‘The Summit’ documentary coming to Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

‘The Summit’ documentary coming to Steamboat

Luke Graham

American 300 Tours volunteers Eric Meyer, from left, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and Chris Klinke is pictured with K2 in the background. In association with the American 300 Foundation and Rural Partners in Medicine, the documentary "The Summit" will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Chief Theater.

— There were moments even Eric Meyer couldn't believe what he was seeing.

The images were striking, reflecting back to a day Meyer will never forget. The cinematography and pace were breathtaking, making Meyer unsure at points if the actor playing him in "The Summit" actually was an actor or him.

"The cinematography is really, really good," Meyer said about the documentary that chronicles the August 2008 K2 expedition where 11 of 24 climbers died trying to summit the world’s second-highest peak. "There was footage from the Dutch team that hasn't ever been seen before."

The film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and was given an award for best editing.

In association with the American 300 Foundation, which takes people with inspiring stories to speak with American troops deployed around the globe, and Rural Partners in Medicine, the documentary will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Chief Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Tickets are $15 if purchased at http://www.chieftheater.org or $20 at the door and benefit the Chief Theater and the Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series.

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Following the showing, Meyer, Chris Klinke and Chhiring Dorje Sherpa — who were all part of the expedition — will answer questions. The documentary has never-before-seen footage of the expedition, striking still images from Klinke and re-enactments that were shot in Switzerland.

Film crew also got access from the Pakistani government to shoot helicopter footage around K2.

On Aug. 1, 2008, Meyer woke up and thought the group’s chance of reaching the summit was 70 percent.

Meyer, Chhiring and two other climbers were part of the first wave up K2. The group was at the end of the line observing other climbers, watching a slow pace create a pileup in an area known as the “Bottleneck.” The rock gully with a 70-degree slope had frozen overhangs where huge chunks of ice loom over the path.

Looking up at the ice while contemplating the warm weather, Meyer and Swedish climber Fredrik Strang decided to turn around. Chhiring and the rest of the climbers reached the summit.

Avalanches tore away climbers’ ropes and stranded others. Chhiring came upon the remains in the dark, finding fellow Sherpa, Pasang Lama, without equipment in the most dangerous part of the climb. Pasang told Chhiring to save himself, but Chhiring refused. Eventually, the two made it down to Meyer at base camp.

American 300 founder and managing director Rob Powers, Meyer and several others were instrumental in getting Chhiring, his wife and two daughters a green card.

Powers has done several trips with Meyer and Chhiring, including one where they left Sunday for a Marine Scout Sniper exercise in California.

"These guys are approaching the mountains strategically how the Department of Defense approaches a mission," Powers said.

Chhiring said he wanted to do the event at the Chief to give back to a community that has given back so much to him and his family.

Although Meyer admitted recounting the tale has sometimes become tiresome, each time harking back to a terrible and deeply emotional day, that the two wanted to do it again as a fundraiser for Steamboat.

"Honestly, Chhiring and I were talking about this last summer," Meyer said. "He had just got done on the book tour with ‘Buried in the Sky.’ He said 'I'm done talking about it.' I said, 'So am I.' But this came up and he said, 'I'll talk about it again. This town has been very good to me.'"

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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