The Summit (2013)



Critic Consensus: While it could use more clarity than director Nick Ryan brings to bear, the real-life story behind The Summit still makes for compelling viewing.

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K2, commonly known as Savage Mountain, is an extension of the northwestern Himalayan Mountain range and is located in the remote region between Pakistan and China. With an unprecedented fatality rate of one in four climbers, it has rightfully earned the title of the second most murderous mountain. But with any high risk sport comes the love of the challenge, and in August 2008 22 climbers from several international expeditions converged on High Camp of K2, the last stop before the summit. Forty-eight hours later, 11 had been killed or simply vanished into thin air. Like a horror movie come to life, it was as if the mountain began stealing lives, one climber at a time. THE SUMMIT is a seamless pastiche of the climbers' firsthand footage, after-the-fact interviews and reenactments. It plays like an engaging narrative film as it focuses on the mystery behind one extraordinary man, Ger McDonnell, who was left behind in the death zone as his best friend searched in vain to find him, rescuing several others. As the legend surrounding McDonnell and the ten others grows, fearless new climbers are drawn to test themselves against the deadliest mountain on Earth. (c) IFC
R (for some language)
Documentary , Special Interest , Sports & Fitness
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Lochlann O'Mearain
as Ger McDonnell
Garrett Philips
as Wilco VanRooijen
Christo Mitzkov
as Marco Confortola
Johannes Moser
as Rolf Bae
Stefan Grossniklaus
as Lars Nessa
Brian Hall
as Hugues D'Aubarde
Kelsang Dawa
as Korean Climber
Niall Foley
as Fredrik Strang/Cas Van De Gevel
Nyima Tsering
as Korean Climber
Phurbu Tsering
as Korean Climber
Concetto LaMalfa
as Walter Bonatti
Christine Barness
as Cecilie Skog
Tshering Lama Bhote
as Interviewee/Self in Dramatic Reenactments
Pemba Gyalje
as Interviewee/Self in Dramatic Reenactments
Chhiring Dorje Sherpa
as Interviewee/Self in Dramatic Reenactments
Pasang Lama
as Interviewee/Self in Dramatic Reenactments
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Critic Reviews for The Summit

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (20)

Remarkably, The Summit achieves some of the same dizzying impact as Gravity -- by philosophical and psychological means, rather than special effects.

Full Review… | October 30, 2013
Orange County Register
Top Critic

The subject is fascinating and the cinematic punch afforded by peaks so massive, inspiring with their terrible beauty is a filmmaker's dream.

Full Review… | October 24, 2013
Toronto Star
Top Critic

You have a tangled story being told by director Nick Ryan and writer Mark Monroe in a somewhat tangled way. The result isn't as much confusing as it is distracting.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013
Detroit News
Top Critic

First-time director Nick Ryan isn't entirely up to the challenge in "The Summit," but he does deliver some dramatic and visual highs in the attempt.

Full Review… | October 17, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

At once repetitive and puzzling. There is a lot of finger-pointing. Assertions are made, theories offered, but not much in the way of certainty.

Full Review… | October 10, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

There's something unsettling about a real-life tragedy presented as an action film; that the filmmakers never acknowledge this is more unsettling yet.

Full Review… | October 10, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Summit

The subject matter and the people are interesting enough to make this worth watching. The storyline isn't completely coherent, and it's not the best mountain climbing documentary out there.

Mad Martigan
Mad Martigan

The K2 literally casts a shadow as the sun sets-- all the way to China. The film itself was confusing, sad, and scary.

Sue Birkenseer
Sue Birkenseer

It's time shifting structure seems unnecessary in what is after all a documentary/docudrama and not a fiction film, but otherwise this is a gripping and desperately sad account of a tragedy on the slopes of one on of the most beautiful places on earth.

Daniel Parsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer

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