Ascending an 8,000-meter peak is never easy. In winter, with temperatures plummeting to 30 below and colder and with snowstorms raging, it is nearly unthinkable. In fact, of the 17 efforts to ascend an 8,000-meter peak in Pakistan in winter only one has been successful. That winter ascent of Gasherbrum II by Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Cory Richards is the subject of Cold. Filmed by Richards and written from his perspective, this is a very personal and frank portrayal of the risks and rigors of high-altitude mountaineering, in this case intensified by the choice of calendar date—fully three months ahead of the standard Himalayan season. There’s crazy; and then there’s cold crazy. Moro, Urubko and Richards clearly pitch their tents in the latter camp. Of the three, only Richards—the first American to ever achieve an 8,000-meter winter ascent anywhere—seems concerned by the madness.
Wade Davis who has appeared at Mountainfilm many times is often thought as an anthropologist and ethno-botanist; yet he considers himself more of a storyteller. Now after a two-year absence he returns to Telluride with two important stories. In the first he is an activist, explaining at the Symposium on Friday the critical debate over drilling in the Sacred Headwaters, a still primal, sub-alpine basin in northern British Columbia that is the source of three salmon-bearing rivers.
The second story he tells is about the famed mountaineer George Mallory who made several attempts on Mount Everest, the final one fatal. Ten years in the making, Davis’s forthcoming book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest shows how the mountaineer’s obsession was rooted in 19th-century imperial ambitions, but then became a redemptive statement for a generation of men trying to repair their psyches after the brutality of World War I.
This book used new access to notes and personal letters and is the latest opus from the highly productive Davis who has written more than a dozen books and appeared in countless films while also serving as an Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic.
In Person: Wade Davis