Vertical Limit 2000

The Hollywood-vs-K2 blockbuster ‘Vertical Limit’ will teach you many things you never knew about mountaineering. For example, when climbing roped-up, if your survival is threatened, you should always keep a knife handy to cut your partner loose.

Vertical Limit

True, he or she will then plummet to their death, but you'll be upholding the climber's "Code," which is apparently a long-standing mountaineering tradition when it comes to saving your own skin.

Another useful tidbit: don't forget to pack your nitro glycerine. Yes, nitro glycerine, the exceedingly volatile liquid explosive, which the filmmakers claim is useful to rescue people buried by avalanches. At 24,000 feet. In the Karakoram.

Yes, ‘Vertical Limit’ has much to teach us about mountaineering—in the Bizzaro Universe. Here in the normal world, you may find the film useful in an opposite sort of way. That is, if you do the exact opposite of whatever you see in this film, you'll probably be doing things right.

Given the budget and talent involved in this project, it's a shame so little actually came of it. Even the locations are largely faked. If you're hoping to see cutting-edge photography on the sheer faces of K2, the world's second highest mountain, you'll only be happy if you do a lot of squinting, or have a special fondness for cardboard.

‘Vertical Limit’ is best thought of as a mountaineer's comedy. The film is truly shameless when it comes to eschewing reality...which I think gives it a certain sort of charm. If unintentional humor isn't enough for you, there's a cameo from super-climber Ed Viesturs.

We can only hope he's still being teased for it.

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