Those who travel far, there must be stories

In 2019, a documentary film “Freehand Rock Climbing” was released in China. This film is about the process of rock climber Alex Honnold ascending the Emirates Rock in Yosemite National Park with his bare hands. He did not use auxiliary equipment, only relying on his hands and feet, relying on every muscle of his body, used 3 and a half hours to climb over 900 meters high Chief Rock. During the shooting, the photographer did not dare to look at Alex several times for fear that he would fall off. The scene of the movie is very tense. We saw a miracle of rock climbing, and we also saw a miracle of shooting. Because the photographer must also be a mountaineer to capture those close-up shots near Alex. The director of this film is called Jin Guowei, a master climber.

After watching “Freehand Rock Climbing”, I looked for another movie by Jin Guowei, “Climbing Meilu Peak”, which was also very exciting and had a richer plot. Mount Meru is in the Himalayas, with an altitude of only 6310 meters. However, in the eyes of professional mountaineers, the road to the famous shark fin covered with ice and snow is one of the most technically difficult climbing routes in the world One. The movie tells the story of three mountaineers who climbed Mount Meru twice before and after. Why is it so technically difficult to climb the 6,000-meter-high Mount Meru? There is an expert in the film who comes out to explain from time to time. This expert is called Jon Krakauer.

Movie “Climbing Mount Meru” poster

Krakauer is a writer. When he was just in his early 20s, mountaineering was the center of his life. He makes a living on an annual income of five or six thousand dollars. He went hiking when he was fine, but later he got older, got married, and lived a life of ordinary people. In March 1995, an editor of Outdoor magazine called him and asked him to write a manuscript about the Everest Commercial Mountaineering Team. The editor himself did not really want Krakauer to climb Mount Everest, but wanted him to go to the base camp for an interview, but this invitation inspired Krakauer’s long hidden desire-he did not want to stay at the Mount Everest base camp for two Month, but not trying to reach the top. By 1996, a New Zealand expedition company was willing to let Krakauer experience their services for free, and Krakauer was able to travel to Mount Everest. Unexpectedly, during the climbing season in May 1996, a major mountain disaster occurred on Mount Everest. Krakauer became the witness of the mountain disaster. Later, he wrote a book-“Into the Thin Air Zone”.

“Into the Thin Air Zone”

This is his famous work, which has occupied the first place on the New York Times bestseller list for a long time after publication, and finally won the Pulitzer Prize. Krakauer also wrote a book called “Survival in the Wilderness”, which was adapted into a movie. He is the most successful writer on outdoor topics, and he donates most of his manuscript fees to children’s educational institutions. After all, the protagonists narrated in “Into the Thin Air Zone” and “Survival in the Wild” all died in the wild. By telling the death of others to gain benefits, Krakauer feels guilty.

There is a proverb, “Those who travel far away must have stories.” It is said that people who are away from home and who have had adventures have stories to tell. In fact, when we read Krakauer’s books and watch Jin Guowei’s movies, we are all watching stories. Of course, the means of storytelling are changing. We watch the movies “Freehand Rock Climbing” and “Climbing Mount Meilu” and we will sigh, how did this come out? Most of the mountaineering images we have seen in the past are mostly vague. In recent years, film and television equipment has been greatly improved. Small machines can also shoot high-definition or 4K images, which can reach the level of film and television production. Jin Guowei’s team carries these small machines uphill and shoots during the climbing process. While marveling that the realm of professional climbers is completely different from the realm of our mortals, we can also intuitively feel that the people who shoot, these storytellers are themselves professionals. If Krakauer is not a mountaineering enthusiast, he will not be able to climb Mount Everest and tell the story of the mountain disaster. If Jin Guowei is not a mountaineer, he would not be able to shoot “Climbing Mount Meru.”

“Survival in the Wilderness”

If we broaden our horizons a bit, we can see the stories told by professionals in various fields. Take Dr. Artu Gwende, for example, who wrote “The Best Farewell” and several popular medical science books. Another example is Sherwin Nulan, who wrote “The Heirs of the Snake Rod”, telling the history of medicine, and also wrote “The Face of Life” and “The Face of Death.” There is also a doctor named Siddhartha Mukherjee, who wrote “The King of Diseases” and “Gene Biography”. We would like to thank these humanistic doctors for writing such excellent non-fiction works. If we read history books, we will find more works that are better than novels. “A person who travels far must have a story.” Whether the story is good or not depends on whether the person who travels is professional enough and has enough experience to tell.