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Meru 

Wednesday, Aug 19 2015
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To clear up any confusion: Maru is the adorable cat in Japan with a predilection for jumping through cardboard boxes, while Meru is the gnarliest mountain in the Himalayas. Meru's "Shark's Fin" peak has long been considered the hardest climb in the world, largely because nobody ever managed it — until Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk pulled it off in 2011. Chin's documentaryMeru, which he co-directed with his wife Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, covers their ascent. Armed with lightweight cameras, Chin, Anker, and Ozturk made an unsuccessful attempt in 2008, just a few months after the K2 ascent covered in Nick Ryan'sThe Summit, in which seven of the 18 climbers died. Chin and his associates' 2008 failure providesMeruwith a perfect three-act structure, while also allowing Chin to delve into the psychology of they would want to try again after barely surviving the first time. The photography is of course lovely (if you make an un-lovely documentary about climbing, you're doing it wrong), and unlikeThe Summit, there are no apparent re-creations beyond a few wide shots.Chin and Vasarhelyi'sMerunever answers the question of whether "because it's there" is a sufficient reason for wanting to climb a mountain. Instead, it suggests that the real question may be why they can't just notclimb lethal mountains.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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