Beyond the Summit

Beyond the Summit, Pakistan, 24 November 2008

Directed by Juan Carlos López-Durán. Starring José Antonio Delgado. Released 2008. 78 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. This film is an intimate look at the philosophy and life of Venezualan mountaineer Jose Antonio Delgado. "To win the race against death, you must really do the things you are really want to do, what you're passionate about." "...


I feel the mountain is doing me a favour by allowing me to be there, appreciating so much beauty, bringing me so much satisfaction, and allowing me to test myself physically and mentally." "You reach the summit, a second of Euphoria, and then come back to reality. Because you know your are only half way there. ... For me, the real summit, the real finish, the real moment of celebration is when I get home."

In addition to the interviews with Jose and his wife, we see brief climbing sequences on Khan Tengri Expedition (7010m) in August 2005, Gasherbrum II in July 2000, and with Marcus Tobia becoming the first Venezualans to reach the Mount Everest summit on May 23, 2001. We also see a beautifully filmed ascent with Edgar Guariguata to Green Lake, across the Humboldt Glacier and on to the summit of Humboldt Peak (4942m) in Venezuala in December 2005. The crux of the climbing is on Nanga Parbat, where after summiting on July 11, 2006, Delgado died after 10 days fighting fiercly against an unforgiving storm without food or weater, trapped at Camp 4. Strung throughout the film is a wonderful cartoon story "The Great Mountain" written by Jose and narrated by Jose's children Sofia and Tomas of a camel, yak, kangaroo and an elephant who climb a great mountain.

"The mountain seems difficult, super difficult, and we are shaken by the thought that we will climb it. ... I ask her to be compassionate, to not send me a big storm" Delgado and his partner Edgar Guariguata trek to Nanga Parbat Base Camp and climb to camp 2. Edgar is not feeling well and goes back to Base Camp. Jose continues alone to Camp 3 where he stays the night, eating only chocolate mouse. Although he professes to be a conservative climber, when a forecasted weather window opens, Jose decides to go alone. Although a storm does hit, Jose Antonio Delgado continues and reaches the summit of Nanga Parbat on July 11, 2006 at 15:00. He can't find Camp 4 on the descent and has to bivouac at 7800-7900m before finding Camp 4 the next day.

We watch what is happening on the mountain thru the radio contact between Edgar at Base Camp and Jose. Jose tells Edgar that his feet are frozen, and Edgar implors Jose to "crawl! Crawl to Camp 3." Edgar is helpless and cannot help Jose, "He's f**ked alone, but ... I can't do anything .. This isn't living. ... I'm dying with him." On July 22, 2006 a group of six Pakistani mountaineers found Delgado's body at an altitude of 7100m between camp three and four in the open near his tent.

This is the best film I have ever seen that clearly describes why people become mountaineers - the absolute love and joy of climbing. The cartoon story is delightful, and the climbing sequences, especially Humboldt Peak, are excellent.

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