The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant was created to help ensure that important stories are not only told, but also heard. Allision Otto and Carole Snow were recipients of one of the 2011 grants for their documentary project, titled Keeper of the Mountains, which is about the Grande Dame of the Himalaya, Elizabeth Hawley, who is now in her late 80s. This legendary Everest historian was a journalist and chronicler of Himalayan expeditions. Because she traveled to Nepal in September 1960 and never left, her unique vantage on mountaineering history has put her in a position to decide who has earned a summit in the Himalaya, and she’s helped resolve many mountaineering controversies.
Mountainfilm in Telluride checked in with Otto to see how the grant project is progressing and learned that she plans to “return to Kathmandu in late May, along with Miss Hawley's Colorado relatives, to film her gathering climbing reports during the latter half of the spring climbing season and to film her interactions with her family, whom she does not often get the chance to see. In the meantime, I've been interviewing climbers who have known Miss Hawley over the years — including Reinhold Messner and Dave Hahn — and they shared some great stories for the documentary.”
Otto also has access to 80 years worth of photographs and letters written by Miss Hawley throughout her life from all over the globe. Otto reports that “this archive will be a key component of the film as it provides not only her thoughts at the time on various mountaineering expeditions, but also a glimpse into the humor, intelligence and tenderness behind someone who, on the surface, is a very private and formal person.”
For more information about the film and its progress, visit www.miss-hawley.com.