There are a wealth of films around the subject of climbing, mostly focussing on the man’s quest to conquer the peaks. Height is often the main driver, with the vast majority centred around the historical struggle to best Mount Everest. However, the tallest are not always the most difficult to climb. Whilst Sagarmāthā is more of a tourist destination nowadays, there are still some routes on mountains which defy all human endeavour.
Meru is a Peak in Garwhal Himalayas in the in north-eastern India. The Shark’s Fin route up the central peak has confounded all attempts for centuries. It’s considered to be one of the world’s most difficult ascents and has called to mountaineer Conrad Anker for many years. Despite previous failed attempts he is determined to defeat it, teeming up with Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk for his latest endeavour. What’s particularly taxing about the Shark’s Fin is the multiple disciplines required to scale it.
Filmed by Chin, Meru is the story of their attempts to climb the mountain. What separates it from most films about mountaineering is its authenticity and focus on the actual skills of climbing. It doesn’t feel at all stylised, and as a result is fascinating; even to someone with no interest in the sport. It’s also undeniably beautiful, Chin using all his experience as a director and photographer to capture and record the most intimate moments. Meru is a superior documentary, and meditation on life, about the struggle between man and nature.
Meru is out in cinemas on Friday.