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That work is done by Sherpa mountaineers, who, as Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom tells me, shoulder a ‘disproportionate risk’ in climbing.Peedom has a long-standing relationship with the Sherpa community, dating back to a story, ‘The Sherpa’s Burden’, which she filmed in 2004.When the avalanche happened most of the Western climbers were, Peedom says, ‘still asleep in their tents’.Phurba Tashi and his team, employed by New Zealand expedition leader Russell Brice, were unharmed.‘I’ve witnessed how things really work on Everest,’ Peedom tells me, ‘and then witnessed the resulting films, none of which really show that work, because it somehow lessens the hero narrative or the achievement.’ , by contrast, reconceptualises Everest: in Peedom’s film we see a mountain that is both workplace and sacred site, integral to both the economic livelihood and the religious beliefs of the surrounding Sherpa community.For the Sherpa, Everest is Chomolungma, the mother of the Earth, a living deity who must be respected.A climber wishing to summit Mount Everest must pass through a series of five ascending camps.Base Camp sits at an altitude of 5400m, and the mountain’s summit at 8850m.

And though the circumstances are highly emotional, Peedom and her crew film patiently, utilising everything from aerial helicopter shots to Go Pro footage in order to tell the story.The Sherpas’ ultimately successful call to cancel the 2014 climbing season was a form of labour dispute, one in which, says Peedom, they were asking for ‘better rights, better compensation, better insurance’.But it was also a demand for the recognition and respect of the community’s cultural and spiritual beliefs.It had always been her intention to document village life, but after the avalanche, she wondered if she and her crew had become ‘ambulance chasers’.Eventually, and with the agreement of the villagers, Peedom went ahead with these scenes, in order that the deceased Sherpas might be seen as more than ‘faceless statistics’.

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