Monday, 18 January 2010

Peter Boardman expedition to Afghanistan

Adam Curtis, a documentary maker, is researching the history of the west's relationship to Afghanistan over the past 200 years. His notes and observations can be seen on the Adam Curtis blog and it makes for fascinating reading and viewing.

In Part One - 1971, he describes how, in that year, the BBC sent a film crew to Kabul to recreate the first great military disaster of the British Empire - the retreat from the city in 1841. As an aside, Curtis mentions that:

"As the BBC were filming a group of students from Nottingham University drove past. They were a group of mountaineers who were on their way to their first expedition outside Europe. They were going to climb a peak in the Hindu Kush called Koh-i-Khaaik. Their leader was called Peter Boardman. He would become one of the world's most famous climbers, but this particular trip was going to go terribly wrong. In 1977 Boardman recorded a description to camera of what happened both literally, and inside his own mind during his terrifying ordeal."

The film can be found at the bottom of Part one. It may only last 13 minutes but Boardman's story of the expedition is a powerful bit of television. He vividly describes just what it is like to be stuck on a high-altitude climb and realising that you're at the point of no return - reversing is out of the question so the only hope of getting off the mountain alive is to carry on climbing to the top.

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