I have a list that will change the way you look at documentaries. That is if you’ve been untouched by the charm that real-life mountain documentaries hold over scripted movies.
While mountain movies have their share of gripping drama, mountain documentaries, steeped in real-life, are edge-of-the-seat thrillers.
So while at home during the second wave of Covid-19, catch up on these mountain documentaries packed with candid tales of successful and failed expeditions, behind-the-scene realities, and inspiring stories bursting out of the mountains.
Most links here feature the entire documentary. So, take a look and tell us, which one of these is your favourite?
1. Heroes of Himalayas
The first in the list is a documentary about our Green Trails initiative. It takes you through our journey of leaving the mountains better than we found them.
“When Ambuj approached us to make the documentary, we were a bit skeptical. Though many filmmakers have tried to make a film on Green Trails, rarely has anyone been able to showcase Green Trails with the depth it requires. We were wary of that,” shares Arjun Majumdar, the founder of Indiahikes.
And when we finally watched the film, “We were stunned! Suffice to say it’s one of the finest documentaries made on Indiahikes’ Green Trails I’ve seen”, exclaims Arjun.
We thought you must watch this documentary. If you’re an Indiahiker, you’ll be extremely proud that you’re a part of this community.
And if you’re not an Indiahiker, you’ll still love the film. This film on the Heroes of Himalayas is a terrific documentary.
2. Between the Peaks
Out of all the mountain documentaries, this one is clearly for nomadic souls. At Indiahikes, we relate to the idea behind this documentary, one that revolves around a simple, yet impactful life.
It is a documentary set in 2013, based on the journeys of three friends who climb peaks, fight white-outs at 20,000 feet, cross jungles, survive unforgiving beaches while volunteering through every country they pass. At the heart, this film inches towards the charm of leading an adventure-filled, simple life and making a difference all along.
3. Breathtaking Look at the Man Who Climbed Everest 21 Times
Even with so many flocking to Mt .Everest, lives of sherpas remains tough and economically challenging. So, Apa Sherpa, who started working as a high-altitude porter by the age of 12, took it upon himself to make a difference. He became the world-record holder for summiting Everest. And has founded the Apa Sherpa Foundation to promote education in the lives of Sherpas.
4. Ed Viesturs: The Will to Climb
What does it take to summit all the fourteen 8,000-plus-meter mountains without bottled oxygen? Watch this inspiring National Geographic documentary based on Ed Viesturs, who is the first American to achieve this. In this documentary, Ed also talks about how he emerged stronger from the experience.
5. Ama Dablam Climbing Documentary
This one’s a treat! Made by climber and filmmaker Richard Pattison, it takes you on a journey to the handsome Mt Ama Dablam. In this mountain documentary, Richard documents his team through the expedition and reveals what it takes to achieve a goal. Sometimes, it involves battling lack of oxygen too!
6. Six Million Steps: A Journey Inward
It would take you approximately six million steps to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Those who loved watching Wild, the story of Cheryl Strayed finding herself on the same trail, will love this one. It is a collection of lives of people and their transformations after undertaking the hike. Watch it to see how a hike can indeed change your life.
7. Pobeda: Climbing North Hemisphere’s Coldest Peak
If you’ve ever shivered and cursed the cold on a Himalayan trek, this one is a must-watch for you. This North Face documentary will take you to the coldest place in the world – Pik Pobeda, the highest mountain in Siberia. While the temperature on our winter treks dip to -15 degree Celsius. Here, the minimum temperature reaches a new low. The lowest temperature recorded here was -71.3 degree Celsius. And two alpinists find themselves here in February 2018.
8. The North Face Presents: Lhotse
In 2018, Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison, climbed 27,940-foot Lhotse to only descend the towering peak on skis. This documentary by North Face brings forward what it can take some time to gain clarity, to understand our existence. Watch it for the breathtaking landscape and framing of shots.
9. Mountain Men – The Ghosts of K2
K2 was summited in 1954 after many unsuccessful attempts. And this candid documentary will take you through those failed attempts. It includes the story of British climbers Charley Houston and Fritz Wassner, who were unsuccessful in summiting the formidable K2.
10. K2 The Killer Summit
This deeply shocking and engaging documentary takes us through the grim reality of what happened in August 2008. For those who have watched The Summit, this movie opens up the real-life behind that movie. It revolves around the incident when out of 25 climbers who had gathered to climb K2, 11 simply vanish.
11. Almost Alpine
Arjun Majumdar, CEO-Founder of Indiahikes, once suggested how trekking helps in getting to know your partner better. Being out in the wild exposes different personality traits of people. On similar lines, this mountain documentary touches upon a story, set in picturesque Appalachian mountains, of three climbers who set out to climb a rock. And they realise their biggest challenge is not really the rock but finding a rhythm, a middle-ground between themselves.
12. Annapurna III – Unclimbed
Rising tall at 7555 meters, Annapurna is the 42ns highest mountain in the world. While Mt Annapurna has been summited from the North-East, David Lama and his team attempt to climb it from the South-East. Watch this mountain documentary for some thrilling climbs on a razor-sharp ridge.
If you lean towards mountain documentaries revolving around the locals, here’s a touching documentary on the life of Sherpas. It follows Dawa, who has summited Everest 13 times and closely looks at his life as he guides a group of 13 European climbers.
What does it mean to ski down a high mountain on the Karakorum range? This thrilling documentary follows the journey of a team which is inexperienced at mountaineering but find themselves in the heart of the cold, rugged landscape where they cover 150 kms over five weeks.
15. Free Solo
A must-watch for those who seek thrill in mountain documentaries. El Capitan is a 3000 feet high vertical rock located in the north of Yosemite Valley. In June 2017. Alex Honnold attempted to climb it in free solo style. Watch this documentary for gripping moments when Josh is hanging almost by his fingernails.
Did we miss your favourite mountain documentary? Drop the name in the comments to tell us which ones did we miss, so that we can catch up on it too!
Stay fit. Stay at home. And, stay safe.