hey, where's the gear?"
"Where's the equipment?"
"Where's the rope?"
We are way back in time.
We are really late.
Very disappointing.
The high-altitude porters,
they're just starting
to fixing the ropes,
and Pemba was not
that kind of leader
who said, "Listen."
"We are going to do it
like this," you know?
I was surprised
that they were putting
fixed ropes
at areas which didn't need it.
Just, like, 10 meters
from the tents or something.
There were ropes
very, very early on.
there's no more progression,
and people
are just standing there waiting.
And they yelled back
that they'd run out of rope.
We were thinking,
"In God's sake,
how is this possible?"
The only thing you can do
is going back, cut the ropes,
and bring it up,
and that's what we did.
We were delayed with two hours,
and that's too long.
You can't catch up two hours
on a summit bid.
Even though
there were perfect conditions,
in the death zone,
you're just losing more energy.
Those people,
they are too optimistic
for the summit,
and that's why they keep climb.
They forget so many things
about safety.
People think that we're mad.
How can you continue
if someone died?
But if you drive a car,
you see people crash.
You see people die in traffic.
You keep on driving,
'cause you-
you think
it's not gonna happen to you.
I see.
Is he in the rock?
- He's here.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- The rock.
Yeah, right there at the edge.
If everybody turned back
after the Serbian people
fell down,
then I think there was only 1
casualties on the mountain
instead of 11.
How are you?
But not a great day today.
A hard day for me today.
It was not a good day.
He said, "You go."
"You feel strong.
You are strong."
"You go to there...
to the top with Lars."
And I looked back many times,
and every time I looked back
and if he was looking at me
at the same time,
he was, like, thumbs up
and like, "Keep on going."
Rolf and me,
we talk several times.
Then Rolf say,
"Now, Pemba, I want to go back"
"because these guys
are very stupid"
"because nobody
talking each other"
"about the timing."
"Really, I don't understand
the people."
- It's so hard to turn around,
and it's so easy
to just continue a little bit,
just a half an hour to see.
I could see Lars
on the summit.
He took Rolf's rabbit hat on
and danced on the summit.
We had just a few minutes-
took pictures.
Even in our most crazy dreams,
we wouldn't have dreamt it
to be that beautiful.
With that shadow of K2
into China-
absolutely beautiful.
I enjoyed the view,
but the only thing
that was in our head
was that we're not gonna stay
here for very long.
We're going back.
We have to get back to the ropes
before it gets dark.
We're on the summit of K2!
Yo, yo, yo.
Time passes by
in a very strange fashion
up there.
What may feel
like a couple of seconds
could actually be a minute
or vice versa.
You know,
it's very hard to tell.
He phoned me,
and I was lucky enough
that the connection was made.
He was elated.
He told me everybody
was feeling good,
that there was no problem.
And then...
yeah, I was just hoping
to hear from him,
you know,
five or six hours' time.
When we ready to descend,
and he's saying,
"Okay, now I don't want
to take the flags"
"camera, sat phone,"
"everything you have to carry."
And I took everything.
You know that almost all
the accidents in climbing
happen on the way down,
on the descent.
You get exhausted.
You relax.
It gets dark.
So that's a factor
that every climber know.
We caught up with Rolf
further down.
He was so happy
and congratulated us.
And we decided to descend
together, of course,
down to the fixed ropes,
slow, but efficient.
It gets dark just 15 minutes
after we get to the fixed ropes,
so we put on our head torches.
When Rolf gets there, I ask him
if he wants to go first,
or if he wants me to go first.
Do you want me to go first?
- He said, "Lars, I go first."
- No, I go first.
- "You look after my wife."
- You look after my wife.
That's the...
It's the last thing he said.
I don't know
if I heard anything,
but I felt it.
The ground
was shaking underneath me.
The last thing I saw
was Rolf's head torch moving.
And then it was dark.
You must think I'm crazy
saying this, but...
I could hear his voice.
And it was so strong.
It was, like, saying,
"You have to get down."
You're going down thinking,
"Follow the lines,
and there is Camp Four."
