Monday, December 16, 2013

Filming the Impossible, by Leo Dickinson

Leo Dickinson, who along with Eric Jones filmed Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler's first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen, writes of a life of filming the world's great adventures. Beyond Everest, Dickinson films and participates in such projects as the first filmed climb of the North Face of the Eiger, exploration in Patagonia, the first descent by kayak of the Dudh Kosi (including the highest ever canoe launch at Everest Base Camp), ballooning over the Sahara, attempts at ballooning around the world, and skydiving from both planes and balloons. His writing is as dynamic as his films, with the unaffected perspective of someone who uncovers something new and interesting even in well-trodden paths. He pushes the limits of filming, with cameras mounted on kayaks, lightweight cameras with batteries wired from within a climber's down suit, helmet cams for skydiving (not so standard in the 1970s!), and filming ballooning from a rope ladder attached far away from the basket. Throughout the book are high-quality photographs from each of his adventures.

He meets Reinhold and Ushi Messner at a mountain film festival, and Reinhold first invites him to Dhaulagiri, and then to Everest. Dickinson has some troubles with the altitude, but Eric Jones eventually makes it as far as the South Col of Everest. I did not realize until reading this book, that Messner's filming during his summit climb (which would later cause him snow blindness) was actually for Dickinson's movie. Dickinson provides an outsider's perspective to Messner and Habeler's climb, though with few surprises. He credits their reaching the summit mainly on Messner's determination and belief in himself, pointing out that Habeler waffled quite a bit on oxygen and wished to go down during their summit climb in marginal weather. Dickinson's subsequent film, Everest Unmasked, would later win awards at the Telluride, Trento, and Banff mountain film festivals.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the excellent blog. Wish I would've stumbled across it earlier. Would like your permission to quote you on an ebook I'm writing on my Everest Base Camp trek completed in the fall of 2012. The quote would be the number of books on Everest and, perhaps, anything else you'd like to say about trekking to EBC. I saw 400 in your HW Tilman book review dated 2011. Certainly that number has increased. Thanks, randy oahesailor at gmail dot com.