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Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
American Documentary Film Festival
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Climber, Film Subject
Angnima was the leader and founding member of the "Icefall Doctors," a group of high-altitude workers who maintain the line of fixed ropes and ladders through the Khumbu Icefall to Camp II. The passage accesses the normal routes up Everest (8848m), Nuptse (7864m) and Lhotse (8516m) and is used by hundreds of climbers each year.
Angnima first went to Everest in 1975 with Chris Bonington's expedition, which ended in the first ascent of the Southwest Ridge by Doug Scott and Dougal Haston, and the death of Mick Burke. In the following 37 years, Angnima worked on several of the mountain's major routes, including the West Ridge, Southwest Face and South Pillar. Angnima had been to Everest over forty times.
Angnima was named the "Icefall Doctor" by mountaineer guide Rob Hall, who Angnima worked with for many years in Everest. Rob died tragically in a mountaineering disaster that occurred in 1996, made famous in the book, "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer, and for which the "Everest" movie in 2015 was based on.
A husband and father of five, Angnima died in 2013 at the age of fifty-nine.
Samdo is a mother and wife of Angnima who has lived most of her life in Dingboche, Nepal. While married, Samdo spent her days raising her children and working in the fields by her home. She bore five children (3 boys and two girls).
She went to Everest to visit her husband on many occasions within the timeframe of the 1970s up until his death in 2013. "Every time he left for Everest and I said goodbye, I knew he may not return. I spent every day praying for him to be safe," she said.
After the death of her husband in 2013, Samdo made a dramatic turn in her life and... you'll have to watch the documentary to find out what it was.
About the Film
Angnima Sherpa, the original "Icefall Doctor", held the most dangerous job on earth on the slopes of Mt. Everest for 30+ years. A kaleidoscopic and meditative view on his last season as leader of the Icefall Doctors before his death.
The Sherpas, an ethnic group in Nepal, are renowned for their climbing skills, superior strength and endurance at high altitudes on Mt. Everest.
Some of Everest's bravest Sherpas are "Icefall Doctors", whose job is to build and maintain the route through the most treacherous and deadliest part of the mountain, the Khumbu Icefall. If not for their work, none of the guided mountaineers would summit Everest from the Nepal side.
For over 10 years we were granted unprecedented access by the government of Nepal to film the Icefall Doctors - a job that is statistically the most dangerous on earth.
The first in our trilogy exploring the Icefall Doctors, their families, and the Khumbu region of Nepal.
Financial return from the film will go toward rebuilding Angnima and Samdo's home, which is currently occupied by their youngest son, Tshiring Dorjee Sherpa.
Meet the Filmmaker
Director, Producer, Cinematographer
Sean Burch is a professional filmmaker, explorer and conservationist holding 8 world records spanning 6 countries and 5 continents, winner of National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Survival Alaska TV show, 1st Virginian to summit Mt. Everest, and author of the acclaimed self-help book and program Hyperfitness®: 12 Weeks to Conquering Your Inner Everest (Penguin Random House). He has over 130 first ascents of previously unclimbed mountain peaks, of which 117 were accomplished solo.
He has spent over 20 years as a filmmaker, filming his own expeditions and befriending locals within the regions he's traveled throughout the years, such as the Icefall Doctors on Mt. Everest and in China where he lived for over a year.
He was named Goodwill Ambassador to Nepal by their country's government for his humanitarian work for their country.
Sean’s documentarian and photography work has appeared in cable and media organizations, some of which include: BBC, AP, National Geographic, Reuters, CNN, CNNi, USA Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX world news outlets, Outside, Versus.
The Icefall Doctor is the first film in a 3-part documentary series on the
Khumbu Icefall and the Icefall Doctors of Mt. Everest, Nepal.
I first met Angnima and the Icefall Doctors in 2003 when I was climbing Everest alone. Every day they went into the Khumbu Icefall, by far the most dangerous area of the entire climbing route, saving climbers and securing routes so Western climbers could reach the summit of a mountain. Their courage, strength at altitude, and overall amicable attitude fascinated me, and made me want to find out more.
The importance of this film for Everest history and it's global community is something I'm most proud of. For over 10 years we received unprecedented access by the government of Nepal never before given to a production crew to film the Icefall Doctors; as well as support from the Embassy and Ambassador of Nepal.
Angnima always had a smile on his face and was very sensitive about topics and people close to his heart. One minute he'd be laughing, and the next he'd be pontificating on the meaning of life and mountaineers, whom widely known throughout the world, could not have achieved Everest's summit without Angnima and other Sherpa's assistance. The Sherpas generosity, humanity, and overall attitude are unparalleled.
I hope you enjoy seeing the love and positive energy Angnima sent out to the world, all while holding down the most dangerous job on earth for over 30 years.