Segments in this Video

Extreme Sport (02:11)


Mountain climbing relies on physical strength. Climbers reflect on reaching the K2 summit. Porters carry 25 kg, risking dehydration and altitude sickness.

A Dangerous Job (03:24)

Poverty compels Pakistani men to work as porters for K2 climbers; their average lifespan is 40. They are paid to haul 25 kg but haul up to 40 kg, and charge $5-7 per trail stage.

A Dangerous Mountain (03:59)

K2 porters suffer altitude sickness; several have died on the trail. Climbers discuss the 25% death rate for summiting.

Family Life (04:00)

K2 porters eat breakfast before heading up the trail. They discuss marriage customs; one man can only afford to educate two of his eight children. His wife farms and he only works during the summer months.

Making Ends Meet (03:11)

K2 porters can't afford to build home amenities; many are illiterate. One man has ten children and refuses birth control, seeing conception as God's will. Some mullahs allow contraception.

Beasts of Burden (03:20)

A Pakistani man works as a K2 porter to support his parents and siblings. A young boy hopes to become an engineer or teacher. Porters feign illiteracy to avoid learning English and share their loads with mules.

Altitude Challenges (03:39)

K2 guides help a woman cross a crevasse. Climbers and porters discuss how pain is more intense in the mountains. Porters lack sufficient food and risk their lives.

Organizing Efforts (03:22)

K2 porters have been known to strike if treated unfairly. Climbers feel guilty but powerless about their difficult working conditions. Some porters leave trash on the mountain.

Foreign Competition (03:28)

Fearing competition from Nepalese Sherpas, who have more high altitude experience than Pakistani porters, and the Pakistani government barred them from K2. Now, sherpas must pay along with climbers to summit K2.

High Altitude Achievements (03:31)

Pakistani mountaineers fix ropes for climbing teams near the K2 summit. They discuss the risks of their job, including dying from a lack of oxygen.

Pakistani K2 Expedition (04:18)

Pakistani porters sing during a break. An Italian mountaineer trains Pakistani climbers in high altitude techniques—60 years after the first Italian-Pakistani team summited.

Opportunity for Growth (02:57)

Pakistani low porters became high altitude climbers, and are now accomplished mountaineers. The Pakistani K2 Expedition summits successfully.

Lack of Government Support (03:18)

A Pakistani mountaineer hasn't received recognition or compensation for summiting K2 and other peaks above 8,000 meters. He owns a mountain gear business but tourism has suffered from terrorist threats. Brazilian climbers dance with porters.

Overcoming Stereotypes (03:30)

Despite negative media reports, foreign K2 climbers appreciate Pakistani porters' strength, support, and friendliness. View cities and landmarks in Pakistan.

Savage Mountain (03:01)

View images of Pakistani porters trekking on K2. They acknowledge the risks of their livelihood. This film is dedicated to Amir Medhi, the high altitude porter who supported the 1954 summit.

Credits: K2 and the Invisible Footmen (01:38)

Credits: K2 and the Invisible Footmen

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K2 and the Invisible Footmen

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
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Located on the border between Pakistan and China, K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth. For many climbers, it is an even greater prize than Everest, with limited routes, a steeper ascent, and a harder push to its summit. In K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, filmmaker Iara Lee and team chronicle the lives of both Pakistani porters and Nepalese sherpas. The film also follows the first official all-Pakistani climbing team, made up of former porters, who successfully summited in 2014, in celebration of K2 60th anniversary. Amid breathtaking scenery, the film depicts the everyday sacrifices of porters and the courage of those indigenous climbers who choose to return to scale K2 in spite of past tragedies. In their striving to perfect their craft, these mountaineers provide a fresh look into the cultures and national traditions of Pakistan, a country typically portrayed in the foreign media as merely a land of conflict and sectarian strife.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL111601

ISBN: 978-1-68272-448-4

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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