Many have heard the names Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the mountaineers from New Zealand and Nepal who in 1953 were the first men to summit Mt. Everest. Climbing enthusiasts will have heard about Japan’s Junko Tabei, who was the first woman to reach the highest point on Earth in 1975.
But less familiar is the remarkable story of trailblazer Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepalese woman to summit Everest. Her long journey to the mountaintop in 1993, which included protracted battles against gender discrimination, racism, and political opposition from within her own nation, is the subject of the new documentary “Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest.”
The film’s exclusive trailer can be watched above. Directed by first-time feature documentarian Nancy Svendsen (whose own brother-in-law is related to Pasang), the movie will make its world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on March 3.
“After my brother-in-law Dorjee told me Pasang’s story, I remember thinking how powerful one woman’s dream can be,” Svendsen told TheWrap. “I felt an immediate emotional connection to her, a calling to make her story more widely known. Pasang carried that dream to the slopes of Everest. Dorjee carried Pasang’s dream to me, and I am sharing that dream with many people through this film.”
Pasang’s courageous story is also a tragic one. During the same expedition in which she made history, she also sacrificed her life to the mountain. After her death at the age of 32, she was prestigiously honored by the King of Nepal, becoming the first woman awarded with the Order of the Star of Nepal.
The film precisely chronicles Pasang’s climb on Everest (she summited on her fourth career attempt) and utilizes video footage featuring Pasang from the 1990s, in addition to interviews with her mountaineering contemporaries, anthropologists, and members of Pasang’s family, including her children.
“It was incredibly moving to see Pasang alive in old videotapes,” said Svendsen, “and thrilling to realize they could be the basis for a film.”
Check out the full trailer for “Pasang: In the Shadow of Everest” above.