At 18,000 feet above sea level and over the course of 40 days last Spring, documentary filmmaker Dianne Whelan immersed herself in the challenging and captivating world of base camp at Mt. Everest. With spectacular footage of the mountains’ landscape as a backdrop, 40 DAYS AT BASE CAMP is an intriguing and intimate portrayal of three climbing teams and their journey to the peak.
Each spring, over 800 people attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Everest with a corporately sponsored team or as an individual climber, who can expect to pay up to $100,000 for the experience. With the film crew imbedded in life at base camp, 40 DAYS follows three climbing teams as they use the worlds’ highest peak as a stage for personal achievement or as a platform for their cause. In a style of direct cinema combined with video diaries of climbers woven into the story, we meet the Columbian, Indian and Canadian climbing teams.
Through the eyes of the corporately sponsored Columbian team, we are given a parallel story of one man’s challenge from a physical disability and his ability to overcome adversity with a nations’ pride of achieving the unthinkable. Through Arjun, a 16 year-old Indian climber, we follow the youngest person from that country and the second youngest in history to summit the peak of Mt. Everest. From the Canadian team, we meet Rob, When Rob Hill summited Mount Everest, he was one of the first 15 Canadians to complete the seven summits. More importantly though, when Rob was on top of the world, he was the first person living with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy to achieve this amazing feat! Rob climbs to raise awareness of intestinal disease, ostomy and the not-for-profit organization he founded: IDEAS.
As the climbers complete their rotations from base camp in attempts to acclimatize for the push to the summit, the narrative explores the devastating effect climate change has had on the mountains ecology. It is believed that to date, there are over 250 dead bodies buried on the path from base camp to the peak of Mt. Everest. With the glacier melting and moving at over four inches a day, we see this rapid deterioration in the human remains that are surfacing at base camp.
With 40 DAYS AT BASE CAMP, Dianne Whelan captures a fascinating, intimate portrayal of life at the base of Mt. Everest, the ‘goddess’ to the local people and a place of staggering physical and spiritual beauty. The film sheds a provocative light on a community of people that are brought together in their quest to reach the top of the world and the challenges that journey brings.