And in a few days,
we would have big party
with all the teams
in the base camp.
The problem is,
you are so exhausted,
and you are not
that concentrated.
And everybody is going down
in his own speed.
We reached the Korean Sherpas
and Korean team.
they come together, regroup.
We have only one option.
We put all people together
on one rope,
then try to bring down together.
We were looking
up the mountain every hour,
and we were monitoring
our radios all the time.
And we were getting
more and more anxious
about their safety.
We see these headlamps
and thinking,
"Oh, my God.
Oh, my God."
"They're not moving very fast."
"What's going on?"
We started feeling...
The Korean completely stopped.
It was impossible
to bring them down
with the same rope
because they sit down.
The whole thing
was a little bit stuck,
so it was not totally clear.
One moment, you are not walking
all together anymore,
so you are
a little bit separated,
a few meters between you.
Everybody is just descending.
We came at the point
where the fixed rope should be,
but it wasn't there.
Marco was looking.
I was searching.
But we couldn't find it.
I was convinced
that this was the right way,
but why wasn't the rope there?
The only thing you think is,
"We must be on the wrong side
of the mountain,
or we must have lost the way."
My soul said,
"Marco, stop yourself."
"Stop. Stop. Stop."
I called Ger.
I said, "Ger,
let's stay here for the night."
We must stay still
because it would be easy
for an avalanche to get us.
I expected by noon
at the latest to hear from them.
And the phone rang
when I was at lunch,
and I thought it was him,
but it was another friend.
She was like,
"Have you heard from Ger yet?"
And I said, "No.
I'm really worried."
And then I went home from lunch,
got immediately on the internet,
and the first thing
was "Trouble on K2."
First thing I thought of was,
"Okay, when does the sun
rise on K2?"
"Because that's when
they'll start moving again."
And, you know, "How many more
hours do they have out there?"
We were stranded
above the death zone.
Mahdi was out of his head.
I thought he was
going to kill us both.
By instinct,
I digged a hole into the slope
to get out of the storm.
I remember screaming
at the top of my lungs,
"I don't want to die!"
And that's when I heard them
above the howl of the wind.
I don't know whether
it was Compagnoni or Lacedelli,
but I heard a voice.
"Do you want us
to freeze for you?"
"Leave the oxygen
and go straight down."
For me, the descent
is not a really big problem.
I'm so much fixed
in the descending
that I don't really know
who is in front of me
or back of me.
So only thing is,
I know that I see light
and I was coming
close to the light.
Then I saw it was Hugues,
the Frenchman.
Hey, Hugues.
Hey, Gas.
Y... you go past.
You're quicker than me.
I pass him,
and I go on descending.
Take your time.
Go. Go.
And then I noticed something
is not okay with the rope.
If you sleep, you die.
I think Wilco heard our voices,
so he came in our direction.
We were not in a panic.
We were-
we were just sitting.
We were just, you know, yeah,
wondering why
we couldn't find the rope.
But we were convinced
that next morning,
with the first light,
we would find the rope again.
The Korean, they sit down.
I feel, it's very, very sad,
because I understand
many people,
they cannot reach
a high camp tonight.
There is nothing,
no ice anchor, no length,
no rock anchor,
no fixed line, nothing.
Then I try to contact
with the Korean Sherpa,
but I couldn't get them on radio
because nobody
switched on the radio.
It was a big problem.
We could go.
We could go up and...
If we had people,
we could do this.
It was still nice and clear.
We could see
some of the climbers
on the top of the serac.
We were convinced that,
with the first light,
we would find the rope again.
And Gerard was going
to the right, you know,
to have a look over there.
I was going to the left
to have a look over there.
Marco was looking somewhere.
We couldn't find it.
And then I start to realize
that I got problems
with my view.
I was getting more in panic,
you know, because I knew-
fuck, getting snow-blind
at this altitude is finished.
No helicopter are coming.
The guys can't do something
with a body of 80 kilos.
It's finished.
- Guys!
So, I said, "Listen, guys."
"I have to go down.
I have to go down."
I have to go down!
