The 7 Best Mountaineering Films Currently Streaming on Netflix

©istockphoto/Georgijevic

While Net­flix has become well known for its expan­sive library filled with plen­ty of old tele­vi­sion shows, clas­sic movies, and amaz­ing orig­i­nal con­tent, the stream­ing ser­vice has recent­ly become quite an out­let for out­door adven­ture films as well. One look at my per­son­al queue will show that it is packed with all kinds of adren­a­line induc­ing moun­tain bike and ski movies, fas­ci­nat­ing trav­el doc­u­men­taries, and films about explor­ers jour­ney­ing to the remote cor­ners of the plan­et to fill in the blank spots on the map. My queue also hap­pens to have more than its fair share of moun­taineer­ing films as well, includ­ing some of the best movies that this niche genre has to offer. Here are sev­en of my favorites that can be streamed on Net­flix right now.


void2

Touch­ing the Void
One of the great­est moun­taineer­ing films all time, Touch­ing the Void tells the true sto­ry of Joe Simp­son, a climber who – along with his part­ner Simon Yates – was attempt­ing to climb the 6344-meter (20,813 ft) Siu­la Grande in the Peru­vian Andes back in 1985. After a suc­cess­ful sum­mit, the duo was mak­ing their descent when Simp­son suf­fered a hor­rif­ic fall, break­ing his leg in the process. What fol­lows is a har­row­ing tale of sur­vival and courage in the moun­tains, where one man refus­es to give up no mat­ter what seem­ing­ly insur­mount­able obsta­cles are placed in his way. This is a film that every­one should see, whether you’re a moun­taineer­ing buff or not.


summit

The Sum­mit
In 2008, sev­er­al teams of climbers were attempt­ing to reach the top of K2, a moun­tain that is wide­ly con­sid­ered to be the most dan­ger­ous and dif­fi­cult in the entire world. Dur­ing their sum­mit push, a series of unfor­tu­nate events – includ­ing an untime­ly avalanche – led to the death of 11 climbers, in what at that time was the sin­gle most dead­ly day in mod­ern moun­taineer­ing his­to­ry. The Sum­mit takes a look at the events that led up to that dis­as­ter and intro­duces view­ers to the prin­ci­ple char­ac­ters who were on the moun­tain that day. Some of their hero­ic acts helped keep the tragedy from becom­ing an even big­ger one, although some­times at great cost to them­selves.


elias

Mount St. Elias
This film fol­lows a trio of out­stand­ing ski moun­taineers as they trav­el to Alas­ka to attempt the longest ski descent in the world, an 18,000-foot (5486 meter) drop off the beau­ti­ful and ter­ri­fy­ing moun­tain from which the film derives its name. Mount St. Elias takes us along on that expe­di­tion, which push­es these three very tal­ent­ed climbers and skiers to the very edge of their phys­i­cal abil­i­ties, as they take on the biggest chal­lenge of their lives. The beau­ti­ful and com­pelling cin­e­matog­ra­phy will leave you hold­ing your breath as they push towards the sum­mit, and then begin the long ski descent back down the moun­tain. In terms of extreme ski­ing, it sim­ply doesn’t get much more dan­ger­ous than this.


everest

Ever­est: IMAX
When the trag­ic events chron­i­cled in Jon Krakauer’s clas­sic book Into Thin Air took place on Ever­est back in 1996, a doc­u­men­tary film crew led by leg­endary direc­tor David Breas­hears was there. That crew found itself in the mid­dle of an unfold­ing tragedy, while they strug­gled to accom­plish the goals they had set out for them­selves, most name­ly lug­ging a 40-pound (18 kilo­gram) cam­era to the sum­mit to cap­ture a 360º view of the Himalaya. This beau­ti­ful film not only man­aged to cap­ture the grandeur of the moun­tain, but the sense­less tragedy that played on its slopes. It went on to become one of the most suc­cess­ful IMAX movies of all time, and is con­sid­ered a tremen­dous feat of film­mak­ing. It los­es some of its appeal in the trans­la­tion to the small screen, but it remains a fan­tas­tic piece of work filled with high dra­ma and plen­ty of amaz­ing images.


edge

Beyond The Edge
In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay became the first men to sum­mit Mt. Ever­est. Their suc­cess made head­lines across the plan­et, mak­ing them instant cel­e­brates, and inspir­ing a gen­er­a­tion of moun­taineers that fol­lowed. This film tells that sto­ry through the use of archival footage, won­der­ful pho­tographs, and well-staged reen­act­ments. Beyond The Edge takes us back to an era when moun­taineer­ing was still a grand adven­ture into the unknown, and explor­ers were cel­e­brat­ed for their amaz­ing accom­plish­ments. Shot on loca­tion in both New Zealand (Hillary’s home coun­try) and Nepal, the film fea­tures amaz­ing moun­tain land­scapes and a com­pelling tale of the first ascent of the world’s tallest moun­tain.


mind

Into The Mind
Anoth­er ski moun­taineer­ing film, Into The Mind takes us on a quest to ski the ulti­mate moun­tain, where ever it may be found. The film fea­tures footage from Alas­ka, Bolivia, the Himalaya, and oth­er far-flung locals, as well as well-known ski and snow­board moun­taineers such as J.P. Auclair, Xavier de le Rue, and Ben­ji Far­row who are search­ing for the most wild, remote, and crazy des­ti­na­tions to glide down. The glitzy approach to sto­ry telling is bal­anced out with fan­tas­tic footage of beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tions, and some of the best ski­ing and snow­board­ing you’ll find any­where.


k2

K2: The Ulti­mate High
Put this one in the “so bad, it’s good” cat­e­go­ry. K2: The Ulti­mate High is a fic­tion­al account of a true-life expe­di­tion to the sec­ond tallest moun­tain on the plan­et . Based on a play of the same name, the sto­ry fol­lows two friends (played by Michael Biehn and Matt Craven), who join a team of climbers head­ing to the Karako­ram to take on what is per­haps the tough­est moun­tain in the world. As you can imag­ine, the climb does not go as planned, and dis­as­ter ensues along the way. The 1991 the­atri­cal film does include some great scenery, and rea­son­ably sol­id moun­taineer­ing action, although the campy dia­log and gen­er­al­ly sub­par act­ing can be tough to watch at times. The out­dat­ed gear and equip­ment is worth a chuck­le though, as this film stands as a reminder of just how far we’ve come over the past cou­ple of decades.