A Mother and Son Died Mountain Climbing. 25 years apart.

UNaturally, I love the release of my films — enjoying the reviews if they’re good and wincing if they’re not. Either way, I appreciate and appreciate it if people talk about my work, whether it’s praise or criticism. The Last Mountain is completely different. No matter what the critics say, and no matter how well received by the public, I will always be heartbroken when I watch it. In fact, since finishing the movie, I’ve never replayed it in its entirety – and probably never will again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so proud of The Last Mountain, a film that took me over 25 years to complete. But that’s not the story I want to tell and it’s not the story I want to tell either. Sadly, that’s the story I have to tell.

The film focuses on the death of 30-year-old British mountaineering genius Tom Ballard, a close friend I had known throughout his youth. That’s why I had to fortify my instincts as a filmmaker — not only with my own personal sadness over his loss but also with my deep concern. dedicated to Tom’s beloved sister, Kate, and devoted father Jim, who are also close friends.

It was 1995 when I first met the extraordinary Ballard family. Tom is six years old and Kate is only four years old. Jim was leading an expedition to take them to K2 in Pakistan, the second highest mountain in the world, and I filmed it for the BBC. It was not a climbing expedition but a pilgrimage for the children to say their final goodbyes to their mother, Alison Hargreaves, Britain’s greatest female mountaineer. A month after climbing Everest, the first woman to climb Everest alone and without supplemental oxygen, she reached K2, an unprecedented feat in a single season. But across her lineage, she was lost in a violent storm and her body was never found, so there couldn’t be a regular funeral to help the family mend.

Aided by 80 porters, one of whom carried Kate on his wide back, we hiked through some of the most rugged yet majestic terrain on earth. Crossing ferocious glaciers and rivers, we reach the base camp, where Tom and Kate have built stone towers in memory of their mother. It’s been an epic journey for two young children but if they achieve something on some level, a deep source of energy and passion is awakened within them too.

After making a movie called Alison’s Last Mountain, I stayed close to my family and watched (and continued to film) as Kate developed her own love affair with the mountains as well as incredible skiing and snowboarding skills. Tom grew up to be a strong, cute young man with a natural talent for climbing. It’s in his DNA. That is his super power. As a flesh-and-blood Spider-Man, Tom never wavered in his desire to scale anything in front of him: giant granite boulders, beautiful stone faces, walls of ice horns. towering and towering mountain peaks. By his mid-twenties, Tom was already one of the world’s best shooters, but he had never strayed from his mother’s rock climbing ethos — a set of unwavering beliefs that define relationships. her connection to the mountains. Respecting their strength, she never viewed them as innate malice or as an enemy to be attacked or conquered. And the same goes for Tom. He emphasized: “You must be like mountains and mountains. “When I climb, I’m like a rock or an iceberg in motion, and if the mountain tells me it doesn’t want to climb anymore, I’ll walk away and come back another day.”

Tom knows the risk. He knew that danger and danger lurked for him in the mountains. But for him, fear is a strength. He develops a spiritual appreciation for danger, and this determines his relationship to the heights he has striven to reach. At 16, I remember him telling me he had a “call” to climb. I pushed him about this. “So when you’re climbing, do you feel in touch with something deeper inside of you?”

“A lot,” he replied. “But you don’t know what it is – it just feels right.”

Over the years, I accumulated more and more footage of Tom and Kate and planned to make another movie about them, which I intend to call Children of the Mountains. It’s a pure work of love, and I can picture a fairy-tale ending: Ever since he was a kid, Tom’s dream was to climb K2 on his own, and Kate always said she would come along. brother to support him. The triumphant return to the mountain that cradled their mother will be the crowning glory of our film, the heroic god of a well told story. There is a redeeming poem for this vision — a purifying catalyst. I can see it very clearly in the eyes of my mind.

But at the end of February 2019, this trust was shattered. Tom went missing on Nanga Parbat, a giant Himalayan peak just 100 miles from K2. This is not in my imaginary scenario. Within a week, the bodies of Tom and fellow climber Daniele Nardi were discovered on an inaccessible rock high above the mountain.

Widely regarded as the best climbers of their generation, Tom and Alison died at almost the same age, in the same mountain range and under similar circumstances. Neither of their bodies was found, so both lay in the ice forever – each had a Himalayan mountain as their godstone.

Suddenly, our future film takes a tragic twist: The son has died just like his mother, and there’s a complete symmetry to the tragedies even though they’re 25 years apart. Widely regarded as the best climbers of their generation, Tom and Alison died at almost the same age, in the same mountain range and under similar circumstances. Neither of their bodies was found, so both lay in the ice forever – each had a Himalayan mountain as their godstone.

When Tom is confirmed dead, Kate is still alive. She tries to understand the double tragedy of her young life; to justify the risks of mother and brother. A part of her needs to honor their sacrifice, their courage, and their glorious achievements. But part of her wanted to blame them too – blame them for condemning her to a life of suffering and suffering. How could she pull herself out of the terrible feeling of despair that was engulfing her?

Wanting to be close to Tom, she decides to travel to Nanga Parbat – his last mountain. Once again, I went with her as I had done 25 years earlier on her trip to K2, her mother’s last mountain.

The journey, physically and psychologically demanding, was exhilarating for Kate and filming it also helped focus her emotions, but I should never underestimate the emotional impact it has on her. with her and I try not to be too intrusive. That helped me film and record myself so she was never surrounded by the crew.

Peak Kleines Schreckhorn, a mountain in the Bernese Alps


Children of the Mountains, the film I started filming 25 years ago as a labor love affair, has been overcome by events. Its successor, The Last Mountain, still a labor of love but in a very different way. By exploring Tom’s hopes and dreams and probing the curious circumstances of his death, it raises the epochal question: What drives people to climb mountains? What motivated them to train their skills and strength against the invincibility of nature and the force of gravity? Climbers are confusing creatures, driven by commands most of us can’t even begin to comprehend. Tom is such a creature – complex, determined and introspective, but always courageously trying to push the boundaries of human endurance.

He was made of the right things. He was created from his mother. But that doesn’t make him invulnerable. Maybe for Tom, the allure of the mountains was simply too strong to resist. Perhaps it wasn’t so much an appeal as a need to feed an addiction or even to play a fate beyond his control. Is there simply no escape from the elemental’s desire to combine with rock, ice, and snow? For him, it was a life sentence willing to serve but ultimately a death sentence.

Though as his father’s Jim remarked, “Tom is a mountain warrior who died doing what he loved to do and who will be 30 years old – forever.”

The last mountain, a movie that I can no longer watch, may be a source of insecurity, inner turmoil and regret for me but, despite its inherent tragedy, the film is uplifting and inspiring. inspired by remarkable people like Ballards. I had to simply accept that real life doesn’t follow a fancy path or follow a set script. Truth is often more nuanced than fiction, dramatic rather than fictional, and the ending of a fairy tale takes many guises.

The Last Mountain is available to watch on major streaming services worldwide.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-mother-and-son-died-mountain-climbing-25-years-apart?source=articles&via=rss A Mother and Son Died Mountain Climbing. 25 years apart.


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: hung@interreviewed.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button