K2 and the Invisible Footmen

Year: 2015

Director: Iara Lee

Playing time: 54 minutes

Subtitles: English

Peace activist and film-maker Iara Lee puts her focus on the people who make climbing the highest mountains possible: Pakistani bearers and Nepalese Sherpas. Amidst breathtaking images, she depicts the daily sacrifices of the bearers and the courage of native climbers who return to K2 despite previous tragic experiences.

For many climbers, K2 is more prestigious than Everest because there are fewer routes and the ascent is steeper. The summit of K2, on the border of Pakistan and China, exposes climbers to potentially lethal weather conditions – in 2008, K2 claimed 11 lives. Four of these were bearers. Although they are paid much less than expedition leaders, the bearers carry out difficult and dangerous work. They bring essential supplies to the base camps and help climbers to reach high altitudes. They deserve recognition as the true heroes of mountaineering.

In ‘K2 and the Invisible Footmen’, peace activist and film-maker Iara Lee puts her focus on the people who make it possible to climb the highest mountains: Pakistani bearers and Nepalese Sherpas. She also portrays the first official Pakistani climbing team, which consists of former bearers, filming the team in 2014 when they reach the summit 60 years after the first ascent. Amidst breathtaking images, she depicts the daily sacrifices of the bearers and the courage of native climbers who return to K2 despite previous tragic experiences. The focus on these mountaineers gives us a completely different perspective on culture and customs in Pakistan, very different to the images we get from normal news media.