Sherpa was filmed in 2014 and released in 2015. It documents the tragic events that occurred on the mountain on April 18, 2014 where 16 Sherpa died in one day. It also highlights the imbalanced relationship between the Sherpa and the climbers who hire them. The movie is told from the Sherpa viewpoint. Sherpa are an ethnic group from most mountainous regions of the Himalaya (Nepal, Tibet, India). The Sherpa documented in this movie are Nepalese guides. The Sherpa have always believed Chomolungma (Everest) to be a sacred and holy site rather than a mountain to be conquered. Everest has gotten more and more commercialized every year with up to 36 expeditions in a season trying to climb the mountain. Sherpa are genetically more fit to climb Everest and have been employed to carry 1000’s of pounds of gear and equipment up the mountain to not only make the route safer but more comfortable for the foreigners who pay up to $100,000 for the chance to stand on top of her. Sherpas have always taken a disproportionate risk on the mountain and have never been given the acknowledgement they deserve for their efforts in helping people reach the summit. For example, they travel through the Khumbu Icefall 20-30 times in a season while an expedition climber will usually go through it twice. The Khumbu Icefall is one of the most dangerous areas of the Everest route due to its geography and location. It is part of a moving glacier and its topography is constantly changing. The route used to go up may not be the same route used when descending. Most deaths in the Icefall result from falling into crevasses, Icefall collapses and avalanches into the Icefall. The 16 deaths that occurred in 2014 were the result of an avalanche. After this unfortunate event, the Sherpa refused to climb the mountain. They banded together in their grief and anger and boycotted climbing the mountain. The climbing season came to an abrupt end bringing worldwide attention to the Sherpa and causing many to re-evaluate their role as climber, guide, and business owner. The movie also makes mention of climate change and its impact on the changing landscape of Everest. I would recommend watching the movie to anyone interested in mountain climbing, the Himalayas, the Sherpa and Nepalese people. The movie is 96 minutes long and does include some profanity. There are a few “f” bombs so this isn’t a movie for middle school. I would be okay showing this to upper classmen in high school in my World Geography class but would caution my students about the language. In addition, I gave 4 stars for the film because the subtitles are difficult to read and often blend in with the film (white on white doesn't work very well...).
|Series Director||Peedom, Jennifer|
After an ice slide kills 16 Sherpas on Everest, they unite in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain.
The video documentary follows the 2014 climbing season at Mt. Everest which was cut short by the tragic death of 16 Sherpas who died in an avalanche on the Khumbu Icefall. The retelling of the event includes a brief history of Westerners and their summits of Mt. Everest. It explains the all important role of the Sherpas in every summit, along with the moral questions involved in the extreme dangers they face compared to the proportionately small compensation and recognition they receive.
The camera views and breathtaking images show the beauty and danger of the mountain, while the colors capture the essence of the culture. The viewer gets a true sense of the power of Mother Nature and the respect she commands.
The true accounting of the specific 2014 climbing season as events were developing highlights a people who have been taken advantage of finding their voice and seeing the beginning of change.
Questions after the viewing
What has occurred in the climbing seasons of 2016 and 2017?
In what ways have the Sherpas continue to discover their "power" and the control they actually possess on the mountain business? Has their situation and pay become more equitable to the dangers of their service?
Has the government begun in any way to reduce the number of western climbers permitted in order to lighten the burden for the Sherpas in consideration for the safety and risk factors to them?
How I will integrate into my curriculum
I teach at the middle school level and I will share the story of the Sherpas and the moral questions involved with their climbing and compensation as we learn about the art and people of East Asia. Students, like many others are intrigued by Mt. Everest and those who climb it. I would show some sections of the movie to highlight this and also as a lead in to the art question of how art and religion are combined in Tibet to represent what is important in their culture.
How has viewing the movie influenced my perception of the China Study Tour
This video documentary makes me empathetic to the situation that has frustrated the Sherpa community (the fact they take most of the risk but only a small portion of the compensation and glory). It makes me excited to meet them and I am definitely in "awe" of their seemingly "superhuman" hereditary traits that allows them to climb and summit Mt. Everest without oxygen and the effects of the altitude.
Recommendation to other teachers
I would recommend the video for other teachers as the account is firsthand and most to all of the footage was during and right after the actual events. I feel this account is factual and shows the situation and those involved in a truthful light.