Mountain climbing appeals to a certain kind of thrillseeker: someone who is incredibly athletic, somewhat wealthy and completely fearless. That last one is the most important because the risk of death is always so prevalent. Nick Ryan‘s Sundance 2013 documentary The Summit focuses on that. It pieces together the story of a group of 24 climbers who climbed the legendary mountain K2 in the summer of 2008. Only 11 returned.

The Summit was selected in the World Cinema Documentary category but if you watch this trailer, you might think there’s no way it can be real. Can it? Watch it below.

Thanks to TwitchFilm (via First Showing) for the heads up. Here’s the trailer for The Summit.

And here’s the plot description of the film:

In August 2008, twenty-four climbers from several international expeditions converged on High Camp of K2, the last stop before the summit of the most dangerous mountain on earth. Forty-eight hours later, eleven had been killed or had vanished, making it the worst K2 climbing disaster in history.

In a century of assaults on K2, only about 300 people have ever seen the view from the planet’s second highest peak. More than a quarter of those who made it didn’t live long enough to share the glory, or to tell the tale.

At the heart of The Summit lies a mystery about one extraordinary man, Ger McDonnell. By all accounts, he was faced with a heart-breaking dilemma– at the very limit of his mortal resources, he encountered a disastrous scene and a moral dilemma: three climbers tangled up in ropes and running out of time. In the death zone, above 8,000 metres, the body is literally dying with each passing second. Morality is skewed 180 degrees from the rest of life. 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.

The Summit is about the very nature of modern adventure. Those who survive carry with them a commodity to sell– The Story. This one remains contentious and fiercely debated.

While the trailer certainly makes The Summit look like a narrative film, TwitchFilm’s full review makes it clear the film is in fact a documentary. It just happens to feature lots of “convincing reconstructions.” Personally, I’m riveted and will definitely be attempting to catch this as soon as possible.

What do you think about The Summit?

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