From director Jennifer Peedom, Sherpa looks at how Mt Everest’s Sherpa community united in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain following the deadly avalanche that struck on April 18, 2014, killing 16 of their members. Here in Edinburgh, Discovery Channel has unveiled plans to air the documentary in more than 200 countries around the world next year.
The project originally began as a look at the climbing season from the Sherpas’ point of view after a 2013 confrontation between Western climbers and some of their community. Peedom and her team planned to focus on legendary Sherpa Phurba Tashi’s world record-breaking attempt to summit Everest for the 22nd time. Instead, they captured the single deadliest day in the mountain’s history after an avalanche struck the Khumbu Icefall above Base Camp. Discovery was also on the mountain as it prepped to film Everest Jump Live which would have seen climber Joby Ogwyn attempt to make the first wing-suit flight off the summit of the world’s tallest mountain.
That later turned into a documentary about the rescue and recovery efforts. The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal of the Everest climbing industry, and it served as a turning point for many of the Sherpas and their families as they considered whether to continueworking on the mountain.
“This is a film that is powerful and moving,” said Discovery’s Rich Ross who spoke as part of the U.S. Gamechangers sessions today in Edinburgh. “It brings us somewhere we’ve never gone before — deep into the lives of the Sherpas who make Everest’s climbing culture possible.”
The news comes as Univeral and Working Title’s feature Everest, from helmer Baltasar Kormakur, opens the Venice Film Festival next week. A 2nd unit crew from that film was also on the mountain the day of the avalanche but escaped without injury.
Sherpa is produced by Bridget Ikin, co-founder of Felix Media, and John Smithson of Arrow Media.