First on Everest

(ORF Universum, 2010)

Awarded “Grand Prix” Bansko Mountain Filmfestival, 2011

Director: Gerald Salmina
Script: Jochen Hemmleb & Gerald Salmina
Producers: Nikolaus Wisiak (preTV) & Bernd Wilting (Taglicht Media)

Rome wasn’t built in a day… The original idea to this feature-length documentary was conceived bey German producer and director Christoph Weber (Taglicht Media, Cologne), who approached me c. 2004/2005 – a long time ago! For years he and the company’s CEO, Berd Wilting, tried to secure finances for the project. In 2007 they enabled me and Werner Vennwald, co-producer at the time, to undertake a memorable research trip to Beijing, during which we recorded unique interview material with Chinese climbing veterans from the 1960s and 1970s. Events surrounding the Beijing Olympics twice prevented an expedition before it could finally be mounted thanks to the contribution of Austrian production company, preTV (Graz/Vienna).

Although the search for Andrew Irvine and a solution to the mystery of Everest’s first ascent was unsuccessful, director Gerald Salmina, cameraman Günther Göberl and the climbing team helped creating a film that combined the forensic work on the “Mallory & Irvine case” with a portrait of the mountain that ranges from the dramatic first attempts to the current “circus” – all of this captured in breathtaking landscape and climbing footage. It was the film that I wanted to see ever since my participation in the Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition of 1999…


ARTE feature: