Climbing a mountain is no easy feat. Anyone who has done it will tell you. If you want to try it, you might need some inspiration to motivate you. If you don’t have anyone to help you, here are the 18 best mountaineering movies for reference.
Yes, they might all share the same subject. However, the movies on the list all differ from each other. While some of the scenarios might never happen to you, it’s better to be prepared. It never hurts to be ready, especially when you’re on a different terrain!
1. Nanga Parbat (2010)
German 1h 44m IMDb
Stars: Florian Stetter, Andreas Tobias, Karl Markovics
One of the very first things you need to know about this movie is that it’s based on a true story. This is a story about two brothers, Reinhold and Gunther Messner, and their attempt to climb one of the highest mountains in the world.
You will see a glimpse of the majestic Nanga Parbat in the opening sequences of the movie. The mountain serves as the landscape of this rather tragic story and the film’s wonderful cinematography.
The movie encountered some controversies. Some expedition members claimed the movie was biased. If you’re curious, you can see for yourself.
2. Touching The Void (2003)
English 1h 46m IMDb
Stars: Simon Yates, Joe Simpson, Brendan Mackey
This is another film based on real people. In 1985, two climbers were on a mission to climb the West Face of the Siula Grande. While the climbers reached the summit successfully, their problem arose during their descent.
One of the most interesting parts of this movie is that the real climbers involved in the story make an apperance. While they are talking about their ordeal, there are reenactments from the actors. This type of filmmaking allows the viewers to get a feel of what really transpiried. It’s no surprise then that it won a BAFTA!
3. K2 (1991)
English 1h 51m IMDb
Stars: Michael Biehn, Matt Craven, Annie Grindlay
Brace yourself for what could possibly be one of the best mountaineering movies ever made. K2 is notorious for being a dangerous and deadly climb. And that’s very evident in the movie. There’s action, adventure, thriller, and everything in between.
This movie showcases the challenges of climbing and how people overcome them. Apart from the magnificent climbing background, the relationship and bond of the two main characters will captivate you.
K2 might feel a little dated and slow. But it’s a good watch andit will still keep you on the edge of your seat.
4. Everest (2015)
English, Russian 2h 1m IMDb
Stars: Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright
If you are an avid follower of mountain climbing, you might have heard of what happened on Mt. Everest in 1996. This movie is an astounding interpretation of what happened then. Yes, it was tragic but the story needs to be told.
There are accounts of this event by people who were there. And the makers of this movie seemed to hit the right spots. They really tried to make it as realistic as it can be.
Kudos should also be given to the cast. They really got into character and made you feel empathetic towards the tragedy they found themselves in.
5. The Summit (2012)
English, Italian 1h 35m IMDb
Stars: Christine Barnes, Hoselito Bite, Walter Bonatti
Anyone who attempts to climb K2 knows how vicious and deadly it is. And what happened on that fateful August day in 2008 proves that. Eleven people lost their lives.
In The Summit, the viewers are given the chance to understand what transpired that day on the mountain. Since it’s one of the most tragic mountaineering events in history, it only makes sense to dive deep into it.
You get to see a dramatization of the events as well as actual footage. Hearing about the events from various POVs will make you realize the lengths people will do for their passion for mountain climbing.
6. Scream Of Stone (1991)
English, Spanish 1h 45m IMDb
Stars: Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Stefan Glowacz, Mathilda May
Some people take betting quite seriously. Take the case of the main characters of this movie. In Scream of Stone, two people compete on who could climb the Argentinian mountain, Cerro Torre.
There were qualms with the acting of the actors in this Werner Herzog film. That seems fair, given the international casting. Don’t let this stop you from watching the film.
Try to pay attention to the mountain scenes and the elements surrounding them. They are shot beautifully on location. And it gives the viewers a chance to see what the mountain was like then.
7. Poorna (2017)
Hindi 1h 40m IMDb
Rahul Bose, Prashant Pandey
Stars: Aditi Inamdar, Rahul Bose, Heeba Shah
Did you know that the youngest person to climb Everest was just 13 years old? Learn about the remarkable journey and achievement of this girl through the movie, Poorna.
No matter how old you are, Poorna is a story that can inspire people of all ages. Despite being born in a poor family from a remote village, it did not stop Poorna from training and persevering to reach her goals.
Despite being on a tight budget, the film still managed to showcase the mountaineering parts of the film. It’s paramount, given the symbolism of the journey to reach the summit for Poorna.
8. The Mountain (1956)
English 1h 45m IMDb
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, Claire Trevor
If you are interested in movies about mountain climbing from a different era, then you should consider watching this one. When this movie came out in 1956, it did not do well. However, some people who grew up around this time can vouch for it.
In The Mountain, Robert Wagner plays someone who wishes to climb a mountain after hearing about a plane crash, while Spencer Tray plays his retired mountaineer turned shepherd brother. The filmmakers tried their hardest to bring the mountain to life by shooting near the French Alps and Mont Blanc.
9. A Lonely Place To Die (2011)
English, Serbian 1h 39m IMDb
Stars: Alec Newman, Ed Speleers, Melissa George
Imagine just casually climbing a mountain and then run into a kidnapped victim. Well, that’s what A Lonely Place To Die is about. And if you think it ends with the climbers helping someone out, then you are wrong.
This movie is a combination of mountain climbing, action, and thriller. The storyline of A Lonely Place To Die is intense. And it keeps the audience on its toes. For a film made with a small budget, it sure has a lot of punch. There are some violent scenes in the film, so if you are queasy, you have been warned.
