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A hard look at Everest’s Base Camp

Dianne Whelan’s 40 Days at Base Camp premiers in Whistler on Wednesday



Dianne Whelan discovered a corpse.

Climate change is causing the glacier on Mount Everest to recede, unearthing corpses left behind on the mountain from past expeditions. Whelan was filming what would become her feature documentary 40 Days at Base Camp when she found one that had literally come out of the ice.

"I was very tactful in terms of how I show it in the film," she says by phone while on vacation in Cannes, France. "It's extremely uncool to film a dead body there and the companies that are charging people all that money did not want me to film that."

More bodies were discovered during the time that she was filming. The adventure company guides on the mountain threatened her. So did the Sherpas. Even a Nepalese government official threatened her but eventually the guides and Sherpas removed the bodies, but not before virtually everyone at Base Camp had seen one.

Whelan had thought there would be a candle light vigil or some kind of memorial for the dead, but people merely stepped over the bodies, ignoring it to focus on the difficult climb to the summit that lay ahead.

"You can't really deal with it because to confront it in that place and at that time is to psych yourself out for what you're about to do," she says. "It's when you get home that the impact of that kind of hits you."

40 Days at Base Camp, showing for one night only on Wednesday at Village 8 Cinemas, documents her stay at the Base Camp of the world's most famous mountain.

For more on this story pick up Pique this week or read it online Thursday.

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