Meru (2015)

I once dated a girl who was an avid climber. Trad, sport and bouldering. And as boys do, her interests (for a while) became my interests. Only my climbing was abhorrent. I mean this is someone who struggled to walk on the glass floor on the observation deck of the CN tower with any sense of conviction. (I mostly walked on the seams)

Notwithstanding my aversion to heights, I also may have some trust issues. ‘Belay on’ became psychological spillway for me. Plus my physique is all wrong and the hippie culture associated with climbing makes me want to cut myself….

In my defence. She was really pretty.

meru-poster.jpeg

Some Homo Sapiens are defective. The amygdala in their brain is small, shrivelled and clearly malfunctioning, ergo they have no fear. Enter Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk. Three Uber-Menschen as envisioned by Friedrich Nietzsche one hundred and thirty years prior.

Nietzsche had this theory called the Will to power that he believed was the main driving force in humans ie. achievement, ambition, and the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. (I don’t think he meant literally above-sea level, but who knows)

Meru is a documentary that followers these three climbers on their quest to be the first Menschen to ascend the Meru peak via the ‘Sharks fin’ in the Indian Himalayas. Basically 1.2km of sheer, vertical rock and ice. It makes climbing Everest look like a Sunday stroll pushing a perambulator along the Serpentine. (Jimmy Chin climbed Everest, and then skied down)

The movie is 87 minutes long. Forty sphincter-puckering minutes of that I was on the edge of my seat. The other forty seven minutes I was fidgeting nervously in anticipation.

This is a movie that proves what human beings are capable of when we put our minds to it. It’s not my place to question what motivates these guys do the dangerous things they do, or how they justify the risks they take when one misstep can leave their children without a father and their wives widowed. I do however appreciate the skills they’ve acquired and finesse with which they practice their chosen craft.

Try to balance risking too much and risking too little. Life is short and both are significant risks – Jimmy Chin, on twitter 

If these guys can action this level of achievement, what stopping me with my more mundane aspirations in life?

This film is beautifully shot and edited. Its immersive and interesting. And while it didn’t motivate me to try on some crampons, it may have enthused me to try and do a pullup.