In 1923, a self-assured Englishman, George Mallory, arrived in New York seeking funds for a reckless expedition. "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?" a reporter asked. His famous answer: "Because it is there." In 1924, Mallory and a climbing partner, Sandy Irvine, disappeared just below Everest's 29,000-foot summit. The mystery remains. Long before Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, did they make it to the top before tumbling to their deaths?
This National Geographic documentary tries to determine whether such an ascent, on Everest's seemingly unconquerable northeast ridge, is possible, with two climbers, using period gear, following in the footsteps of Mallory and Irvine.
Anthony Geffen's film can be stiff, but eventually the excitement of being on Everest wins the day. Liam Neeson narrates; his wife, Natasha Richardson, several months before her skiing death, contributes the voice of Mallory's worried spouse.