This Documentary Shows That Glory Of Climbing The World's Second Highest Mountain Comes At A Price. 

Tripoto
Day 1

Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli, two Italian climbers, made the first ever ascent of K2 on July 31, 1954. Interestingly, it took a local team of climbers from Pakistan another 60 years to make their maiden ascent to K2.

Director Iara Lee's film K2 And The Invisible Footmen follows this Pakistani expedition in 2014 called 'K2 2014 Pakistan Expedition: Sixty Years Later'. The team of six climbers from Pakistan, who were former high-altitude porters, were assisted by two Italian mountaineers to summit the peak. Iara Lee's film unearths the story of these porters in the Karakoram Ranges who are the heroes easily forgotten behind years of successes of climbers on the second highest mountain in the world.

Photo of Mount K2 by Disha Kapkoti

Iara Lee's film quite literally traces the footsteps of these porters in Baltistan, who walk several miles each day carrying the luggage, food and equipments for climbers attempting to summit K2. With echoing Balti folk songs in this region of Northern Pakistan, every shot takes you closer to the reality of life in the region of Baltistan, home to the savage mountain called K2.

Photo of This Documentary Shows That Glory Of Climbing The World's Second Highest Mountain Comes At A Price. by Disha Kapkoti

Deprivation, illiteracy and remoteness of this region together culminate into inhabitable conditions for the local Balti tribe that has been surviving here for years.

The film takes you to the remote villages of Baltistan where porters and their families not only survive in the harsh climate but also struggle with unemployment when the climbing season is over. The film captures unfamiliar aspects in the life of these porters, whose illiteracy and poverty gives them only limited access to earning a living. Carrying heavy loads on their shoulders for climbers who reach here to summit K2 is the only source of income in the region. Porters who are paid to carry 25kg are often exploited and made to carry as much as 50 kg as they walk.

Photo of This Documentary Shows That Glory Of Climbing The World's Second Highest Mountain Comes At A Price. by Disha Kapkoti

The death toll is high for these Baltis who walk in high altitude regions without technical equipments or training.

The film also manages to draw parallels between the situation of the porters in Baltistan and the thriving adventure tourism industry in Nepal, where the local Sherpas have shared the benefits of the expeditions and created job opportunities for themselves as the industry grows stronger. The people of Baltistan on the other hand suffer due to the weak tourism industry in Pakistan owing to terrorism and remoteness of this region.

Photo of This Documentary Shows That Glory Of Climbing The World's Second Highest Mountain Comes At A Price. by Disha Kapkoti

The 2014 expedition of the Pakistani team on K2 documented in this movie is all the more special since the team comprises the high altitude porters who are defining the new-age transition to becoming professional climbers.

Photo of This Documentary Shows That Glory Of Climbing The World's Second Highest Mountain Comes At A Price. by Disha Kapkoti

K2 and The Invisible Footmen also thematically coincides with Jennifer Peedom's movie Sherpa which raises similar questions about the working conditions of Sherpas on Everest expeditions. Interestingly, both the movies were shot in two different climbing zones in the Himalayas during the 2014 climbing season.

Marking the beginning of a new age in the adventure tourism industry, these movies speak of inclusion of the locals and the idea of giving back to the communities who have remained invisible for all these years behind ambitious expeditions and flourishing adventure tourism industries.

Here's the trailer of K2 and The Invisible Footmen.

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