Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Kilimanjaro - To the Roof of Africa |
Actors: Heidi Albertsen, Nicole Wineland-Thomson, Roger Bilham, Audrey Salkeld, Hansi Mmari
Director: David Breashears
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
Join a band of trekkers as they journey through rugged terrain and extreme conditions to look out from Africa's highest point in the latest mountain adventure film from David Breashers (Co-Director and expedition leader of... more »
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Needs some straight-talk on Western Breach
Archimedes Tritium | 10/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came across this DVD a couple months before leaving for Kilimanjaro and enjoyed it much. If you are going to climb the mountain via the Western Breach route, purchase is a no-brainer.
It, along with a Nova documentary that appeared about the same time, seems to have contributed to an explosion of thousands of Americans climbing Kilimanjaro in the last 3 years. Said one porter-aid worker I met in in Moshi, "Americans used to be rare in Tanzania, but in the last 2-3 years, they are suddenly common ...". Everyone I met seemed to have viewed or been prompted to go by these two videos.
The film is definately IMAX-ie; beautiful photography, nice swelling music, numerous scenes of herds of animals fleeing in terror along the plains of Africa as the camera swoops down from an airplane overhead. You get the idea.
The narrator (mountain guide Jacob Kyungai) intones that climbers of Kilimanjaro are "ordinary people people, mostly", then goes on to introduce a Gilligan's Island cast of climbers, picked to reflect (or engage) the folk who might go to the science museum IMAX theater on a Saturday afternoon -- as compared to those who actually climb Kili.
You have The Professor (Roger Bilham, an expert volcanologist), Ginger/Mary-Ann (Heidi Albertsen, identified on the DVD only as "Trekker: Denmark", but in reality a New York super-model you have probably seen more often on the cover of women's magazines at your grocery store check-out line), a couple of precocious 12-going-on-25 year old kids (self-possessed and well-behaved, every Yuppie parent's dream-child), a writer (Audrey Salkeld), and Rick Thomson, who barely made it out of the editing room, but is the father of the 12 year old girl (and was in a bad car accident shortly before the climb and had a pin in his hip, etc.)
Basically, the film shows a sort of idealized climb. This is not a movie about man against nature, or pushing the limits of human endurance. It's about a beautiful, diverse mountain and some "ordinary" (*cough*) people who went to the top.
Bottom line: if you are going to experience a Kilimanjaro climb, it's hard to beat tagging along with an expert volcanologist and a super-model.
The DVD contains a "Making of" feature that is of even more interest to prospective climbers than the main film. Behind-the-scenes shots of the logistics and events provides context to the apparent effortless serenity of the main feature.
The problem with the film is this: having climbed Kilimanjaro (via Lemosho - Shira -Western Breach route), the depiction of the Western Breach is disturbingly glossy. This problem is not unique to this film; it exists in the Nova documentary and virtually all text and sales-pitches advocating the Western Breach. Basically, the pitch is that the Western Breach route is "non-technical" and suitable for anyone in good physical condition who is capable of hiking for 6-8 hours a day.
The reality is there are at least 4 spots where you will find yourself clinging to an ice-covered rock, searching for slight finger & toe-hold indentations as you skitter 20-30 feet sideways. Miss a finger or toe, have a balance problem, or slip more than one hold, and you will fall 1000 feet to the rocks below. And aside from those 4 sections, a misstep or slip on any of the rest of the breach also means falling hundreds of feet. And keep in mind you are likely wearing a 20+ pound pack with several pounds of water. Basically, anything is "non-technical" if you don't use safety equipment.
The Western Breach is precarious and dangerous. In the film, they show the cast clambering over refrigerator-sized, step-like blocks of stone. This amounts to at most 15% of the climb. The rest is not really shown, probably because it is too precarious to get footage of. A parent allowing a 13-year old on this route is inconceivable to me, unless ropes and support equipment were used to assist.
While clinging to ice-covered rocks and seeing nothing but air beneath my feet, my initial reaction was anger at the public-relations puff-job in this movie and other sources. This was quickly subsumed by the desire to simply stay alive, repeated a couple dozen times that day.
While this movie might lead people in good shape, used to jogging around the park or hiking the local hills, into thinking it's no big deal to climb Kilimanjaro via WB ("hey, a couple 13 year olds did it"), the reality is inexplicably different than the PR. You have been warned.
By the way, if you read the companion book to this film, there is a note at the end that mentions that a few months after filming, the cast and crew was reassembled and climbed Kilimanjaro AGAIN (a 2nd time) to obtain more shots."
Great for planning or remembering
Archimedes Tritium | 06/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen this film after climbing Kili I found it brought back great memories and I would recommend it for those having climbed and planning to climb. Potential climbers should not expect trekking tips but will get a sense of the mountain. I think that the more critical reviews of this film are unfair. The implication that anyone could summit given 6 weeks and a staff of 150 is true, but planned properly most normal people can as well. It should also be noted that film maker -David Breashears- has reached the summit of Everest at least 4 times so how 'clean' the climbers look needs to be kept in context. Kili is not a technical climb, in fact it's a relatively simple hike, whose challenge stems from each individuals reaction to the altitude. That accessibility makes Kili everyman's mountain. From age 12 to 72, if you have the bug to summit and impressive peak, are reasonably fit, and brave enough travel to the other side of the world, then Kili is the perfect adventure for you and this film should only serve to whet your appetite."
Worth buying if you are going to climb Kilimanjaro
Eric R. Hale | Naperville, IL USA | 06/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I climbed Kilimanjaro in November 2002 via the Machame route, which this film depicts. (One of the other reviewers referes to the Machame route as the "Coca-Cola" route, that is the Marangu route. I think it was an oversight.)
I found the film to bring back a lot of memories and did a good job of capturing the sights of the mountain. If you are climbing Kilimanjaro, it's a no-brainer. Buy this movie.
The movie does not do a good job at showing the difficulty of the climb. But, that's not why you should be buying this movie. If my memory serves me, it was filmed over 6 weeks and with a support crew of 150 people. My 82 year old grandmother could climb Kilimanjaro at that pace.
The reason to watch this movie is to learn about the mountain and so see some of the stunning sights. Breashears does and excellent job capturing the mountain's beauty."
NICE IMAGES, NOT TOO EXCITING
Denis Benchimol Minev | Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil | 08/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very nice video in which you get the see all the amazing sites of Kilimanjaro. After having climbed, I can say that it is as nice as it seems in this video.
The only problem with the video is that there is not too much excitement upon achieving each of the stages. Reaching the summit is very anti-climatic, as they simply walk onto it. Perhaps it would be impossible to express the true excitement and beauty of the summit, but I do believe they could have tried harder.
If you are planning a trip to Kilimanjaro, it is a nice video to see what you are going to face. But don't rely on it to predict the difficulties, I think it is a bit more difficult and a bit more exciting than they make it out to be."