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Irish film on K2 disaster set for Sundance


AN Irish documentary about a mountain-climbing disaster has been selected for Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival. Produced and directed by Nick Ryan, 'The Summit' tells of how on August 1, 2008, 24 climbers from several international expeditions converged on High Camp of K2, the last stop before the summit of the most dangerous mountain on earth.

However 48 hours later, 11 had either been killed or had vanished, making it the worst K2 climbing disaster in history. K2 is on the border between Pakistan and China.

"At the heart of the film is the story of Limerick climber Ger McDonnell – the first Irishman to reach the summit of K2, but who encountered a disastrous scene on his descent: three climbers tangled up in ropes.

"When a climber falls or wanders off the trail, the unwritten code of the mountain is to leave them for dead. Had Ger McDonnell stuck to the climbers' code, he might still be alive," said Mr Ryan about the Irishman who lost his life with the three Korean climbers he was attempting to save.

Pemba Gyalje, a Sherpa from Nepal, had climbed everest with Ger McDonnell in 2003, and they became fast friends. When Ger decided to climb K2 in 2008, he asked him to join him as a fully fledged team member. In the hours following the summit, Mr Gyalje spent 30 hours in the death zone rescuing lost and stricken climbers, surviving the avalanche that would kill Ger.

'The Summit', also nominated for a prestigious Grierson Award for Best Documentary at this year's London Film Festival, was funded by Irish Film Board, RTE, and the BAI.

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