10. The Alpinist (2021)
English 1h 32m IMDb
Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen
Stars: Marc-André Leclerc, Peter Mortimer, Alex Honnold
There’s no one more deserving of the title “The Alpinist” than Marc-André Leclerc. Yes, there might be other climbers who do, more or less, the same thing. But there’s just something about this Canadian solo climber.
In the movie, you get a glimpse of what kind of person Leclerc was. Climbing mountains by yourself is no joke. And he proved just how talented he truly was.
If you aren’t used to seeing some climb a mountain the way Leclerc does, prepare for nail-biting moments. It leaves you in awe of someone who had so much passion for the mountains.
11. Meru (2015)
English 1h 30m IMDb
Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Stars: Conrad Anker, Grace Chin, Jimmy Chin
It might be baffling to non-climbers why mountain climbers risk life and limb doing what they do. If you had the same doubts, watching Meru might help you understand why it ignites so much passion from people.
Meru goes beyond being a film about mountain climbing. In the adventure-filled world of high-altitude mountain climbing, climbers need drive, courage, and the right technical skills. And the three climbers involved in the film show just that. Given how challenging the climb to Meru is, the film still and its cinematography deliver awe-inspiring images.
12. The Summit Of The Gods (2021)
French 1h 35m IMDb
Stars: Lazare Herson-MacarelEric Herson-MacarelDamien Boisseau
It’s not everyday you get the chance to watch an animated movie about mountain climbing. It might be confusing for some people to hear Japanese characters speak French. Well, it’s because it’s a French animation.
The film revolves around Makoto Fukamachi, who encounters a missing climber. The latter might be holding on to something that could change mountaineering history. Together the two characters also embark on a mountain climbing expedition.
The beautiful story is given justice by the articulate and captivating animation. And while this is an animated film, it also has that realistic factor.
13. North Face (2008)
German, Swiss German, French, Italian 2h 6m IMDb
Stars: Benno Fürmann, Florian Lukas, Johanna Wokalek
North Face is a movie set in 1936 Switzerland. It’s based on a true story around the time when the Nazis were looking for people who will boost Hitler’s status.
Don’t let the political ploys of the movie take away the mountaineering essence of the film. Yes, the climb was driven by politics. But it’s important to learn the stories of the people who were propelled to climb Eiger.
In the movie, the characters and their story don’t feel rushed. This is one factor that makes this movie a good watch.
14. This Mountain Life (2018)
English 1h 16m IMDb
Stars: Simon Beck, Martina Halik, Tania Halik
This Mountain Life is a stunning film that will inspire people. If you want to go on a mountain adventure, you can do it too! The mother-daughter duo of Tania and Martina is proof that you can pursue your dream and passion at any age.
The mountains might be vast, and you never know what lies ahead. But once you meet different people with whom you share something in common, you realize just how mountains move people.
Apart from the marvelously shot scenes, the film will reaffirm the beauty of life, especially when you are on top of the world.
15. L’Ascension (2017)
French, English, German, Nepali 1h 43m IMDb
Stars: Ahmed Sylla, Alice Belaïdi, Kévin Razy
If you think you know how to impress someone you like, then the lead character in L’Ascension will give you a run for your money!
The movie is about a Senegalese-French guy who attempts to climb Mt. Everest to impress a woman! Some might find the premise of the film ridiculous, but this happened in real life!
You have to give props to Samy for doing something so bold. It’s such a sweet, comedy adventure film that everyone will love.
This is one of those films that really showcases the true and immaculate beauty of Nepal.
16. The Himalayas (2015)
Korean, English, Mandarin 2h 4m IMDb
If you are a fan of world cinema, you know South Korea has released a lot of interesting films. One of those films is The Himalayas.
This movie, released in 2015, is based on a true story. The film is divided into three acts, which makes it different from other mountaineering movies. Each of the acts focuses on a vital part of their alpine expedition.
The ensemble cast of the film were terrific. The movie is all about their goal of reaching the highest peaks in the Himalayas, but it’s also a story of camaraderie, trust, and survival.
17. Cliffhanger (1993)
English 1h 53m IMDb
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker
If you are looking for a mountaineering movie that also doubles as an action film, then your best bet is 1993’s Cliffhanger. It stars the legendary Sylvester Stallone. John Lithgow plays the bad guy in this film.
A mountain might not be your first choice for an action film location, but it works well.The scenic, snow covered mountain fits superbly with the suspense and action happening in the film! There’s a certain level of intensity and reality to the film as well. If you are in the mood for some mountain climbing and fighting bad guys, watch this now!
18. Edie (2017)
English 1h 42m IMDb
Stars: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan
Edie is a wonderful film about an octogenarian who finally has the freedom to live her life as she pleases. Going on a mountain adventure at this stage of life is not a walk in the park. This movie will inspire people, even those in the twilight years of their lives, to challenge themselves. It’s never too late, friends!
The Scottish Highlands play a pivotal role, serving as the quintessential backdrop. The stunning cinematography highlights its beauty even more, and the captivating performances of the actors enhance it too.
Scale-Up At The Movies ASAP
You don’t have to be a climbing enthusiast to appreciate the 18 best mountaineering movies. Sometimes you have to look into movies that can ignite your passion and excitement for life and its many adventures! Mountaineers are the perfect people to move you especially if you are dealing with the unknown!