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The Beckoning Silence (2007)
This is not to be missed and you don't have to be a mountaineer to appreciate it..
Mountaineer Joe Simpson, famous not only for his survival on Siula Grande in Peru, but for his subsequent books including Touching The Void, Storms Of Silence and The Beckoning Silence, takes a journey to the Eiger to re-trace the steps of Bavarian mountaineer Toni Kurz who along with his three companions Andreas Hinterstoisser, Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer attempted a first ascent of the north face of the Eiger in 1936. Although it's not the tallest mountain in the world (4,107 m) or the most difficult the Eiger has a calling to all mountaineers that is hard to describe, but an obsession it can definitely become.
On the way up Hinterstoisser found the key to the mountain when he set across an 100' sheer black rock, allowing the rest of the team to climb safely across (later in memory of his brilliant climb it was called the 'Hinterstoisser Traverse'). Unbeknownst to them at the time though to get back across the traverse they should have left the rope in place. After Angerer was hit in the head during a rock/ice fall, they had to abandon the summit and help their injured friend down the face to the safety of the valley.
After Hinterstoisser was unable to get back across the traverse they had no choice but to abseil down. When an unexpected avalanche hits them 'like a tsunami' Hinterstossier falls 2000' to his death. Above him Kurz and Angerer also fall from the face but were stopped from falling all the way by the rope secured into the side of the mountain.
Angerer, the first of the remaining three to fall off the face, was strangled by his rope, Rainer's diaphragm was crushed by the weight of Kurz and Angerer's bodies and Kurz was left hanging mid-air unable to go up or down and at the mercy of the elements as he waited for rescue. A few hours later, in horrendous stormy conditions, rescuers arrived but they were unable to do anything at that time and told Kurz they would have to come back in the morning. He knew he was being abandoned and his heart breaking cries for them to stay would have lived with them for the rest of their lives. The next morning they came back and this is where the strength and human spirit is so evident in Kurz's determination to live.
This is a brilliantly told true story which has added impact due to the similar circumstances of Joe Simpson's near death in the Peruvian mountains where he believes that he 'should have died on a rope.' Superb photography by Jeremy Hewson and unbelievable performances by Roger Schali (Toni Kurz) Simon Anthamatten (Andreas Hinterstoisser) Dres Abegglen (Willy Angerer) and Cyrille Berthod (Edi Rainer) who re-enacted the climb and it's outcome. This is not to be missed and you don't have to be a mountaineer to appreciate the strength of the human spirit, the determination to overcome all odds that is so clearly on display here and the total sadness of the outcome.