Raw peak at tragedy

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

SHERPA ( M)

Di­rec­tor: Jen­nifer Pee­dom ( Soli­tary En­deav­our on the South­ern Ocean) Star­ring: Phurba Tashi Sherpa, Rus­sell Brice, Karma Doma Sherpa, Ed Dou­glas Ver­dict: The down­side of mov­ing up in the world HERE is how life goes down so high in the sky. This sober­ing, re­veal­ing and ap­pre­cia­bly raw doc­u­men­tary presents a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture of what hap­pens up on Mt Ever­est dur­ing peak climb­ing pe­ri­ods.

Film­maker Jen­nifer Pee­dom hap­pened to be there on the spot in April 2014 when an avalanche claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa guides.

It is the tragic in­ci­dent’s im­pact on the Sherpa peo­ple – the Nepalese in­dige­nous group whose mas­tery of the moun­tain’s many dan­gers is in­tri­cately en­twined with their fam­ily val­ues and spir­i­tual be­liefs – that is Pee­dom’s prin­ci­pal fo­cus here.

As the Ever­est ex­pe­di­tion busi­ness has surged in the mod­ern era, the Sher­pas who keep the whole thing go­ing have been trag­i­cally taken for granted.

Though de­pen­dent on com­mer­cial tour com­pa­nies for their liveli­hood, the price they are ul­ti­mately pay­ing for the re­la­tion­ship is com­ing at the ex­pense of a pre­cious an­cient cul­ture.

And all too of­ten, their own lives.

For a doc­u­men­tary shot es­sen­tially in re­ac­tion to a chain of un­pre­dictable events oc­cur­ring around Pee­dom and her small crew, Sherpa achieves a re­mark­ably co­her­ent and nu­anced cov­er­age of a com­plex situation.

As the ini­tial shock of the avalanche deaths sub­sides, the Sher­pas take an un­prece­dented stand against their for­eign em­ploy­ers.

Call­ing a flash strike, the 300- strong Sherpa con­tin­gent de­mands the com­plete can­cel­la­tion of the 2014 climb­ing sea­son. Quite rightly, they don’t want to be clam­ber­ing over the un­re­cov­ered bod­ies of their late col­leagues for months to come, just so that a com­pany can meet its obli­ga­tions to cashed- up clients.

De­mands are also is­sued for bet­ter pay and safety con­di­tions, which seem per­fectly rea­son­able given the re­ward- to- risk ra­tio for the av­er­age Sherpa is al­most in­sult­ingly low.

How­ever, the at­ti­tude of the ex­pe­di­tion com­pa­nies – known to charge up to $ 100,000 per cus­tomer – to­wards the Sher­pas is not ex­actly sup­port­ive. In fact, at times, there is an in­dig­nant streak to the stance of the tour bosses that bor­ders on racist.

An Aus­tralian- made work des­tined to change many minds around the world about the Ever­est ex­pe­ri­ence.

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