So I started just going down
without thinking anymore
and just going down.
Just one question.
Here is base camp
Serbian calling.
Do you know some information
about Gerard, the Irish guide,
from Norit expedition?
What I was hearing is "Jimmy,"
but "Jumik and Pasang
in trouble."
They were the Korean Sherpas.
And then Rolf
and then "Prenmaldic"?
I didn't even understand that
other people had died, really.
I was in shock.
I remember a phone call
I had to my father-in-law.
I was so scared
to make that phone call.
He was gonna be mad at me
for not looking after his son.
But instead, he said...
"You have to get
off the mountain."
"You have to come home."
I didn't want to lose
my husband,
but I lost, uh...
Of course, my best friend...
And my future
like I was hoping it would be.
I was just climbing down,
and then, suddenly,
those Koreans
were hanging over there.
I was just thinking,
"What the hell
are they doing here?"
I didn't understand
anything about it.
I had some spare gloves,
so I gave the gloves.
I didn't ask what happened.
Maybe they
were hanging all night long,
but at that time, I was...
I was just, you know,
shocked about it.
I said, "Listen."
"I have to go down"
"because I'm starting
to get snow-blind."
And he said, "Yeah, yeah,"
"but help is also on the way,
so go ahead."
I'll send help.
They are all up there
by themselves.
They're not moving anywhere.
They're just sitting still,
just waiting to get help.
The South Korean
expedition leader, Kim,
was arranging a rescue mission.
But I just said, "Hey, guys",
"they're not standing up,
moving one meter,"
"and you're telling me
that I should go up there"
"when the ice
is still falling down?"
There's no fixed lines.
There's no ropes.
I mean, that is just insane.
This is not a guided tour.
We cannot physically pluck
people off this mountain.
Then American team, they said,
"Because we
don't have enough manpower,"
"we cannot go ourself,
a rescue,"
"because physically
we are all so weak."
"Is still bottleneck,
is very dangerous."
"Then, now we have to go down."
Copy that.
Copy that.
Most of the people,
they are moving from-
Down from Camp Four,
moving down.
Then, uh...
In our group,
Mr. Kim insisted that we
go for a rescue.
We had no choice.
We had to follow
their instructions.
They paid us,
and they acted
like they owned our lives.
I was so thirsty, you know,
and I knew I'm getting crazy
in a few hours,
because when you don't have
water at that altitude
for such a long time,
you won't survive it.
I looked up, and I saw
that Marco and Gerard
were with those Korean guys.
Which way?
That's it.
It was the Korean climbing leader.
But everything was smashed up
with lots of blood everywhere.
I have worked for 15 years
in mountain rescue,
and I have seen many things
and many people.
I knew this was a bad situation.
Okay. Okay.
You're all right.
You have to save yourself on K2.
It's the only way.
I've never attempted
to take the credit
from Lacedelli and Compagnoni
of conquering K2,
nor would I.
Yet Mahdi and I
were written out of the story.
Our sacrifice
was completely omitted
in the official records.
Then it was lied about
behind my back for decades.
They said we used the oxygen
to save ourselves.
This is the oxygen, mind you,
that Lino and Achille
used to reach the summit.
For 30 years,
I have been attacked,
accused, provoked, and slandered
all because I volunteered
my own life
in the service of my people
and my country.
Without Mahdi and I,
K2 would have remained a dream.
We worked together.
I found a walkie-talkie
under the Sherpa.
I spoke with someone.
I don't know who it was
who was listening.
I spoke.
I said,
"I don't speak English."
"I speak Tarzan English."
I said, "I am Marco.
I am at the serac."
"There is a problem."
"Somebody has to come up.
I am tired."
But then Ger,
he went back up a bit.
I didn't understand why.
I didn't know if he wanted
to pull down the Koreans still.
I spoke on the radio,
and then I started to descend.
All I could think about
was leaving, surviving.
I had to survive.
Called a friend.
Just asked her
if she'd come over
so I wouldn't have to be alone.
She came to the door,
and she grabbed me,
and she said,
"We are gonna will him
off that mountain."
Okay, you must bring him down.
