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Three Flags Over Everest

1 rating: 5.0
A movie

The record breaking expedition of the 1990 Mt. Everest International Peace Climb. A team of climbers from China, the Soviet Union and the United States, led by Jim Whitaker, overcome treacherous ice and snow climbing conditions in hopes to make a step … see full wiki

Release Date: 1992
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Three Flags Over Everest

Three Flags Over Everest 1990 International Peace Climb

  • Mar 14, 2003
Pros: cinematography A+ beautiful

Cons: none

The Bottom Line: ......

This true documentary is narrated by Robert Redford and carries all live footage of the ascent of Mt. Everest by three teams; Soviet Union, China, and USA, that joined together in the name of peace for one eventful spring in 1990. In a group of this size and covering all the problems of climbing style and language barriers, there were no fatalities and over 20 summated in this attempt.

Peace Climb leader, Jim Whittaker, with his skill and abilities, pulled all three teams together to make this a successful and peaceful event. Whittaker was the first ever American to reach the summit of Everest, in 1963.

This climb was to culminate on Earth Day but as is typical with Everest, she doesn’t follow anyone’s wishes or any calendar. The goal of the group, other than a peace mission, was to begin the cleaning and clearing process of the years of debris left on the mountain by other climbers.

Even as exhausted as they were, they continued through with the ideal of making a better environment on Everest, hauling or burying mountains of trash throughout their mission.

Whittaker's idea was that two members of each country would summit together, all at one time, making a unified statement to the world. He was able to complete his goal as each group placed their flags – Three Flags – on the top of the world, joined hands and forgot their differences for a while.

All was not a bed of roses. Whittaker himself was injured almost immediately and taken back to Katmandu. The leadership role passed to his deputy leader, American Warren Thompson. They were unsure Whittaker would be able to rejoin the mission, but he did two weeks later. American climber, one of the three women, Laverne Woods, suffered from pulmonary edema and had to be removed from the mountain. One more day and there would have been a fatality on this climb.

There was a lot of distention between the Russians and the balance of the group. The Russians do not hold with the slow acclimation that Whittaker insisted on and often refused to help move equipment and supplies to higher camps, often refused to move to lower camps to sleep. As an act of goodwill though, they agreed to set up camp 7 entirely on their own because the balance of the climbers were so physically exhausted.

Another bone of contention was the use of oxygen. Whittaker insisted that the first summit be made with supplemental oxygen supplies. American climber Ed Viesturs was determined to summit without oxygen and passed on being on the first team to summit from America. The Russians, although they agreed to use the supply, proceeded to the top without oxygen, slowing down the balance of the team who had already summated and were forced to wait an extra 45 minutes for them. It was important for the mission that all three countries be represented at the same time on the top of the mountain.

Forty-five minutes may not seem like much but at winds buffeting 70+ mph, temperatures at -30 degrees, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, edema, and dehydration, your life becomes perilous. Every minute exposed above the 25,000 foot mark is life threatening.

This movie was released by Pal Productions, Inc., who is noted for adventure documentaries, commercials, corporate films and features. It was directed by Laszlo Pal and carries some really good film shots. There is even a shot with then President Bush talking from the White House to the climbers on Everest, offering his congratulations.

This is an outstanding piece and a courageous climb. Redford's narration is clear and concise and the filming is wonderful. The actual first summit was filmed by Russian Sergev Arsentjev, who added to his already full pack the camera equipment required for the shoot. Arsentjev later died on his descent from Everest 5/22/98.

Ekaterina Ivanova became the first Soviet woman to ever summit Everest and Tibetan female Master Sportsman Hu Song, 33, [name may be spelled incorrectly] completed her summit 17 years after her first attempt.

The movie received the Cine Golden Eagle, Teddy Award, and the Moscow Festival Special Award.

After an exhaustive attempt to locate information on the internet about this climb, including the participants, I finally contacted producer Laszlo Pal via email requesting this information. He so graciously answered with a list of the climbers:

AMERICAN TEAM Jim Whittaker-expedition leader; Warren Thompson-deputy leader; Steve Gall; Ed Viesturs; Laverne Woods SOVIET TEAM Vladimir Shatayev- Leader; Ervand Ilyinsky- deputy leader; Mistislav Gorbenko; Ekaterina Ivanova; Alexander Tokarev; Sergey Arsentjev; Anatoly Moshnikov; Grigory Lunjakov; Andrei Tselinschev; Victor Volodin; Dr. Edward Lipen CHINESE TEAM Losang Dawa- leader; Luo Ze- deputy leader; Gyal Bu; Da Qimi; Ren Na; Gui Sang; Luo Tse; Wang Chia; Da Qoing; Ying Dao Shui

The general cinematographer for the piece was Steve Marts, who did an outstanding job on this production.



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