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2000 Assignments

K2Q'oyllur Rit’i festivalMatterhorn

Summer 2000 saw assignments with BBC Documentaries for BBC2 and Pilot Productions.

Mountain Men K2 awarded a 'Special Jury Prize' at Banff Film Festival and 'Best Mountaineering film' at the Trento Film Festival.

Peruvian familyFor 'Treks In a Wild World' our first stop was the rarely visited, by westerners that is, Q'oyllur Rit’i festival where the ancient beliefs of 26,000 Quechuan pilgrims have blended with Christianity.  The three days of cacophonous music and dance culminated in the ascent of a glacier in the pre-dawn by village representatives dressed as bears or llamas.  These Ukukas cut huge blocks of ice which were then carried, wrapped in cloth, back to villages all over S. America.  The melt-water was poured over fields as a blessing for a good harvest.

From Q'oyllru iti we travelled to Ollantaytambo to explore Inca history and sample the local maize beer that looked more like a frothy version of that pink penicillin medicine.  Apparently it tasted fine.  Our last stop was the remote community of Mauqau where subsistence farming was very much the way of life and guinea-pigs formed a major source of protein.  There were so many in the village houses it was hard not to stand on them.  The crowd-pulling Saturday morning football match proved as much an exhausting proposition as llama herding at 4000m.

The Peru shoot was undertaken with DVCAM equipment using a DSR500 up to the festival site which was supplemented by a PD100 for shooting high on the glacier.

Gasherbrum 4Filming on the BaltoroFrom Peru to Pakistan and a trek up the Baltoro glacier to K2 for the BBC2 series 'Mountain Men'.  No-one had seen the 2nd highest mountain in the world for two weeks.  But producer Mick Conefrey obviously had excellent connections.  K2, the Gasherbrums, Trango and the rest of the Karakorum giants showed themselves.  Take a look through the gallery pages for more pictures.  Now with pakistani-diet-induced additional holes in our belts the return journey saw us crossing swollen rivers and mudslides, dealing with road wash-outs, knackered jeep clutches and engine fires.

Along the Baltoro and beyond K2 Basecamp to shoot what must be one of the most spectacular mountain landscapes in the world.  The Digibeta kit provided stunning image quality.

Travelling light Continuing work on the 'Treks In A Wild World' series our 'Via Ferrata' in the Italian Dolomites was supposed to serve as a warm-up for our climb of the Matterhorn but nothing could quite prepare us for the 4.30am race into the blackness to start the Hornli Ridge.  We reached the knife-edge summit of the Matterhorn in 5 hours but of course the day wasn't over.  We still had to find our way down.

A couple of days later we were back at the hut, poised for the next go at the Hornli and a look at Whymper's first ascent for the BBC's 'Mountain Men'.  This time Stephen Venables and Dave Cuthbertson climbed in contrasting period and modern garb.  Stiff winds on the summit froze our water and tested tweed to the limits.  The chopper crew shooting the aerials did their last pass.  We'd been on the top for almost two hours.

The following day we went a third of the way back up to shoot another climbing sequence.  The weather had deteriorated.  Stephen's Whymper hat drifted over as snow squalled around us.  A German guide almost fell off with shock, "Mein Gott !  Eetz the ghost of Vimper !".

The Hornli Ridge is the arete on the right in this aspect of the MatterhornStephen Venables on the Matterhorn's summit ridge.