Mr. Kim says
we must keep climbing higher
and find the Korean team.
He's alive,
but nobody's-
want to come with me.
But everybody say,
"No, it's still dangerous."
Then finally, I...
I start climb again.
He wearing a green down suit.
I knew that is Marco.
If I don't have oxygen,
I cannot bring him down
because I cannot carry him.
After ten minutes,
Marco is trying to move
and trying to talk with me.
Go ahead, Pasang.
I am here with the Korean team.
They said,
"We see Korean Sherpas"
"and Korean team."
"Now we are trying
to descend together."
Is there anyone else there?
There was one other climber,
but he was hit by ice and fell.
What was
the color of his down suit?
Red and black.
When they said,
then I think that could be Ger.
I don't know who is the person
rolling down.
Then I reach there,
and I saw two Korean body
is ten meters far
from two other Sherpas' body.
I know the rucksack
and boots and down suit.
Everybody wants to survive...
doesn't matter if you have
a child or... or a wife at home.
Yeah, there was
the last moment I saw Gerard
and these other Koreans,
but I don't know
what happened with them.
Why are... me surviving?
Yeah, it's... it's just a matter
of... of stupid...
yeah, be unlucky
on the wrong time
and the wrong place.
Wilco, our expedition leader,
is back up with the helicopter
because he's frozen his feet.
And there's a second helicopter
for Marco.
He froze his hands really badly,
so he can't use his hands
to get the ropes anymore.
Helicopter carries
the last survivor
of a doomed mission to climb
one of world's
most challenging mountains.
Italian Marco Confortola
was rescued from K2
nearly five days
after an avalanche
swept some climbers away
and stranded others.
And badly frostbitten
from trying to help
save others in the group.
Instinct, he says,
makes you want to do that.
Confortola says the expedition
was plagued by inexperience
and poor equipment.
He says some ropes and spikes
easily broke.
Different people
were saying different things.
There was a lot of confusion.
There was a lot of stories,
but the Marco story
became the story.
We were all prepared,
all alpine climbers.
We were people who knew
what we were doing,
but it was K2,
the most difficult of mountains.
This guy had had
a horrific experience up there.
He was in pretty bad shape,
both mentally and physically.
I said, "Look, I need to..."
"Find out for sure, you know,"
"what went down up here,
like, you know?"
"I have to go to Pakistan."
It was really frightening,
because we didn't know
what we were going in for.
And, I mean, I guess half of me
kind of still believed Ger
was alive,
and the other half
didn't believe it.
Following day,
we got to meet Wilco and Cas.
I'm sorry. I'm just hoping he's alive.
But he's saying he saw
Ger fall, and his story...
And in my heart, there's still hope.
- I know it's ridiculous.
- Yes, I understand.
- So he's-he is dead?
- Yes, for sure.
Absolutely, because that was
what Marco told us directly.
Wilco and Cas,
they were obviously nervous
because our brother
had died, you know,
and they were alive.
Why did we split up?
Why didn't we look
to each other?
The only explanation
is because we were too-
too long at high altitude.
Marco's account was,
he was sitting there with Ger,
and then there were three people
ahead of them.
And all of a sudden,
those people disappeared.
And so they took such a fright,
they decided,
"Let's just sit here
"and wait until daylight," right?
And then he says you came along,
but then... then...
No, no, no, that's not correct,
because we started together.
So you were all...
you bivouacked all together?
- Yeah.
- You never came along later?
One thing that always took
hold in my head
and still does to this day
how so many people
on the mountain
could have different stories
about the same event.
And then we come back
in the night,
and then after-
and then the next morning,
everything happens.
They had their information
about the little bit
Wilco could remember
and the little bit
Cas could remember
and what they heard
Marco could remember.
And they drew a map for us,
you know, the terrain
where they thought
things occurred.
Marco's a very emotional boy.
Yes, and he's totally...
He was... at the end of...
he was so tired.
They didn't know any more.
Cas and Wilco had been airlifted
off the mountain.
There was no debriefing
with the remainder of the team,
and they actually didn't know.
