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Tell Us Your Favorite Family Films
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Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, his Nepalese sherpa, were the first to summit Mount Everest in 1953. Hillary's recent death, at the exalted age of 88, reminded us that although climbing equipment has advanced with technology, the whims of nature and human error mean that summiting is as perilous as ever. As adults, we love Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, a popular book that chronicled how eight climbers lost their lives on Everest in 1996. Kids will love to screen Everest: Special Edition, a documentary by filmmaker and climber David Breashears, that follows celebrated climber Ed Viesturs and Tenzing Norgay's son up Everest in 1996. The short film offers a kid-friendly introduction to the Buddhist traditions of the area, the scientific goals of this particular mission (they left GPS tracking devices at the top for earthquake research) and then detours tragically because, coincidentally, the IMAX team was on the mountain when 8 climbers lost their lives in a freak storm. Through the gorgeous large format photography, the kids learned of the rigors of acclimatization -- it takes nine months for the climbers' bodies to adjust to the thin air -- and got an intimate portrait of the sheer determination necessary to drive oneself to the top of the world.
While the climbing quests of Hillary were heroic, your kids will grant you hero status for taking them to scramble up an indoor rock wall for a few hours. A warning, however, is in order -- kids are natural climbers and you should be prepared to be shown up by the littlest of them (but don't let that stop you from joining in the fun!). Our kids love to strap into a harness, begin their nimble ascent and look down upon us grown-ups with glee once they conquer a two-story wall. What goes up, must come down and it's nerve-wracking to see your kids whiz by, even though they're safely belayed by a trainer. We have climbed the walls with our kids at our local climbing gym -- during scheduled kids' hours, in a private family session, and at day camps -- and each experience has given us a small glimpse into the challenge that drives climbers up the really big walls of the world. While just doing the math on the Everest altitude makes us giddy (multiply by 29,023 feet), it also gives us a new appreciation for why Sir Edmond Hillary's historic climb was such a stupendous accomplishment.
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Scale the Walls at an Indoor Climbing Gym
Age Recommendation: Over 7
Time Allotment: Two hours
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this adventure: