The Summit: A Chronicle Of Stones to Serenity (2009) is a beautiful film. It is a movie that showcases why adventures go beyond the possible and make the improbable a reality.
The panoramic images of snow clad mountains surrounded by a sea of clouds painted in sunsets is what many outdoor enthusiasts yearn to see; the movie is more than the contrast of the beauty and danger of mountaineering. It is about the whys of several men during the Meiji era go to Mount Tsurugidake, an unexplored peak in the Hida Mountains, located in the eastern area of Toyama Prefecture, Japan in 1907 . The story is based on the novel by Jiro Nitta.
On the surface it is a story of explorers risking their lives in an endeavor to survey an area that was never explored and chart the region for national security purposes; moreover, there is a second reason the government needs this undocumented location mapped. It is to save the government’s honor in preventing a group of civilian armatures in climbing a mountain that the Army has failed in the past to climb. But like clouds covering mountains, there are other hidden reasons to why the men of the Japanese Army Survey unit go exploring. Furthermore, their reasons are in humbling to why the local guide goes, and the purpose of the Japanese Alpine Club.
Beyond the imagery and dialog I’m captivated by the gear used in 1907. The heavy supplies, and the physically demanding costs, and the contrast of traditional and modern gear. The local guide and survey unit gear choices are primitive compared to the modern gear the Alpine team uses.
During the first exchange between the two teams a 1955 Swedish-made Svea 123 makes an appearance when Yoshitaro Shibasaki of the Japanese Army Survey unit speaks with Usui Kojima of the Japanese Alpine Club team; the appearance of the stove is interesting because the movie is based in 1907. Regardless of the gear time line mix up (and it is possible I am wrong in identifying the stove used), we see how extravagant gear can be and traditional supplies can be looked down upon. Even today some of us have fallen into the trap of envying someone who has new gear or chuckled at a person’s old, heavy, and tattered gear.
After seeing this movie you will be hard pressed not to want to discover someplace new. And to borrow a quote from the film “nature is eternal but life is fleeting”. There is no time like the present to start your adventure.