Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours
Having done my fair share of hiking in the Colorado mountains, I know how deadly these rocky monuments can be. Meru (2015) highlights this in spades as it documents the conquering of one of the last untouched routes in professional mountain climbing. It’s no wonder such a daunting spire of rock remained un-summited from this approach, and this film highlights all the challenges that combine to make Meru as difficult as it is. Of course, because it’s a mountain climbing documentary, it follows most of the tropes and cliches common in the genre.
One of my biggest qualms with the mountain climbing genre of documentaries is how they all tend to be about the same progression of events. There’s always some storm that prevents the team from summiting. Somebody always gets injured. Success is always just out of reach. It also doesn’t help that there’s no way for the uneducated viewer to tell this slab of rock and ice apart from any other footage of rock and ice. Meru does manage to have a few moments to show the context of the climbers’ progress, even if they are few and far between.
I will admit that the achievement of these climbers is quite commendable. The task of ascending Meru’s “Shark Fin” seems like a fool’s errand, considering there must have to be easier routes to the top. The fact that this peak has been summited probably less than a dozen times since it was first climbed in 2001 does make this film that much more impressive. Not only did these guys climb the Shark Fin in less-than-ideal conditions, but they did so while also filming the incredible untouched beauty of the mountain.
A standard mountain climbing documentary about an insanely difficult route, I give Meru 3.5 stars out of 5.