He was just getting
more and more confused.
We needed more.
You know what I mean?
It wasn't enough.
For some reason, we felt
we needed to talk to Pemba.
Marco had left
by the time we got there,
but Pemba
and the rest of the Norit team
were hiking out,
and that takes two days.
Also, mentally,
Marco was almost mad.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
Because when I trying
to give oxygen,
he's angry with me.
"Why you came here
to pick up me?"
He is always talking
negative, negative,
always crying.
And he's saying,
"You fucking guys,"
"why you come here
to pick up me?"
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- That is...
- Not very understanding.
- We say a head case.
- Yeah.
By the time Pemba
got to Islamabad,
Marco was gone,
and all the major news people
left too.
It never occurred to them
that maybe he'd have something
to say.
What happened on K2,
the story of the rescue,
is that I tried
for three or four hours
to give help to those boys.
It's something that just came
from my heart.
It was after that
that I paid the consequences.
What Marco did on the mountain...
nobody can take that
away from him.
He was a hero on the mountain.
I mean, the family always-
to this day,
the family have said,
"Marco did what he could do."
"He was a hero."
But the stories
were changing from Marco
from what he
originally came outwith.
He said
that Ger was always ahead,
that Ger abandoned him.
Within a day or two, the stories
were-were rife in the papers.
Marco was
the last living witness
to have seen Ger.
So for to hear these stories
that Ger was always ahead,
he was hallucinating,
his body was splattered
all over the mountain-
this was heartbreaking
for us, like.
He changed his story
several times,
which certainly didn't help
make things clear.
And... and, you know, his story
had a lot of clout
because everyone else was gone,
everyone else had perished.
So you can say
whatever you want.
There's no one there
to contradict what you say,
except for Pemba.
See, all we have is a story
to cling onto,
and-and now all the stories
are different.
And it's very hard, do you know?
Every story's different,
and that's all we have.
We've no body.
But why we are asking...
because now I,
what your story says
is that you were
a little bit lower
than the body of Gerard, so...
Two fresh Sherpas
forcing by Korean leader
reach Korean,
just top section of the couloir.
And then they
are descending together.
I thought
they were already dead,
the three who were hanging,
but probably
they had been moving then.
Yeah, then same time,
three, four times,
the serac fell down.
Multi times serac...
Pemba was the missing piece
of the jigsaw.
He held the key
to a lot of people's questions.
Ger had given his camera
to Pemba at the summit,
so Pemba had (Bar's camera
coming down and all.
And he continued to take
pictures of what was happening.
It was obvious, then,
why Ger refused
to come down the mountain.
There was people in trouble.
Ger was never going to,
never going to leave them after.
It would have destroyed him
to just leave the Koreans.
It would have ate away,
and it would've haunted him day
and night, I think.
At first, we weren't told
that Ger had gone back up.
That came out
a little bit later.
When we met,
Pemba knew something
that we didn't know
at that point-
that second radio call.
Go ahead, Pasang.
I am here with the Korean team.
They met the Koreans
at the top of the bottleneck.
That means they traveled
from where they were stuck,
all the way across the traverse.
Ger freed them.
There was no one else
there to do it.
In our own team,
we would have done everything
for each other.
But what did Gerard-
not only in his own team...
he... he...
he fight for his life
and even for the life
of the Koreans.
Had they made it down
to Camp Four safely,
it would be
one of the most amazing stories
in mountaineering history,
you know?
But instead,
because they got hit by ice,
it's a tragedy,
and then it
becomes a controversy.
Ger was true to his nature
to the very end.
That's who he-
that's who he was.
If it takes 100 years,
the truth
will have to be recognized
by those to Whom the verdict
of history belongs.
when somebody does lose a life,
what went down is held,
you know,
up under the microscope.
And some people might say,
"They should have done this,
and they
shouldn't have done that."
Just because you survive
the mountain
doesn't make you an expert,
and it doesn't-
I don't think that it
gives you any right to-
to say that somebody
made a mistake, you know,
because you just-
you know,
when you Weren't there,
you don't know.
Only the mountain knows.