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Topline Magazine | January 23, 2018

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MERU: Adventure Climbing Film Premieres August 14th

Charles Watkins

When it comes to high-stakes alpine mountain climbing…

the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru may be the ultimate prize. Sitting 21,000 feet above the sacred Ganges River in Northern India, the mountain’s perversely stacked obstacles make it both a nightmare and an irresistible calling for some of the world’s toughest climbers. In October 2008, 3 of the world’s most renowned alpinists: Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk arrived in India to climb Meru over the course of the next seven days. But the “seven-day trip with the equivalent amount of food became a 20-day odyssey in sub-zero temperatures, thanks to the setback of a massive storm that showered the mountain with at least 10 feet of snow.”  Within 100 heartbreaking meters of the elusive summit, their journey – like all other previous attempts – had to be abandoned.

The trio would each return to their everyday lives, but the siren song of Meru continued to beckon them. By September 2011, Anker could hold off no more and convinced his team to reunite and undertake the Shark’s Fin once more, under even more extraordinary circumstances.

“This is the anti-Everest,” says Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer in the film’s trailer, “It’s the test of the master-climber.” “The reason Meru is different is that on Everest you can climb it with a lot of support. You have Sherpa support,” says Vasarhelyi, in remarks to Park City Television. While on Meru, “it was just the three guys on the mountain.”

To succeed on Meru, “You can’t just be a good ice climber. You can’t just be good at altitude. You can’t just be a good rock climber,” says Krakauer. “It’s defeated so many good climbers and maybe will defeat everybody for all time.”

MERU is the story of that journey, an expedition through nature’s harshest elements and one’s complicated inner demons, and ultimately on to impossible new heights.

The appeal of climbing documentaries are typically reserved for the climbing community – garnering praise and enthusiasm from fellow mountaineers.  MERU, however, is different – this time appealing to a much wider audience and winning awards from some unusual places.  The film won the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival for U.S. Documentaries – which could be a harbinger of even more acclaim to come – as other recipients of this honor have later received Academy Award nominations.

“Harrowing and ultimately moving! One of the best sports documentaries of its type in recent years.…a nail-biter.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“High-tech, high-octane, high-fiving…a winning combination of the gruelingly practical and the luminously cosmic. Transport[s] viewers to the roof of the world.” – Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

So what makes MERU different?  Well a couple of things:

First – as you’d expect from a modern documentary, MERU is incredibly visually compelling; the cinematography is both harrowing and stunning and keeps you swept up in its beauty throughout.  Second – despite the truly “rarefied air” of a climbing movie, MERU is more than just about mountain climbing.  It’s ultimately a human story of personal challenge, the struggle of handling difficulties and the long road to relief and reconciliation.

“As someone who isn’t particularly comfortable with heights, it was important for me that MERU be more than just about mountain climbing. It’s a truly personal story, one about pursuing one’s passions, though in this case those passions are unusually extreme” Chai Vasarhelyi

“In making Meru, our hope was not just to give people a visceral experience of modern, cutting edge ‘mountain climbing,’ but more importantly, an honest look at the life, the loss, the elation and ultimately, the intractable decisions faced by people who’ve made a life of climbing high altitude alpine peaks…The process may have only deepened my ambivalence. Love or hate? Freedom or incarceration? I don’t have the answer but I am proud and grateful to share a film…that will hopefully open your eyes to another world and let you decide for yourself which side of the ridge to stand on.”  Jimmy Chin

For further information and showtimes see below, or visit


Theaters and Showtimes

City | Opening Date Theater


  • WINNER – Sundance Film Festival, Documentary Audience Award
  • Official Selection – San Francisco Int’l Film Festival
  • Official Selection – True/False Film Festival
  • Opening Night Selection – Full Frame Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Nashville Film Festival

90 min | USA | 2015 | Rated R
Official Site: