An intimate and light hearted portrait of a world class mountaineer. Big on mountain scenery, and big on inspiration.

Eleven years ago I went to an Alan Hinkes lecture in Exeter. Alan had not long climbed Kangchenjunga, making him the first and only Brit to climb all of the fourteen 8000 m peaks – the world’s highest mountains. I wanted to know what it was like up there, and how did he do it? Since childhood I’ve been fascinated by human performance in the extremis, and why some excel, and other’s don’t. So I was excited to get stuck into Terry Abraham’s much anticipated biopic.


Alan Hinkes Kanchenjunga-summit
Alan Hinkes on the summit of Kangchenjunga in 2005 (Copyright Alan Hinkes)


We kick off with the first half focusing on Alan’s early life, his family, and his favourite haunt’s around Britain – all of which are showcased with amusing anecdotes and stunning mountain scenery. There’s a heavy sprinkling of outdoor royalty thrown in with   Paul Ross, Joss Naylor and Rehan Siddiqui featuring. You also get to see some of the lesser known work Alan does with local and national charities, particularly regarding promotion of the outdoor’s and working with young people.


AlanHinkes Yorkshire Malham & Goredale & Black Sail YHA
Locations which feature in the first half of the film, including Malham Cove and Goredale Scar (Copyright Alan Hinkes)


Leaving Britain for the Himalaya around the hour mark, the film progresses into covering Alan’s climb’s and this is where the jesting is left behind a little. The lingering shot’s of the Himalaya are superb, and it’s hard to get your head around the fact that this is essentially a one man band on a limited budget – well done that man Terry Abraham!


Alan Hinkes Everest-summit
Alan Hinkes on the summit of Mount Everest in 1996 (Copyright Alan Hinkes)


It’s within this section that my favourite part of the film features, the Kangchenjunga summit footage – late in the day and approaching nightfall Alan calmly exclaims that he may not make it down alive from the summit. That short moving scene is a perfect microcosm of the mindset needed to complete the 8000’ers and come away intact.


Pasang’s [Gelu] below. God know’s what time it is, it must be seven at night. This is really serious. Could die on the descent, [chuckling nervously] and I’m not joking…Yeehee Kangchenjunga!


Filmed, directed and produced by Terry Abraham (Copyright Phil Rigby)


Humble, humorous and overflowing with energy, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by Alan’s personality, and the magic of Terry’s mountain imagery. If I were to be picky I would say it was a little slow to make it to the real meat of the film (Alan’s exploits in the mountains) and perhaps a wee bit heavy on the supporting cast (ala Colonel Trautman in Rambo However overall this is a heartfelt, evocative, intimate and light hearted portrait of a world class mountaineer. It’s big on mountain scenery, and big on inspiration. I’ll be watching it again sometime soon…

You can buy the film for £14.99 on DVD here, or stream/download it here (£12.99 in SD and £14.99 for HD). The film is sponsored by Fjallraven and presented in association with Jagged Globe, the BMC, and Leeds Beckett University Carnegie Great Outdoors.






About the Author Ash Routen

I’m a postdoctoral exercise scientist by day, and cold expedition adventurer (for want of a better term) and outdoors and health writer by night. I’m based in Leicester in the UK, but I also spend considerable time in Cambridge where my partner lives. To find out more about me, visit my about page or take a look at my published writing.

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